StandUp for Kids

Thursday, September 21st, 2006 | All Things, Friends

StandUp For Kids is the nation’s largest all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to working with and for runaway, homeless and street-dependent youth since 1990.

The information session CS and I attended after work on Thursday was being held at the Time Warner Center (25 Columbus Circle, or according to the condo developers: One Central Park.) HN, StandUp for Kids – NYC’s new Executive Director, had arranged for the group to gather on the sun terrace of his building, and at first I was concerned that the breathtaking views from the 51st floor aerie would distract from his presentation. But once he began speaking in earnest about the organization and the volunteers’ works, we in attendance were hard-pressed not to take notice.

He began with a series of grim statistics about the plight of runaways: half of the children who leave home return within a week; those who don’t – or can’t — live on the streets for an average of three years. Of those, 5,000 die every year – 13 a day – from violence, disease or suicide. Half of the ones who do survive, become pregnant or infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

Although these children are notoriously difficult to document and track, most estimates put their numbers around the country at over 1.5 million — over 500,000 younger than 15 years old. New York City alone claims tens of thousands of these runaways in its streets, many of whom are trying to escape deep poverty, or unimaginable abuse. Once on their own, they have scant options for survival outside of begging, stealing, selling drugs or prostitution. StandUp For Kids runs an extensive community outreach program, with volunteers on the streets in shifts, reaching out to these kids, and distributing food and items such as shampoo, condoms and dry, clean socks. They target pockets of the city where runaways are known to convene: the Christopher Street piers, the Port Authority bus terminal, Columbus Circle — just steps from the very building we were sitting atop, where a two-bedroom apartment rents for $28,000 a month. For years, after late nights at the office, I’d see these gangs of teens circling aimlessly with their skateboards around 2 Columbus Circle, never realizing that they just didn’t have anywhere else to go.

As the sun set and the chill of impending autumn settled in the air, we retreated to the building’s private screening room and watched a short film about StandUp for Kid’s mission, featuring the founder, Richard L. Koca. For more information on what you can do to help, please check out the StandUp for Kids national or local websites.

TWC Terrace

After the presentation, CS and I joined HN and his friends SK and SN at Valhalla, where we met up with three other session attendees. Lively, if possibly young-skewing, crowd at this Hells Kitchen neighborhood spot, but she and I will probably stick to our own standby place. And in fact, we closed out our evening there over Diet Cokes.

There's 1 comment so far ... StandUp for Kids

September 24, 2006

That diagrid is so funky.

Go for it ...