Youth Spotlight: Chris’s Story

Nov 17, 2023

At the tender age of 20, Chris found himself caught in the tumultuous whirlwind of life, juggling the pursuit of education at Santa Ana College with the relentless battle for stable housing. With his younger brother by his side, they faced the daunting task of navigating the world without a safety net. Threatened by eviction, their nomadic existence shifted from one friend’s apartment to the next, painting a picture of instability that seemed insurmountable.

In the midst of this chaos, a glimmer of hope emerged when Chris discovered a housing program through his college. Recognizing the urgency of their situation, the program introduced Chris and his brother to StandUp for Kids. Meeting Denisze Zermeno, the Director of Housing and Mentoring Programs, proved to be the turning point Chris needed. Initially provided with a two-week stay at a hotel, the support extended far beyond shelter, encompassing the journey toward a stable home, complete with furniture, groceries, and an unyielding support system led by Denisze and her dedicated team.

Fast forward two years, and 22-year-old Chris reflects on a remarkable voyage of personal growth. From seeking assistance for temporary stays to establishing a permanent home, Chris credits Denisze as a pivotal mentor. Under her guidance, he acquired essential life skills, transforming from a young man in need to a mature, responsible adult. Expressing profound gratitude, Chris no longer feels alone; he found safety, genuine care, and an unexpected Christmas surprise from the StandUp for Kids team. Now, armed with an acquired guard license and a stable job, Chris not only envisions a prosperous future but is determined to pay it forward by becoming a mentor himself. His story is a testament to resilience, transformation, and the profound impact of a supportive community through StandUp for Kids.