StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley
Our volunteers are a life support for our kids. We cannot do what we do without them. We want you to meet Caroline who offers a caring hand to each and every kid that walks through our doors or who she meets when out on street outreach.
Dedicated and Determined!
Hi! I’m Caroline and I was born and raised in San Jose. I started volunteering with StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley in April 2019, almost a year after I moved home from college. My experiences volunteering with homeless communities throughout high school and college allowed me to recognize the myriad of ways these populations are marginalized, stigmatized, and discriminated against. I also recognized how social, mental, and physical circumstances that homeless individuals face can detriment their well-being, and how, without immediate attention, these factors can compound over time. After graduating from UCSB, I knew that this was a group I wanted to continue working alongside and fighting for. However, up until that point, I had only ever worked with adult populations. It was not until I heard about StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley that I grasped the reality of an entire community of homeless youth existing. This struck me.
Youth have the potential to make a powerful and lasting impact on the world, but this can be hard to do when they are limited by their circumstances. I do not believe that youth should have to be limited in achieving their potential. StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley strives to not only serve the immediate needs of homeless youth, such as by providing hot meals, fresh clothes, and laundry facilities, but also to combat the secondary and tertiary consequences of homelessness, such as lack of solid support systems and difficulty navigating health and education systems.
As a survivor of a childhood sexual assault, I understand the feelings of abandonment, vulnerability, and shame that follow traumatic experiences. I also understand how vital the accessibility of trusting resources, such as thorough medical and mental health care, effective sexual health education, and victim advocate services, can be to the trajectory of our lives. And while my story is different, my experiences have afforded me the ability to empathize with the youth at StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley and directly impact their lives. On one particular shift, for example, a youth revealed to me that they were struggling with anxiety stemming from the criminal justice system. Dealing with an ongoing criminal case myself, I wanted to let them know that they were not alone, and began sharing how I learned to transform my own feelings of invalidity into feelings of empowerment. When the youth lit up, I knew that they recognized a similarity in our experiences. Even more powerful, though, was the feeling of hope that followed. In advocating for each other during our conversation, we recognized our individual abilities to advocate for ourselves.
Time and time again, StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley has proven itself to be a safe space for vulnerable youth to hold honest conversations, seek judgement-free support, and work towards building stable futures for themselves. It is inspiring to be part of a community of youth and volunteers alike that is so fierce in supporting one another, and an absolute privilege to call this group my family. I cannot thank this organization enough for allowing me to pursue something near and dear to me – ensuring that the youth in our communities feel safe and have every shot at becoming their best selves.