By: Stefany Olivas, Business Manager | Photo Courtesy: Jessica Fisher, STAND UP FOR KIDS
Former student and Executive Director of Stand Up for Kids Jennifer Fisher said she volunteers for the non-profit organization because homeless kids need more resources.
She said she began looking for a way to help when she noticed homeless children at her sister’s middle school and then began volunteering at Joy Junction. When the number of homeless children became overwhelming there — she decided to do more.
“We want these kids to know that we’re here as mentors and friends. We’re regular people in the community coming together to show them that people care about them,” said Fisher.
The main initiative for the Albuquerque Stand Up for Kids branch is to help homeless children find a stable home and finish school, said Fisher.
The non-profit also helps provide food, clothing, hygiene supplies, a place to stay and resources for any kind of mentorship the kids may need, she said.
“It’s important to show them other ways to deal with their situations because they feel unhappy. They need to know that security is there,” said Fisher.
Many of the children the organization reaches out to have lost their parents or had unhealthy home lives and ran away, she said.
“We act as mentors for the kids and their parents, and work with APD if the kids are in any type of danger,” said Fisher.
The community needs to be aware that not only adults suffer from homelessness, she said.
“They are kids who are too young to get a job, too young to defend themselves, and often are having overwhelming situations at home,” she said.
Members of the organization are working to find permanent office space, transition from their winter to summer supplies and prepare for an upcoming July event which will have music, food and games for the kids at no charge.
“We want to give them everything they need, but right now we are at very limited resources. If we can’t provide it, we’ll find someone who can,” said Fisher.
The outreach team meets every Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Parking Lot A at UNM. The trained volunteers determine where they have seen the most homeless kids and work in pairs to tackle those areas.
“We’ll have as much food as possible, water and hygiene packs. The outreach phone is always on and people are available to talk and find help,” said Fisher.
Working with this organization has been overwhelming at times for Fisher, but she said it is always rewarding, especially after outreach.
The kids are always grateful for a small snack, which is often their dinner and just to have someone to listen to them, she said.
“I wanted to tell them how much I could relate to some of their feelings, but they don’t necessarily want to hear that. They just want to talk to you and they want you to listen. It’s a feeling that you don’t experience every day,” said Fisher.
For information on volunteering with Stand Up for Kids, email firstname.lastname@example.org.