StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley
Dr. King once stated, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” This question is what drives StandUp for Kids – Silicon Valley’s volunteer, Jeannette Weederman, to give back every day.
Growing up in East Germany, before the wall came down, Jeannette learned the importance of community and helping others from a young age. She began working with underprivileged kids while still in Germany and continued her work when she moved to the United States by volunteering at schools. About 5 years ago Jeannette was looking to do more and she came across StandUp for Kids, “it was a perfect fit!”
For Jeannette, volunteering “gives a sense of pride and identity,” and even though there can be challenging days, “[this] is our community and it is not [their] fault that they are on the street.” “Every kid has their own story, and if you listen to them, it is not their fault. When we can get them to open up it is amazing how many want to make a better life. All they need is support.” One of the amazing ways Jeannette builds trust and gets our kids to open up is through hugs. She is a HUGE hugger, “because hugs are so important, powerful and healing. Our kids are struggling with loneliness.” Unfortunately, there have been no hugs since COVID, but we are all hoping that her free hugs will come back soon!
From free hugs, to teaching the kids yoga, “because they sleep on the streets and walk around all day…,” to speaking at schools to raise awareness about StandUp for Kids, Jeannette’s passion for our youth is palpable and infectious. So infectious that after speaking at a local elementary school, she inspired the 5th graders to make stuffed animals that they sold to their friends, and at the end of the day they gave her the $9 they raised. Proving Jeannette’s philosophy that, “everybody, even the kids, especially the kids, can be a part of the community.”
Although there is so much more we could say about Jeannette, we will leave you with these wise words from her, “they [the kids] have feelings and want to be seen. Money is nice of course, but talking to them is the best. And if you don’t feel comfortable, even a smile can make a difference. They just want to be seen.”