StandUp for Kids – Orange County
Heaven is one of our current youths here at StandUp for Kids. We recently had the pleasure of hearing from her at our Gala. She was able to share her story and how she had been impacted specifically by her mentor, Leslie, who she has been working with for the past two years. Heaven’s story is extremely important to our organization and her story shows how valuable StandUp for Kids in its entirety is for youth all across the nation; especially in Orange County.
What brought Heaven to StandUp for Kids was her situation: she was experiencing homelessness and needed help. Unfortunately, her parents were unable to help her, as they were going through their own hardships. Thankfully, Heaven took matters into her own hands and began researching where she could get help. Her homelessness took place during the start of Covid, which made it challenging for her to find somewhere to live and to find a job to support herself. Realizing she could not do it on her own, she reached out to StandUp for Kids.
Heaven was first put in contact with Denise Zermano, our director of housing and mentoring programs. Following contact with Denise, she was then connected to Leslie Stern, her soon to be mentor who would help her directly. At first, Heaven was a little skeptical about bringing a mentor into her life, but as she grew alongside her mentor over the years, she has come to appreciate the presence, advice, and guidance Leslie has brought to her life.
Heaven recalled: “I first talked to Denise, and she told me what the programs at StandUp for Kids were about. Then she told me I would have a mentor. . . what does that even mean?! But Leslie truly is amazing, and she definitely has been someone that has really been here for me. [Leslie’s] helped me get my driver’s license, even after five [attempts]… and she is so much more than a mentor. She is a friend and maternal figure. She’s very supportive and with anything I tell her. She gives me very good direct advice and listens to [what I have to say]. I genuinely think she wants better for me and wants me to succeed at anything I want to do.”
Heaven’s story and time here at StandUp for Kids – Orange County is one that we look back on with joy. The impact that Leslie has had on her life has helped Heaven overcome from her previous life challenges, especially when she was experiencing homelessness. One of her final updates, was that she has just recently signed an apartment lease FOR A WHOLE YEAR!! We are so proud of Heaven, and everything she has accomplished in the past couple of years.
Many youths like Heaven have relied on StandUp for Kids as a safe haven during their time experiencing homelessness. Heaven is one of these many success stories. In order to keep serving the youth of Orange County, we need your support. Whether that is through donations or volunteering, anything helps to support our youth. You can visit our StandUp for Kids – Orange County page to learn more information on how you can actively volunteer, set-up monthly giving, and give back to our next generation that is in need!