Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from StandUp For Kids - Worcester!

We're really excited to start 2010. Why? We have new goals for the new year!

Our Program Goals
  1. Recruit and retain volunteers. We already have a great group of volunteers but we could always use more volunteers in all areas of the program. We also want to make sure we keep all our great volunteers, so we'll be looking at better ways to communite with and appreciate our team (p.s. You guys and gals are the best!).
  2. Build community awareness of our program and youth homelessness. We kicked it up a notch in 2009 with two great awareness events: 24 Hours on the Street and Come Draw with Us. We'll hold both of these events in 2010 plus we'll add some more events to the line up (e.g., a rumored Talent Show). We'll also be contacting schools and local organizations to educate them on our services. And we're going to start mailing our quarterly newsletter to local organizations!
  3. Initiate Preventative Programs within the community. We've been doing a lot of street outreach to the at risk and homeless kids in our community. Now it's time to take a look at ways to prevent these kids from ending up on the streets. We plan to promote the Don't Runaway Program to local youth interested in helping the program. We will also be looking at starting a Backpack Outreach program (more details to come). Of course, we would love to have a few new volunteers to help out with this effort (Hint. Hint.).
  4. Maintain and expand our Outreach Center. We're currently looking at new ways to get the word out about our outreach center to youth. We may also look at expanding the times or days, which of course would mean more volunteers (see Goal 1... You know you want to join our program).
  5. Expand Street Outreach. We just added one more day a week of street outreach to our schedule. Now we'll be looking at new locations to add on to our current locations of outreach. Our street outreach counselors are amazing! Keep up the good work, guys!
  6. Develop our funds through fundraising, marketing, and grants. We're ending the year with some great donations from the UMass Memorial Nursing Leadership Team and DePierro Productions. In 2010, we'll continue to apply for grants and market to the local community. Plus, we hope to host our very first fundraising event!

That's six major goals for 2010! After looking at 2009's Program Goals (e.g., Open an Outreach Center, Improve our community resource documents), we're pretty sure we can accomplish all of these.

Thank you to our wonderful team of volunteers for a successful 2009 and to our supporters for helping make it a success! And welcome to 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

StandUp For Kids - Worcester would like to wish all our supporters and volunteers (both past and present) a very peace-filled and joyful holiday season.

The support of the Worcester community has been incredible.

In fact, just the other day, we got a very special holiday present.

The UMass Memorial Nursing Leadership Team raising $2,615 for the Worcester program! We were humbled by such wonderful news! This money will definitely help us provide continued services to the youth of Worcester (e.g., bus tickets home, hot soup on a cold night).

As this holiday season brings warmth and love to your household, remember to stop and help out those in need, whether young or old. Hold the door for someone on your way out of work. Help your neighbor shovel.

Whatever you do, know that it has a ripple effect. For every good thing done, another good thing is done in return.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Tis the Season

Right now, you're probably on your way to get the rest of that holiday shopping done.  You have a menu planned for your holiday gathering with family and friends.  The decorations are all up and you can't wait to just celebrate the good times with ones you love.

The homeless youth of American (and for that matter, all the homeless of America) won't be sitting down for dinner with family and friends.  They'll be alone out there hungry for a good meal.  Perhaps some will find a warm place to have a meal.  And yet, so many will go without even a hug, never mind food or presents.  

They need someone to say - "You don't need to be out here.  You can have a life away from the streets.  There are people who care about you.  Your breath, your life is precious."

182 kids will die in the next 14 days across America.  Think about that number.  

So many people say they don't have time to volunteer.  They have families, they have kids, they have jobs.  Well, so do most of our volunteers.  Sure, some are in college (madly studying for exams), while others are raising kids of their own the best way they know how.  And yet, they take time away from their week to find and help the youth of our community.  And those youth appreciate just the hellos they get.  

How do we know this?  Just recently, a kid we met only once approached us to let us know they had a job and a place to stay.  

You don't have to join a street outreach counselor.  Street outreach is a difficult commitment.  It can be overwhelming at times.  But you do have plenty of options if you choose to join our program.  Or host a fundraiser, awareness event, or donation drive.  Dedicate a few hours of your year or a few hours of your month to a good cause.

Consider what it would feel like to save a kid?  Contact us at to join now.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Farewell to Our Local Program Founder

Special Edition: Saying Goodbye to Rob Donnelly

Role model. Caring. Trustworthy. Honest (Ain't that the truth). Respectful. Funny. Hardworking. Unstoppable.

These are just a few of the words our volunteers would and have used to describe Rob Donnelly, the first volunteer for our program, our past Director of Volunteers, and a committed outreach counselor.

In just a few short days, we will say goodbye to Rob, who is graduating from college and moving on. After three years of service to StandUp For Kids - Worcester, Rob has accomplished so much and supported each of us in our endeavors to achieve program goals.

Some of Rob's Achievements:
  • Recruited every single volunteer that has joined the program to date.
  • Presented to local services and organizations about our program.
  • Outreached to youth from April 2008 (first outreach night ever) to December 2009.
  • Served on the National Don't Run Away Taskforce in 2009.
  • Planned the opening of our program's outreach center.
Rob has also been here to witness other volunteers accomplishments:

In 2008:
  • Sue Kramer ran a very successful Shaw's Receipt Campaign
  • Chris Flagg organized our first resource survey (local services information for kids)
  • Ally Trull (Director of Outreach) kicked off the first night of outreach and has since ensured street outreach happens on a weekly basis.
In 2009:
  • All of our volunteers teamed up to run a 24 Hours on the Street event in April 2009.
  • Mary Ann Stoica organized two volunteer nights to the Mustard Seed (Soup Kitchen) and created the first program newsletter.
  • Kristina England established an agreement with a local organization to open an Outreach Drop-in Center.
  • Mari Sayama ran a very successful National Youth Homelessness Awareness event in November - Come Draw with Us.
  • Brian Bickford kept our many local services documents up-to-date for our youth.
  • Ken Latham and Donna Katsoudas jumped into the Executive Director positions in November 2009.
  • Over the past two years, Jose Alvarez has attended the most street outreach nights of any outreach counselor.
As we move forward without Rob, most of us know the biggest challenge and achievement ahead of us is to make him proud of the program's future. Although he'll be gone, Rob has left a well-formed group of volunteers to step up to the plate and continue to serve the youth of our community. He would never want us to focus on the past and how things were when he was here. He would want us to focus on the future and what we can do to save the lives of homeless and at risk youth.

Thank you Rob for all you have done. We know that wherever you go, you will continue to raise awareness of youth homelessness and inspire others to become involved in community outreach. Plus, you can visit us anytime you are in the neighborhood (a.k.a. We'll miss you!)

As Jose Alvarez wrote in Rob's scrapbook: "To the Wo Godfather! Look what you've started!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thanking Our Volunteers

Many of our volunteers commit several hours a week to the StandUp For Kids - Worcester program.  Whether outreach counselors, leadership team members, or general program support, they constantly achieve great things for the program.  

To recognize our volunteers dedication, we host a Volunteer Appreciation Night once a year.  One of the big rules we have is no talking about StandUp For Kids.  It's a great way to bond with each other.  Also, some of our volunteers don't see each other for months at a time due to scheduling conflicts so the event gives them the opportunity to catch up with one another.

This year's Volunteer Appreciation Event was hosted by Ally Trull (Director of Outreach) on Saturday, December 5th.  We enjoyed pizza, games, and the company of Ally's many pets (a rat, a cat, and two kittens).

Other Updates

Thank You to the UMass Memorial Medical Center Nursing Leadership Team!
We received a congratulatory letter from the Nursing Leadership team of UMass Memorial Medical Center on Saturday, December 5th.  The Nursing Leadership team expressed appreciation and support for the work that we do with homeless youth in Worcester.  They also informed us that they are collecting a holiday donation for our program.  Our Co-Executive Directors have been invited to their January meeting to accept the donation and talk to the leadership team about our efforts.  Thank you so much to the UMass Memorial Nursing Leadership Team!  We are overjoyed by this news and thank you for your support of our program!

The Outreach Scoop
Now that the winter is here, the streets are getting quiet.  Like most of us, the kids don't want to stand out in 40 below weather.  They find warm places to hang out.  This means that our street outreach evenings are getting quiet.  Of course, this does not mean that we won't run into any kids.  You just never know.  That's why we are out there.  Because life is unexpected and the kids need us out there to find them in their times of need.

New Volunteers
In November, we trained 5 new volunteers!  Welcome to Jacque, Jeff, Megan, Perry, and Ralitsa!  

Donna Katsoudas (Co-Executive Director) also ran her first volunteer info session yesterday, December 9th.  She presented to four perspective volunteers.  Great job, Donna!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Shout Out for SUFK - Boston

You're Invited to a StandUp For Kids - Boston Benefit Event!

That's right.  We're breaking out of our Worcester box this week to spread the word about a great event benefiting the StandUp For Kids - Boston program.  

Boston Talent Showcase
December 11, 2009
Doors open @ 6:30PM
Event starts @ 7:00PM
3rd Floor
437 Boylston Street
Boston, MA

Tickets are $5.00 at the door.

Come enjoy some local Boston talent and support StandUp For Kids - Boston.  

SUFK - Boston is an amazing program!  We are grateful for such good neighbors.  :-)

For more details on the event, check their website: