StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley
Over the past 6 years, StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley has faced many challenges in order to support local homeless youth such as: being evicted right after Thanksgiving in 2019, finding a new location for the Outreach Center, The Village in San Jose, recruiting new volunteers, and constantly raising funds as a nonprofit organization to pay for rent and the services we provide.
But never was there a year like 2020, a truly historic year in so many different ways. With more vaccine doses on the way and 2020 behind us, we want to review the importance, successes, growth, and challenges StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley faced last year.
First of all, we are proud that even in the era of the pandemic The Village was still open to those in need and most vulnerable in our society: Homeless youth, who are living on the street, left with no adult supervision or support. This population is already an under-resourced group, but with COVID -19, their ability to build a pathway to a better future is even more limited. Basic needs and resources like housing, food, employment, healthcare or even computer access has become even more burdensome. To make matters worse, isolation and fear of contracting COVID-19 is also severely impacting the mental health of homeless youth. Unfortunately, this group already shows an even higher risk of mental health issues like trauma, anxiety, depression and suicide simply just of being homeless and due to exposure to violence in their past.
In 2020 StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley was able to provide access to resources as well as welcoming everyone into a safe and warm place off the streets. We carried on and kept the doors open as an essential business, offering a healthy meal, hot shower, clean clothes and essentials like masks, hand sanitizer, toiletries. Our engagement with the kids looked different in the past year: NO hugging or close interactions, and limited numbers of people in our Outreach Center. Nevertheless, at the end we are grateful to our kind volunteers who constantly adapted, developed, and have grown to make it happen. Kinds were housed, rents were paid, and employment was found.
2020, in numbers:
- Served over 1000 kids (over 3000 in 2019)
- 32 new kids (88 in 2019)
- Over 4200 volunteer hours (over 5500 in 2019)
Even though our volunteers weren’t able to do Street Outreach ( a fundamental pillar) throughout the year we posted fliers, reached out to many community partners (from schools to non-profits) letting them know we are here and are excited to now have made connections with Juvenile Hall and Santa Clara County probation.
Due to the pandemic, fundraising was more challenging last year. But the desire and passion to help those in need led to many opportunities: long term supporters like SV Pride, 3 Helping Hands, corporations and several schools from Elementary to High School level made it possible. This includes extra precautions and safety measures- to donate many gift cards, goodies and car loads of much needed snacks. Our chapter also participated very successfully in the first annual National event: StandUp and Move, a virtual 5K, to help end the cycle of youth homelessness, raising over $15k.
We volunteers are especially proud of our very own and outstanding Executive Director Michele Huntzinger for her tireless commitment and endless hours to guide our chapter. In fact, she was awarded the Global Intel Involved Hero Award (grant of 10k)and the Jr. League of San Jose Crystal Bowl winner (grant of $1500) . Congratulations Michele, well deserved!
As we are now facing March of 2021, still in a pandemic, we will constantly adapt to our environment and the circumstances, to support homeless youth. We will keep the doors open and welcome all homeless youth in our Outreach Center The Village, ensuring an inclusive safe place for all.