StandUp for Kids – Orange County
Not all heroes wear capes. A phrase that we have all heard before, but it rings true especially for Valerie. There are many people in the world struggling with drug abuse, homelessness, addiction, and family problems. Organizations such as StandUp for Kids have been created to provide help and support for these people, and have made a huge impact. These organizations are able to be impactful because of the people that support and volunteer every week. Volunteers serve as the backbone that holds up the organizations. Every person plays a vital role in making a change, and one prime example is Valerie, our September Supporter of the Month.
Valerie has always had a passion for teaching leadership to youth, and has always loved volunteering, believing that people should take care of one another. She has been dedicated to serving others throughout her life, from handing out socks and food with college students, to shoveling mud to clean an elderly person’s home, and even helping out people that have lost their homes to a terrible apartment fire. But in addition to the tangible ways she has helped others, Valerie spends just as much time listening to people talk about their stories and their obstacles in life. She understands that being there for someone, and connecting with them emotionally can have as much impact as going out there and volunteering. “Many of these people do not have anyone to talk to, or anyone to express their feelings to. That is why we have to look out for each other, and try to put ourselves in their perspective, so that we can connect with them on a deeper level, not as a volunteer, but as a friend.”
Throughout the years, Valerie has had her fair share of challenges. Growing up, her family struggled with financial instability. She had a dysfunctional life growing up. She struggled with the relationship with her mother, who was mentally ill. By the age of 18 she was pregnant and graduating from high school, leading to criticism and judgment from the people around her. During her time in junior high, she questioned what her purpose was, and what she should do. She did not know whether all of her struggles were worth it, and if she should just end it all. However, after thinking it through and finding a source of comfort in God, she concluded that she was her for a greater purpose. Years later, Valerie is now a volunteer at StandUp For Kids, and she has been helping us make a difference for kids since May.
Valerie found the opportunity at StandUp through Volunteer Network OC. She has been helping out with the We Deliver program by packing food, and organizing groceries for the drivers to deliver food to the homeless. Knowing how important it is to provide food for the homeless, she is humbled by the experience – every week she packs food with care, as if packing food for her own children. Knowing that as places begin to reopen, volunteers start to leave and get back to work, she tries to volunteer as much as she can to keep supporting the homeless during this pandemic. She expressed how important it is to volunteer, and how everyone can make a difference: “I want you to be a volunteer, no matter what job you do; small or large, you make an impact. If you are just picking up a piece of trash on the beach, you have made an impact, you have made a difference… When we all take a bit to help someone else, to do something that might not be in our comfort zone, we have made a difference”. Valerie has shown us that it is okay to struggle, and that anyone can make a difference; but we have a responsibility to care for one another. “That is life: we will all have struggles and challenges, but do we let them defeat us? We sometimes defeat our own selves, so we have to find what we can do to twist that around and give back, move forward, and make a difference.”