In San Jose is an outreach center for homeless youth called The Village (25 E. Hedding St.) run by StandUp For Kids-Silicon Valley (www.standupforkids.org/siliconvalley). For a few hours, visitors have access to food, computers, fresh clothing, shower and laundry facilities and the attention of a mentoring adult. Each visitor must do a chore before leaving The Village. A chore might include vacuuming a room, cleaning a table, taking out the trash or tidying up the clothing room.
“We’re an all-volunteer non-profit organization; there’s no paid staff here,” said Michele Huntzinger, executive director of StandUp For Kids-Silicon Valley. “We help homeless and at-risk kids and youth in Silicon Valley between the ages of 12 and 24. We’re part of the national organization but we’re the Silicon Valley chapter. We have an outreach center called The Village—it’s open four times a week. Our goal is to get the kids off the streets. So we work one-on-one with the kids with the needs that they have and, with the resources out there, we try to get them in a job or a housing program.”
Huntzinger emphasized that the individuals The Village has worked with are not homeless because they don’t follow their parents’ rules.
“We have kids from the foster system; when they turn 18, they are no longer part of the foster system so they become homeless,” she said. “We also have kids who have one parent in their life and unfortunately the parent might be addicted to crystal meth or alcohol and the parent might be homeless too. So their child is off on their own. Some just come from physical or mental abuse. Some kids are from the LGBTQ community. Sometimes The Village would have programs where we would partner with Planned Parenthood or [The LGBTQ Youth Space].”
Huntzinger said that she and the other volunteers try to teach the youth who come here about healthy relationships, safe sex and available resources. She added that these individuals may have low self-esteem and lack role models. The volunteers work with them to develop skills so they can be independent.
On Oct. 28, StandUp For Kids-Silicon Valley will host its 2nd Annual Charity Fundraiser at Santa Clara’s Fiorillo’s Restaurant (www.fiorillos.com, 638 El Camino Real). Attendees can expect an evening of good food and wine, music, a silent auction and prize drawings. Funds raised this evening will go toward paying for rent and utilities at The Village.
“Fiorillo’s donates food to StandUp For Kids-Silicon Valley every other Thursday,” Huntzinger said. “We’re all about paying it forward. We love that Fiorillo’s has supported us the way that they have and that’ s why we’re having our second charity dinner at Fiorillo’s. We are renting out their banquet room for the evening and we have sponsors who are paying for the event. It costs $50 for someone to attend. Silent auction items and prize drawing items include Disneyland tickets, a Microsoft Surface Pro (a computer tablet), wine tastings at local wineries and sports memorabilia.”
Those who can’t attend the fundraiser can still Sponsor a Youth for the Winter. A $150 donation will help pay for a homeless youth’s tent, sleeping bag, blanket, tarp, wind breaker and hand and feet warmers.
“Winter can be a tough time to be out on the streets,” Huntzinger said. “The tents don’t last forever. We’re not trying to help homeless youth live on the streets but they do live on the streets. So while they do that, we want them to be safe and healthy.”
Visit www.eventbrite.com/e/charity-fundraiser-dinner-supporting-homeless-youth-tickets-36470845280 to register for the charity fundraiser dinner or to sponsor a youth.