Meg’s Volunteering Story

Apr 24, 2024

StandUp for Kids – Chicago

Volunteering at StandUp for Kids has been impactful both ways: the young adults get a place to
relax and have some fun and I get to learn about their lives and what they do day to day. I
remember the first day I came and ended up talking to a gang member about how he was
initiated. It shocked me but he also had a softer side in the way he cared for and joked with his
girlfriend. Later, I taught him how to sew his pants after they had been worn through.

I have many stories from the drop-in center, lots that make me laugh, lots that have a sadder
undertone, but all the people have had an impact on the way I view and interact with the world.
Something that took me by surprise was how close I got with a lot of people, them asking me
how my studies were going and giving me hugs before they left for the night. I got very attached
to a small child named “Jessie” born to a teen mom. Jessie would run around the place and roll
on the floors with her mom trailing close behind and would play little games with me. I don’t like
kids very much, but she was so adorable I couldn’t resist giving her little high fives and fist

Other times, I found myself calming people down when they were crying or getting in between
fights between couples. Listening to their stories always made my day better and I always felt
happy leaving, even if I didn’t do too much to help besides serving the kids meals and cracking
jokes. I developed close relationships with the other volunteers as we did puzzles to pass the
time on slower nights and learned more about their background having aged out of the system.
Our talks on STDs and substance abuse opened my eyes to the lack of knowledge people have
on their dangers and misinformation the public still harbors. It can be frustrating to think about,
but it demonstrates a need where education can make a difference.

The universe definitely had a plan letting me volunteer at StandUp for Kids. I’m so grateful for
the time spent with these young adults and to Fred for being a great mentor and leader.
Hopefully we can continue making a difference on the streets of Chicago.

– Meg