StandUp for Kids – Orange County
The past year has been a difficult time filled with its fair share of uncertainties and unease. It is especially the case for much homeless youth, who face additional challenges. While the pandemic had put a pause on many things, life went on for homeless teens and young adults who had to press on, unsure of what their next meal would be and where they would sleep for the night. The stories of many youths are not very different from Chief.
Homelessness has always been a big part of Chief’s life, even spanning as far back as his childhood. For some time, while Chief was going to school, he was homeless along with his family. It was an overwhelming time between managing school life, living with a single parent, and dealing with bouts of homelessness. Chief found it difficult to socialize with anybody outside of his immediate family. Things wouldn’t get easier for Chief. Coping with a tumultuous home life made even worse when the parent he was living with was arrested for attempting to steal clothes for him and his brother. At just 15-years-old, he had to live with his father whom he hadn’t had much of a relationship. For the next few years, Chief would remain with his father until an incident stemming from drug and alcohol use would lead to him getting kicked out. With limited options available, Chief decided to stay with a group of friends that he had made in Huntington Beach. This became a period of heavy drug use that caused Chief to bounce around from house to house until he once more ended up on the streets. Chief would hit rock bottom when he was arrested, living on the streets, under the influence of severe drug use, and desperate for a roof over his head. With his prospects of escaping homelessness becoming increasingly dimmer due to his record and living situation, feelings of hopelessness began to take hold of Chief. Things didn’t look good for Chief, and there was little to suggest that a turnaround was likely.
However, Chief’s fortunes would drastically change when he was introduced to StandUp for Kids by Orangewood Foundation, an organization that he had turned to for help. Over a series of Zoom meetings and with the help of other organizations, Chief was able to get back on his feet by finding a place of living. Along with providing several resources, StandUp for Kids Orange County supported Chief by helping pay for his rent and relieve him of some of his financial burdens. This help couldn’t have come at a better time for Chief. Feelings of hopelessness became optimism and a sense of hope. “It gave me hope again,” said Chief. This newfound hope and access to further resources have allowed Chief to find the stability he had long sought out.
No longer having to worry about finding a place to live, Chief has been able to focus on saving up money and working the part-time job he could find. StandUp for Kids – Orange County continues to support Chief on his journey towards a better future with guidance and mentorship. When he isn’t at work, Chief attends mentoring sessions and group meetings held by StandUp for Kids to learn life skills and support. Chief is grateful for everything that StandUp for Kids has done for him and acknowledges the impact that it has had on him. “I feel more positive and I just feel better. I’m super thankful and happy to be in this program.” Chief recognizes that his story is just beginning. He knows that there’s still a lot of work to be done and progress made. However, he plans to never return to living on the streets again. He is determined to forge a brighter future for himself. This determination is reflective of his current outlook, which past events and experiences have shaped. It’s a belief in hope even amidst the direst circumstances. “Never give up. Just keep on trying to thrive. No matter what, you’ll eventually get there.” StandUp for Kids is proud of Chief’s progress, and the many youths working through our program have made. If this story inspires you to help support youth like Chief, please consider volunteering. You can learn more about current opportunities here.