StandUp For Kids
Civic Intelligence defined as in our syllabus “Describes the capacity for and societies to respond intelligently --- effectively and equitably --- to the challenges they face.” Olympia has an ever growing problem with homeless youth in our downtown area. As a result a Non-Profit Organization called Standup for Kids as emerged on the scene to help fight this issue that not only affects our beloved downtown area but our country as a whole. I’ll be doing a brief analysis of the organization in the following fields: Orientation, Organization, Engagement, Intelligence, Products and Projects, and Resources. The mission of StandUp For Kids is to help homeless and street kids; they are motivated by and moved along by volunteers ranging from all around the area.
With the organization existing since 1990, the StandUp For Kids—Olympia branch has been working itself very well into the local society. In a recent MLK Jr. Day event being teamed up with AmeriCorps, they were able to raise over 2,000 dollars and serve 26 kids and young adults in the Olympia area. Distributing a wide range of items to the in need young adults/kids; like tents, rope, camp packs, flashlights, etc., along with finding some very good sponsors in our local area such as: Orca Books, Alpine Experience, and Bagel Brothers to just name a few. With the Olympia board still missing two permanent members, it’s my belief that they are presenting a very strong fight and have a great vision in moving towards getting our homeless youth off of the streets.
With its National Headquarters being in Atlanta, Georgia, StandUp For Kids has programs existing in 28 states, with 4 existing in Washington; Bremerton, Olympia, Seattle, and Tacoma. They don’t plan on stopping until they have a program with-in each state. Their website is very upfront and has any information posted on there that you might need. With a national statistic of 1.5 million homeless kids out there, more than 500,000 of them being under that age of 15 and some as young as the age of nine. They have many outreach centers, to show the organization on a bigger scale, these centers contain:
• A safe environment to rest • The place to make meaningful relationships with caring adults • Referral services for available programs throughout the community • Meals and snacks • Telephone messages and mail service • Hygiene products • Job referral service • Apartment finding service (and assistance with furnishing an apartment) • Identification services (Birth Certificates, Social Security Cards, and etc. • Educational assistance (books, transportation passes, etc.) • Internet services for education instruction • Counseling referral service • Learn Independent Living Skills to get ready for an apartment • A place for kids to receive ongoing training
(Some centers may have showers and the capability to do laundry)
There are currently 8 of these full functioning centers in the United States and I’m sure more to follow. Just Us and Don’t Run away are successfully implemented programs from the StandUp to try and combat they infectious problem.
Engagement, Products and Projects
I have combined these two aspects as I feel that they are connected to the highest degree. Our local Olympia program of StandUp have been very engaged when it comes to hitting the streets and getting involved with the homeless at risk youth living downtown. Perhaps the most engagement is there Street Outreach, this takes place 2 times a week where trained member of StandUp provide mentorship to youth and the young living on the streets. The youth in downtown Olympia, have been accounted in sleeping in: alleys, rooftops, abandoned warehouses, rural and local forest covering. They schedule there time accordingly to include youth interested in education, employment, and other personal goals that might help benefit themselves. A Project in which I myself have participated in is Board & Hungry. This is a monthly dinner and board game night in which involves local business owners, StandUp staff, neighbors, and local homeless to be brought together by board games and a nice warm meal. At the Board & Hungry event in which I participated in I found myself a bit overwhelmed by the number of youth in the room, StandUp didn’t close its doors to the older population of homeless that attended for some of the older ones where parents or friends of the in need of help youth. I had a great time conversing and carrying on with members of the event and learned so much about the people who are currently living homeless in the down town Olympia area. Volunteer Social is a once a month event that is held to get help get volunteers familiar with StandUp and get them going within the system that is emplaced. Various fundraisers and events are held to success generating revenue that is then turned around and used to help purchase items which these youth need so badly in order to survive.
“Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.” --Laurence J. Peter Obviously there is no easy way to solve homeless youth, this is a complex issue with so many factors that one solution simply does not work. It is in my highest opinion that StandUp has imposed a system and philosophy that has the best intentions for these youth out on the streets. Though the goal of eradicating homeless youth has been achieved yet I believe they have shown they are making the right steps as they have regular youth’s attending events and a group of volunteers that can’t be beaten when it comes to their kindness and loving intentions. In regards to the “Civic Intelligence” of the work they are doing, I can’t see how it’s not intelligence. They have identified a problem and imposed a system to help improve upon the situation, and are dealing with adversities such as funding and constantly trying to find new ways to get the youth of Olympia off of the streets.
During the fundraisers and local events, local businesses are a source of support and have proven themselves many times. Alpine experience, San Francisco Bakery, and the Urban Onion are just a few examples of the local businesses helping out the StandUp. As a non-profit organization money is not kept within, they use it for the youth on the street. They are always looking for new supporters and volunteers to help!
StandUp is still holding their monthly meetings and are on the streets doing what they think is best for the youth of our downtown scene. They are a small group and continue to grow throughout Olympia. Feel free to attend a volunteer meeting held every first Monday of the month at the downtown Timberland Library, 6:00-8:00.