Thursday, November 18, 2010

Local Service Spotlight: Worcester Youth Center

Homeless and at risk youth can most often be found hanging out on the streets, in parks, at convenience stores, etc. Often they do not have any place to go to fill those hours between school (if they are still attending) and sleep.

In Worcester, we are lucky enough to have the Worcester Youth Center, a facility founded in 1994 through a partnership between youth and adults. This center provides youth with educational, recreational, and social activities on weekdays.

The Worcester Youth Center Mission
The mission of the Worcester Youth Center is "to provide a place where youth can build lasting, positive changes in their lives" (Worcester Youth Center Website). The center ensures that their programs operate on a youth empowerment and development model, focusing on the following key areas:
  • Leadership
  • Health and Wellness
  • Education
  • Employability
The center offers various programs including movie nights, GED/Basic Skills, and Work Readiness. They recently extended their hours to not only cover weekdays, but also Saturday afternoons.

Location/Hours of Operation
Mondays-Fridays: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

326 Chandler Street
Worcester, MA 01602

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Join Our Team - November 23rd!!!

That's right. Our monthly volunteer orientation is coming up. Save the date:

Tuesday, November 23rd
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Worcester Public Library
Saxe Conference Room
3 Salem Square
Worcester, MA

What is a volunteer orientation?
The volunteer orientation will provide you with an overview of the youth homelessness statistics both nationally and locally, what StandUp For Kids is, and how you can get involved.

What happens after volunteer orientation?

All volunteers are required to have background checks and then attend a 3 hour basic volunteer training. 3 hours might seem like a lot but it goes by pretty fast and provides you with a good foundation for your volunteer experience with SUFK.

For those who plan to become outreach counselors, an additional 3 hour outreach training is required. This is an interactive training which provides you with an introduction to street outreach and our core services for the youth of Worcester.

How can I volunteer?

The great thing about our program is that we have a variety of roles you can take on whether you want to work from home on marketing materials or work with our kids directly through street outreach.

As a volunteer for over 3 years now, I've had the ability to experience pretty much every element of the program. There have been times when I can only contribute from behind-the-scenes with general support. The group is pretty flexible.

Of course, for the outreach counselors, we do ask that you provide at least a six month commitment of four hours a month. It is important for our youth to see consistent faces on a regular basis. They are in need of consistency and people they can count on. Our number one goal is to provide at-risk and homeless youth with people who care and who they can trust.

Want to learn more about our program? Attend the volunteer orientation and I'll try to answer as many questions as I can about this great opportunity to join the SUFK - Worcester family.

- Kristina England
SUFK - Worcester Volunteer

Thursday, October 28, 2010

November 6th: Youth Homelessness Awareness Event

November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month
StandUp For Kids - Worcester is inviting you to participate in our November awareness event:

Youth Homelessness Awareness Sit-in
Saturday, November 6th
4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
in front of Worcester City Hall
Candlelight Vigil at Dusk
Contact us at with any questions.
2nd Annual Worcester Talent Showcase
Also, save the date for our 2nd Annual Worcester Talent Showcase, which will be held on Thursday, January 27th (evening). We are still working on the logistics but last year we pulled in some incredibly talented musicians, poets, and dancers.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Point in Time Survey

The Worcester Teen Housing Taskforce held their first point in time survey in August 2009 to get a sense of the homeless youth population within the Worcester community. The second annual survey was conducted this week on Octoer 20, 2010. Our outreach team participated by surveying youth on the streets during our weekly street outreach. We'll keep you posted on when these survey results will be released.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Local Service Spotlight: The Mustard Seed

If someone asked you where they could grab a hot meal, what would your answer be? Most of us have a home, a kitchen, a refrigerator full of food. But there are many homeless adults and youth who struggle to get a good meal each day.

One of the main requests we get as an organization is for food bags. Our counselors carry around backpacks full of these food bags on outreach night. What do our food bags consist of? Chef Bouyerdee, a Fruit Box, Water, Chips, and maybe a fruit bowl. One food bag may be good for a youth to have when nothing else is available but we really don't want the kids living off the contents of these food bags on a continous basis.

Thankfully, Worcester has a wide array of food pantries. Worcester also has a long running soup kitchen called the Mustard Seed.

What's a soup kitchen?
A soup kitchen, or a free meal program, allows people to come in from the cold and have a warm, cooked meal.

How does the Mustard Seed operate?
When you enter the Mustard Seed, it is one big open room with several tables and chairs. The meals come from local community organizations and churches. Volunteers from the Worcester community (college students, church members, etc.) arrive each night to set up, serve dinner, and clean up afterwards.

Where is the Mustard Seed located?
The Mustard Seed is located at 93 Piedmont Street in Worcester at the corner of Austin and Piedmont. Don't go looking for a building. This soup kitchen is quite literally a house with a sprawling lawn. During the nice weather, there are picnic tables outside where people can sit and enjoy their dinners.

When are meals served?
Supper is Monday through Saturday from 4:00 to 6:30 during the winter and 5:00 to 6:30 during the summer. There is also lunch served on Sundays at noon.

The Mustard Seed is one of many places a homeless youth can get a free meal in Worcester. If for some reason the hours at the Mustard Seed don't work out or a youth needs breakfast or lunch, we have a two page list of options.

There's no reason anyone should go hungry. To start learning what options are out there, check out the Worcester Resources website ( It's good to be aware of the local food pantries and soup kitchens in your area. You just never know when or why you'll need to know about such services.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Local Chapter Update: Anna Maria College Raising Awareness

On Monday, October 4th, Kristina England (Co-Director of Adult Training) and Ally Trull (Volunteer) presented to students of the Homelessness course at Anna Maria College. The class addressed such topics as local and national statistics, reasons youth could end up on the street, and what we can do as a community to prevent youth homelessness. Thank you to Professor Evangelina Gonzalez and her students for such an engaging discussion.

Farewell to Liz Burrows
Volunteer Liz Burrows left the chapter on September 25th. She is currently applying to graduate schools and studying for the GREs. Liz volunteered with us for a year, which including four months a Co-Executive Director. Liz brought a lot to the program, including some wonderful budget tracking forms and leading the planning efforts for our backpack outreach program. Thank you Liz for your amazing contributions over the last year! We'll miss you!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Local Service Spotlight: Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester

In April 2010, one of our chapter volunteers, Kathy Senior, mentioned she was attending training to become a literacy tutor at the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester (LVGW).

Believe it or not, we hadn't heard of this great local service until Kathy joined their tutoring team.

What is LVGW?
LVGW was founded in 1973 to provide literacy services to the Worcester community. Over 100 trained volunteers serve as literacy tutors providing basic reading and English for speakers of other languages. Tutoring hours are confidential, free, year-round services.

In addition to one-on-one sessions, the program also offers classes taught by certified ESL and reading teachers. Upcoming courses are listed right on their website (

Where is LVGW?
LVGW is located at an ideal location for many of our youth - the Worcester Public Library at 3 Salem Square in Worcester.

How can I find out more info about LVGW?
Glad you asked! :) Check out their site at You can also contact the office at or (508) 754-8056.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chapter Update: The Outreach Team Grows

The Street Outreach team has some new additions: Amber Dudley, Kathy Dalianis, and Amanda Ethridge.

Amber joined the team back in August. She is quickly learning the ropes and finding her own outreaching style.

Kathy and Amanda just started outreaching this week. As part of the training process for outreach counselors, they will both shadow a pair of outreach counselors for a few weeks before interacting with the youth. Shadowing gives counselors the ability to observe other counselors and to get to know the areas in which we outreach.

Our Needs: Public Relations and Fundraising
Want to volunteer from home? Well, public relations and fundraising are two of the great areas in SUFK - Worcester where you can pretty much volunteer from anywhere (even a coffee house).

The chapter would love to get the word out about the program to other community services, local organizations and churches, and even get a radio gig or two. In order to do this, we need some great volunteers to join our Public Relations and Marketing team.

We would also like to continue to plan fundraisers and work on fund development. We have a great Grants team, but could use a few more hands to raise funds.

Contact us at for more details.

Or attend our next volunteer orientation:

Tuesday, October 12th
7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Worcester Public Library
Bank Conference Room

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Local Service Spotlight: Pernet Family Health Services

This week, I thought I would focus on Pernet Family Health Service. Pernet is a local service founded by the Sisters of the Assumption after their arrival in Worcester in 1955. Their mission is to help disadvantaged families, to "support the physical, social, pyschological and spiritual development of individuals and families by providing home-based health and social services that lead to long-term strengthening and enhancement of family and community life." (

So what services does Pernet offer to foster individual and family development? There are several programs available:
  • Early Intervention
  • Emergency Assistance Program
  • Family Support Program
  • Fathers & Family Program
  • Homemaker Program
  • Maternal Child Nursing
  • Spiritual Life Program
  • Worcester Healthy Start Initiative
  • Young Parent Support Service
  • Youth Program
As StandUp For Kids works with at risk and homeless youth 21 and under, I thought I would focus on three of the above services. I encourage you to read their Programs page for more great information on the services above:

The Fathers and Family Program

The Fathers and Family Program offers weekly parenting/support groups and individual case management services. This program also provides support services to incarcerated fathers.

Young Parent Support Service
The Young Parent Support Service assists youth 23 and under with parenting skills, time management methods, and help in establishing a support network.

Youth Program
The Youth Program offers a free, drop-in Homework Club, an after school program run by local colleges. Pernet also offers a Mentoring Program for middle school students on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. that includes arts and crafts, recreation, and youth events.

Pernet Family Health Services is located at 237 Millbury Street in Worcester.

For more information, visit their site at or call Pernet at 508-755-1228.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Local Service Spotlight: AIDS Project Worcester

During the next few months, I'll be randomly focusing on several key services within the Worcester community. It's not only important for our outreach counselors and our kids to know about these services, but it's critical for the community as a whole to become familiar with them.

This Week's Spotlight: AIDS Project Worcester

AIDS Project - Worcester was founded in 1987 "to provide education to the community about HIV/AIDS and services to individuals and families infected with HIV disease." (

What Services does AIDS Project Worcester Provide?
When a person contacts the program, his or her needs are assessed and a care plan is established. Services can include:
  • Referrals (e.g., Local Medical Providers, Support Groups, Legal Services)
  • Advocacy (e.g., Phone Calls to Local Services on Behalf of the Consumer)
  • Transportation Support (Cab Vouchers and Bus Tickets for medical appointments)
  • Housing (e.g., Rental Start-Up Program, Homelessness Prevention Program)
  • Nutrition Program
  • Mental Health Services (e.g., Individual Counseling, Group Counseling)
Another great program offered is the Peer Program. The Peer Program staff are people living with HIV. "Sometimes just being able to talk to someone else who is HIV+ can make all the difference." (

Those interested in services provided by AIDS Project Worcester can set up an appointment with a Case Manager or drop in during business hours (location business hours are provided on their site).

The not-for-profit organization has two different locations in Central Massachusetts: 85 Green Street in Worcester and 39 Elm Street in Southbridge.

Check out more information about this local service at their website, including statistics on the current population they serve and new projects in the works:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Where is the closest food pantry?

Do you know where the closest food pantry is to your house?

What about to your workplace?

When is the food pantry open?

Don't know the answers to these questions.? Well, many of the youth we work with also don't know the answers. It's not the first thing your parents or your community teaches you about as we don't think of anyone in our lives becoming homeless.

We regularly update a two-page document of local places to get meals (food pantries and soup kitchens). If we run into any youth that are having trouble affording their rent and their meals, we pull out the list and work with them to find a few places that are close by. We also provide them with the hours of operation for these places as they are not usually open all day (in fact, some are only open once a week).

So here's your assignment this week. Whether you live in Worcester, Boston, or all the way in Austin, Texas, I want you to findone food pantry in your area. Get the details on the place: it's name, location, hours of operation, and any other pertinent information. Then tell at least two people you know about the food pantry.

Next week, we'll start focusing on some great local services in the Worcester area.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Want to volunteer with SUFK?

Our next volunteer orientation is Wednesday, September 8th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Worcester Public Library (Banx Room).

RSVP to to receive an orientation packet.

Welcome Amber Dudley and Amanda Ethridge!
We are pleased to announce we have two new volunteers: Amber Dudley and Amanda Ethridge. Both are trained as outreach counselors and Amber has already jumped into weekly street outreach.

What would you like to hear about?
As this is a weekly blog, I'd love to get some feedback and suggestions on what you would like to hear about. In the next couple weeks, I'll be talking about local services in a "Did you know" theme to help promote awareness of all the great services out there for youth, but would really love recommendations for the months to come. E-mail me at

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SUFK Worcester Volunteers are the Best

Just in case we don't say it enough, SUFK Worcester Volunteer are the best!

Our volunteers not only donate several hours to street outreach. Many also help keep us going on the administrative end with fund development, time tracking, marketing, etc.

The Grants team continues to be hard at work researching grants for us. Both Liz Burrows and Donna Katsoudas (Co-Executive Directors) are helping the grants team establish proposals for future services that could use some funding.

The team is also working on ways to improve our outreach center. Donna K. and Kathy Senior (Outreach Counselor) have reached to Community Health Links to find out where there are possible gaps in the services offered to youth.

Also, the team did a great job organizing our first big fundraising event: The Community Fundraiser at Moe's Southwestern Grill). Thanks to Rob Donnelly (long distance volunteer) for creating the flyer for this event. And a special thankyou to Moe's Southwestern Grill for hosting the event for SUFK - Worcester!

Grab a Burrito on Thursday, September 16, 2010 (Your Purchase Helps SUFK - Worcester!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010
11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Moe's Southwestern Grill
Shrewsbury, MA

Print the flyer and bring it with you.*

*You must present a flyer for 10% of your purchase to go to SUFK - Worcester.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Youth Homelessness Exists

Here's a request.

Search the web this week for youth homelessness articles.

Over the past two weeks, I've been searching google each day for relevant articles pertaining to youth homelessness. When I find an article that covers National youth homelessness or an important theme on youth homelessness, I post the article to our Facebook Fan page.

What I didn't expect to find was so many articles. Articles all across the country talking about the same thing - the growing numbers of youth finding themselves on the streets.

How do they find themselves on the streets?
Some articles discuss the growing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer population (referred to as GLBTQ for short). Kicked of their homes for coming out, they have no where to go but the streets with the lack of services out there for them.
Other articles focus on kids that have aged out of foster care. They turn 18 and lose all the services and support they've been accustomed to as kids. They have no family, no one to go home to or to call just to talk. How many of us call our parents on the way home from work just to chat and hear their voices? These kids are missing that support system.

The articles range in theme but one thing is clear - youth homelessness exists. The problem is that so many want to solve this issue, but how do we solve it? We need to get out there, find the kids, assist them.

They need a family. A support structure. They need someone who says "I care about you".

They need someone to say they have a life worth living and that they can live it.

Think about it.

The solution isn't an overnight solution. It's a commitment to our youth that will take years. But it's a commitment that needs to happen.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Latest Update from Worcester

The Worcester team has been hard at work in several areas:
  • Our grants team is currently created a fund development spreadsheet and working on some grant applications. This team is fairly new (Brian Finley and Jason Goranson joined in Spring 2010). It's amazing to see how much they've done in such a short time.
  • The outreach team is growing! This means we can expand our outreach hours and days. Several outreach counselors have been trying new times and new locations. We still ensure we go to the same location on our regular Tuesday night outreach, but we have also found another busy location in Worcester to start outreaching.
  • Cleon McClure, Co-Director of Adult Training, successfully facilitated his first Basic Volunteer Training this month.
  • We have two new volunteers: Amber Dudley and Amanda Ethridge. Both will join the outreach team after outreach training this Saturday. Welcome to the group, Amber and Amanda!
  • The group is looking at other ways to raise funds. Stay tuned for more information on our Moe's Southwestern Grille Day!
Okay, that's it for now. Have a great week and see you again next Thursday!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

What is the McKinney-Vento Act?

Just last week, an article appeared in The Times Record entitled "Teens on their own". The article tells the story of Trina, a young girl living in a homeless shelter. Trina became homelessness before the age of 18.

Trina is one of many young adults that lives without a permanent address and couch surfs with friends. Some homeless youth, even with a temporary place to stay, may not have access to basic resources such such as food, showers, or a good night's sleep. Even if they have basic resources, they may not have access medical or health services. It can be hard to stay in school when you're tired or sick and unable to access resources others take for granted.

So how did Trina stay in school and finish her high school degree? Luckily for Trina, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act exists for homeless youth.

What is the McKinney-Vento Act? Well, I could give you the whole low down but that here's item 1 of the McKinney-Vento Statement of Policy:

"(1) Each State educational agency shall ensure that each child of a homeless individual and each homeless youth has equal access to the same free, appropriate public education, including a public preschool education, as provided to other children and youths." (

This act allows great people such as the shelter worker and school counselors in Trina's life to support homeless youth and provide them with the resources they need. How do schools help students that are homeless (whether with family or on their own)? Each school and district has a McKinney-Vento Representative. That representative ensures that all students identified as homeless receive basic resources such as food and clothes. They support them and ensure students can stay in school.

Local services as shown in The Times Record article often provide assistance to McKinney-Vento Representatives, such as providing them with resources needed for the youth.

StandUp For Kids - Bremerton ( in Washington is a great example of a program supporting youth protected under McKinney-Vento. They provide various services to over 400 kids a week within the Bremerton school system. As part of their backpack outreach program, they distribute backpacks full of supplies on a weekly basis to the representatives that are then distributed to the youth.

The StandUp For Kids - Worcester program is currently launching our own backpack outreach program. We need the help of our community to get this program started. We need groups and schools to volunteer to host food and supply drives for our backpack outreach program.

Contact us at for more info on how you can help.

In the St. Louis area? They're launching a backpack outreach program too. In the Bremerton area? I'm sure they'd love a helping hand, too!

Or think about starting a StandUp For Kids backpack outreach program in your community...

Read up on the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act at

You can also get local information about Massachusetts McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance at

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Outreach - What is it?

Outreach can really be broken down into three types of outreach at the SUFK - Worcester chapter:

1. Scouting. When we kicked off the outreach team, this was the first thing we did. We visited various different locations in Worcester trying to determine where the kids were. Now that we have a regular location, we don't necessarily have to scout. But it's good to survey new locations, especially when you have a good number of outreach counselors. Six outreach counselors scheduled for one night of street outreach? Send four of them out to explore and keep two familiar faces at the regular location to talk to youth. Those who go scouting then engage in street outreach with youth they meet during scouting.
2. Street Outreach. Quite simply, street outreach is getting out there and talking to youth. We go to a regular location once a week. Every week we approach new and regular youth. We provide them with immediate resources and also encourage them to set long term goals. We also provide them with information about local services, such as food pantries and GED Programs. Do you know where the closest food pantry is to your house? No. Then chances are an at-risk or homeless youth doesn't either.
3. Outreach Center. Once a youth has set his or her long term goals, we set up an appointment with him or her at our outreach center (or a location convenient to the youth) and assist the youth in identifying the steps needed to complete that goal. For example, a youth wants to apply for a job. The basic step to start with is what is the youth interested in doing? What is his or her skills? And then start to expand on that with asking if the youth has ever developed a resume, job searched, etc.?

We are also adding a 4th Type of Outreach to our program!

4. Backpack Outreach. We'll provide immediate resources such as food and clothes to McKinney Vento Reps at the local schools. These supplies will then be distributed to youth identified as homeless within the school system. We are currently working with our first school to kick off this program. We also need to get local support to provide supplies and pack backpacks (no training needed to do this... just your time and energy!).

Of course, that's just a brief description of each type of outreach we do. Want to learn more about our program? Want to help out? Contact us at to attend our next Volunteer Orientation (Wednesday, August 11th).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Hot Days of Summer

Summer is normally the busiest time for us during street outreach. The weather is great which means more kids are outside. This time of the year always becomes a great time to recruit new volunteers as well.

Of course, with record high temps in the last couple weeks, we actually had to conduct our most recent training in a room with no air conditioning at about 95 degrees. So we'd like to do a special shout out to new volunteer Sarah Blondin for withstanding 3 hours in a quite toasty room.

Also, congratulations to Cleon McClure who conducted his first Basic Volunteer Training. Cleon will be co-training new volunteers with Kristina England.

Kristina England also conducted the July Volunteer Orientation. We had two prosepctive volunteers attend: Amber and Amanda. Both Amber and Amanda are interested in outreach counseling. We look forward to having them both as members of our outreach team. Amber and Amanda will attend training later this month.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Looking a bit closer at youth homelessness

When our counselors go out every week, it's hard to approach complete strangers on the street. But for the youth we meet, it's even harder.

One of the core pieces of outreach counseling is building trust with a youth.

The number one reason for youth homelessness is child abuse: neglect, physical, sexual, and/or emotional.

These youth have been hurt time and time again.

Then a group of complete stranger walk up to them and say they can help.

Yes, outreach counseling can be overwhelming, sometimes frustrating. But when part of counseling is building a relationship with kids who don't have a "family", don't have someone to care about them, it's pretty hard to imagine yourself not doing this work. When you can tell a kid that he or she can get a warm meal to eat down the street or his/her GED, it's worth it.

And it doesn't become so hard when you realize how much these youth need someone there just to say hello to them everyday, just to tell them they matter.

We can work with a youth once, for months, or for years, helping motivate him/her to fulfill short term and/or long term goals. It takes time. Change does not happen overnight. That's the hard part. Being there though all the good days and not so good days. But it's also the best part of being an outreach counselor.

We are always excited to have more outreach counselors on our team. Join us at our next volunteer orientation - Wednesday, July 14th at 7:00 p.m. Contact for more details.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Join Our Program - Volunteer Orientation

You're invited
Volunteer Orientation
July 14, 2010 @ 7:00 p.m.
Wesley United Methodist Church
114 Main Street
Worcester, MA

Please RSVP to Once you RSVP, you'll receive more information, including our orientation packet!

How long does orientation last?
Volunteer Orientation is one hour. Once you complete orientation and your background form is processed, you will then attend volunteer training (3 hours for basic volunteers, 6 hours for outreach counselors).

What will I learn at orientation?
  • The National Statistics on Youth Homelessness
  • The Local Statistics on Youth Homelessness
  • A Brief History of StandUp For Kids (SUFK)
  • Ways You Can Become Involved in the SUFK - Worcester Chapter

Thursday, June 24, 2010

SUFK Worcester Welcomes a New Co-Executive Director

We are pleased to announce Liz Burrows, Assistant Executive Director, has stepped up to the position of Co-Executive Director for StandUp For Kids - Worcester. Liz has maintained the program budget for the last six months and also led the effort to establish a Backpack Outreach Program within the Worcester School System. We are excited to have her serving as our direct contact with the StandUp For Kids National Office!

2nd Annual Worcester Talent Showcase in the Works!
In April, we held our 1st Annual Worcester Talent Showcase event with performances from some fine local talent (poets, musicians, and dancers). We held this event as the kick off to our 24 Hours on the Street event. As it takes a good deal of time and effort, we have both decided to hold it separate from our 24 Hours on the Street event and begin the planning process this summer. The event will be held sometime in January 2011. We'll keep you posted on the details. Any entertainers interested in participating in the event can contact

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Outreach Stats for May 2010

How many kids did we provide outreach services to in May 2010?

Good question! Here's the stats:

We assisted 11 regular kids.
We assisted 65 new kids.
We provided 12 kids with meals.

Many of these kids ask about other services. We always provide them with a brochure of local services, including food pantries, overnight shelters, and important hotlines. Our counselors act as liaisons between these kids and the local services within the Worcester community.

Do you know where you can get a free meal? Free health care? An overnight bed?


Neither do most of our kids.

Join our outreach program. Contact for details on the next information session.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The SUFK - Worcester Spring Newsletter is Here!

Read all about our latest accomplishments and upcoming events!

StandUp For Kids - Worcester Spring 2010 Newsletter (PDF)

Have questions about our program? Curious to find out more. Email us at

Chalk on the Streets: This Saturday!
Come draw with us at the Downtown Common this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. We'll be in front of City Hall. Look for us in the purple shirts!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Check out the updated StandUp For Kids website

The National Site Gets Jazzed Up
The National StandUp For Kids website has been redesigned. Check out the changes at Feel free to e-mail us with your thoughts on it. We'd love to hear from you all.

Also, check out our program site. We are currently redesigning it and revamping the content: Plus note that our program site URL has changed (if you have it saved as a favorite, don't forget to change it).

Help Needed: Our Outreach Drop-in Center
The Worcester program has a great outreach drop-in center we run on Saturday afternoons (12:00 to 4:00). Lately, we've had trouble covering all four hours and could really use some extra outreach counselors. If you are available on Saturday afternoons and want to help youth within your community build their life skills, please contact us at

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Come Draw with Us on Saturday, June 12th!

Save the Date:
Chalk on the Streets/Turn Purple Campaign
Saturday, June 12th, 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Worcester Downtown Common (Sidewalk in front of City Hall)
Questions? Email

What is Chalk on the Streets?
Mari Sayama (Director of Community Resource Development) proposed an awareness event to us last Fall called Chalk on the Streets. Since the initial idea, we have held two Chalk on the Streets events.

Our volunteers show up at in front of City Hall (Downtown Worcester) with a box full of chalk and start drawing youth homelessness statistics on the sidewalks. We also replicate the StandUp For Kids logo using a pretty nifty stencil made by Mari Sayama.

While drawing, we answer questions from those passing by about StandUp For Kids and about youth homelessness. Plus, anyone can come draw with us! So stop on by and have some fun.


Turn the Streets Purple!
In the Spring 2008, Kristina England (Director of Adult Training) came across a great awareness event called the Turn Purple Campaign on the StandUp For Kids - Philadelphia website.

All you have to do is dress in all purple and hand out fliers to passersby about the number reason for youth homelessness: child abuse. Plus, you can paint your face purple, too! That's completely optional as we hear at least one volunteer does some pretty lopsided smile faces (in fact it might be the same girl that discovered the event).


Just come and talk to our volunteers during both events. We love getting to know the great people of the Worcester community. Just look for us in our Purple shirts.

Father's Fest - June 12, 2010
That's right, we are busy beavers on Saturday, June 12th. If you are busy on Saturday morning and can't make it to our awareness event, feel free to stop by our table at Father's Fest from 12:00 t0 4:00 at Institute Park. We've got a great new crossword puzzle that even some of our longest running volunteers can't solve... Thank you to Liz Burrows for her continued marketing creativity.

Welcome Diane Racine and Jason Goranson!
We have two new volunteers! Diane Racine has joined the program as an outreach counselor. Jason Goranson will focus on grant writing and fund development.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Saying Farewell to Ally Trull, Director of Outreach

Earlier this month, we mentioned that Ally Trull, our first Director of Outreach, will leave us at the end of this month. Ally has contributed countless hours to the StandUp For Kids - Worcester chapter over the past three years. In honor of all her hard work and commitment, we recognized her during our Spring 2010 Volunteer Appreciation Party.

In picture (counter clockwise): Ally Trull, Donna Katsoudas (Executive Director), Liz Burrows (Assistant Executive Director), Jeff Burrows (Volunteer), Sue Kramer (Director of Kid Development), Cleon McClure (Co-Director of Adult Training), Jose Alvarez (New Director of Outreach), Kristina England (Co-Director of Adult Training).

Ally was presented with a scrapbook and some nifty little gifts before she leaves for a summer of volunteering. We hope to see her back in the Fall, perhaps with a job somewhere in central Massachusetts (Fingers crossed).

Ally's Last Street Outreach
Ally Trull conducted her last street outreach this week. Ally was joined by four members of the street outreach team: Jose Alvarez, Austin Eisele (Outreach Counselor), Kristina England, and Donna Katsoudas. We met several new kids during street outreach and even recruited a perspective volunteer for our June 16th information session.

Passing the Torch: Jose Alvarez, New Director of Outreach
We are excited to announce that Jose Alvarez has stepped into the position of Director of Outreach. Jose has been part of the outreach team for two years. He is best described as a lovable teddy bear by the other outreach counselors. Jose's responsibilities will include providing outreach updates to the street outreach team, managing the street outreach schedule, and most importantly, acting as a liaison between our kids and the many local services within the Worcester community. Ally Trull has transferred her wealth of knowledge to Jose. As an outreach counselor said, "It's tough shoes to fill" but we know Jose can do it!

Hard Shoes to Fill: Ken Latham, Co-Executive Director
It's with much sadness that we announce Ken Latham's departure from the Co-Executive Director position at SUFK - Worcester. Ken was our direct contact to the National Office. He maintained our monthly reports and provided us with all the latest news from National. Ken also served as an outreach counselor for a year. His presence will be truly missed. We wish him the best in his future ventures.

Upcoming Events
Today (right now actually), three of our volunteers are participating in the Worcester Police Youth Summit. Liz Burrows (Assistant Executive Director), Jeff Burrows (Volunteer), and Rob Donnelly (Volunteer) are running an information table at the event to get the word out about youth homelessness in the Worcester community. Liz also unveiled some new handouts today - a StandUp For Kids Crossword Puzzle and a StandUp For Kids Word Search. Liz definitely wins most creative volunteer for such exciting awareness materials!

This weekend, new volunteer Cleon McClure will step into the Co-Director of Adult Training position. He will co-train new volunteers with Kristina England.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

We've got new volunteers

Over the last few months, StandUp For Kids - Worcester has welcomed the following new volunteers:
  • Angela Della Porta
  • Brian Finley
  • Cleon McClure
  • Kathy Senior
  • Michelle Varner
The program currently has 25 volunteers. We are proud to have each and every one of them. Their commitment and passion is what makes us a success.

Thank You to Ally Trull
After two years as Director of Outreach, Ally Trull has stepped down from the position. Ally is graduating from Clark University in a couple weeks and will be leaving the area to pursue future endeavors. Her dedication and insight over the past three years has helped bring the program to where it is today. We'll miss you, Ally!

Join Our Great Group of Volunteers!
Our next information session is Wednesday, May 12th, 7:00 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist, 114 Main Street, Worcester. Please contact for more details.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thank You: 24 Hours on the Street a Success!

Thank you to all our supporters, pledges, and volunteers for making our 2nd Annual 24 Hours on the Street event a success!

Special Thanks
To Meaghan and James McDonough from West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard for dropping off their yearly donation of supplies. They arrived with a van full of hygiene kits, clothes, food, sleeping bags, etc.

To our Worcester Talent Showcase Performers: Boys & Girls Club Hip/Hop Group, Talisman, Lea Deschenes, Salsa Encendida, Jackie Morrill, and Brad & Ron. Also, thank you to Isaac Boetang for MCing the Talent Showcase!

To all our volunteers who slept out all night in front of WUMC. We're glad you all had fun. Maybe we'll do without the early morning frisbee next year. :-)

To everyone that helped out on Saturday and attended our events.

The 24 Hours event is over but the reality of youth homelessness is not. Keep spreading the word. Let the community know that youth homelessness exists.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Becoming an Outreach Counselor

The first reaction I receive when I say I work with homeless youth is:

"That must be challenging."

Yes, outreach counseling is challenging, but it is also rewarding. We meet many wonderful youth each week. We educate them on the services within their community, provide them with immediate resources (e.g., food, clothes), and, most importantly, we provide them with someone who cares who they are and what they want out of life.

As an outreach counselor, you learn how to face your fears. And the funny thing is that all those fears don't seem so large in the scheme of things when you realize that "Your worst day will never be as bad as these kids best days" (Rick Koca).

How would you feel if you could save a life?

Find out by becoming a member of our outreach team. Our next Information Session is at the Worcester Downtown Common on Saturday, April 24th at 11:30AM.

Our Outreach Stats for February 2010
  • 9 Regular Kids Assisted
  • 40 New Kids Assisted
  • 2 Kids Provided with Meals

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Join the Fun: Participate in 24 Hours on the Street

Here's the schedule for 24 Hours on the Street. Bring your friends, family, and neighbors. And cross your fingers for great weather!

The 24 Hours on the Street event is intended to raise awareness about the reality of youth homelessness. StandUp For Kids - Worcester is hosting their second annual 24 Hours on the Street from April 23, 2010 to April 24, 2010.

Check out the list of activities happening below and join us for one or many of these activities. Spread the word to your friends, family, and coworkers.

**Important** You don't have to participate in all 24 Hours. Just pick an event on the schedule that interests you (e.g., Worcester Talent Showcase, Scavenger Hunt!)

Worcester Talent Showcase
Wesley United Methodist Church
114 Main Street
Local Musicians, Poets, and Dancers perform.$2 at the door or a pop-top can of pasta (i.e. Chef Boyardee)

Salsa Lesson
Wesley United Methodist Church
Get a beginner’s lesson on Salsa Dancing for free!

Candlelight Vigil
Wesley United Methodist Church
13 Kids die on the streets everyday. Join us for this Candlelight Vigil to remember these youth and spread awareness about youth homelessness.

Team Trivia
Wesley United Methodist Church
Team up for a trivia challenge!

Sleep Out/Games
Wesley United Methodist Church
Some youth have no other option but to sleep on the street, whether under a bridge, in an alley, or on a bench. Join us with your sleeping bags and tents for a sleep out to raise awareness about youth homelessness. Breakfast will be served at 8:00 a.m.

Turn Purple Campaign
Worcester Common
Get purpled and spread awareness about the number one reason for homelessness – child abuse.

Picnic/Information Session
Worcester Common
11:30AM-12:30PM (Lunch at noon)
Learn more about our national organization, local program, and youth homelessness statistics. Find out how you can get involved in our mission to help at risk and homeless youth.

Come Draw with Us
Worcester Common
Draw statistics and art in front of city hall.
Youth 21 and Under: Get involved in our chalk art competition. A winner will be announced at 5:45 p.m.!

"A Mile in Their Shoes" Scavenger Hunt
Starts at Worcester Common
Teams of four go in search of services and items a homeless youth may need.

Homeless Sit-in
Worcester Common
Awareness event with signs containing facts about homelessness for passersby.

Chart Art Competition Winner
Worcester Common
Volunteers judge the chalk art created by youth 21 and under.
The winner will be announced at 5:45 p.m.!

Closing Ceremony
Worcester Common
Join us for our closing ceremony. Enjoy a slice of cake on us!

Feel free to contact us with any questions or to volunteer at the event:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

24 Hours on the Street is 4 Weeks Away!

And in just a couple days, we'll be posting the schedule.

Events include:
  • Worcester Talent Showcase (Musicians, Poets, and Dancers)
  • Sleep out (Bring your sleeping bag!)
  • Scavenger Hunt (Teams will go in search of local services that serve at risk youth)
Interested in volunteering at 24 Hours on the Street? Contact us at

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Do One Thing This Weekend

As we countdown till the end of March (and ring in Spring), take some time this weekend to make a difference in someone else's life.
  • Give your kids a hug.
  • Hold the door open for your coworker.
  • Smile at a stranger.
Then share it with us!

Don't Forget: 24 Hours on the Street
In one month, we'll be holding our 24 Hours on the Street event starting Friday, April 23rd at 7:00 p.m. Stay tuned for the full schedule of events.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Five more weeks until 24 Hours on the Street!

Save the Date:
Friday, April 23rd through Saturday, April 24th

The volunteer team is finalizing the schedule of events.

Bring your sleeping bags and backpacks for a sleep out on Friday night to raise awareness about youth homelessness.

More information is forthcoming.

Contact if you are interested in signing up for an event or donating supplies to the cause.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Want to lend a hand? Have a skill you really want to use?

We'd love for more people to join our program. Imagine, you could help out with any of the following:
  • Outreach - Direct contact with our kids, providing them with assistance on a weekly basis (Tuesdays or Saturdays)
  • Public Relations - Contacting newspapers, magazines, radio stations etc. to get the word out about youth homelessness
  • Volunteer Recruitment & Retainment - Recruiting new volunteers, recognizing volunteers for their achievements, checking in on volunteers for feedback and suggestions. If you're a people person, you'll love helping out in this area. :)
  • Fund Development - We would love to one day open a full outreach center (we currently have a drop-in center) but we need great people who love to host fundraising events, write grants, or request donations.
  • Marketing - spreading the word through ongoing marketing tools. Love to create posters? Help us out with graphic design. Love to update websites? Write content for our blog, program site, facebook, or whatever.
We have a fantastic group of volunteers and would love to meet more fantastic people.

Sign up for our next info session by contacting (Wednesday, March 17th at 7:00PM).

Of course, we realize everyone is busy so we would also just like to thank you for your continued support. You are the best!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Countdown to 24 Hours on the Street

We're currently planning our 2nd Annual 24 Hours on the Street event.

Save the Date: Friday, April 23rd and Saturday, April 24th.

This year we're thinking BIG!

Preliminary activities include:
  • Worcester Talent Showcase - Fundraising event with local talent including poets, musicians, and dancers.
  • Sleep Out - Spend a night on the streets of Worcester with our volunteers
If you are interested in receiving more information about this event or signing up to volunteer at activities, please contact us at

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Come Draw with Us in Two Days!

Just a reminder that our volunteers will be at the Downtown Common on Saturday, February 27th from 11:00AM to 12:00PM spreading awareness about youth homelessness and the SUFK organization.

Stop by and draw with us (with chalk of course!).

Thanks as always to those near and far for all your wonderful support!

What's Happening in Worcester
The Worcester program is currently working on a few great projects. We are planning a Backpack Outreach Program to help kids at our local schools. We are also working with a student at Abby Kelley Foster High School to start a School Club. The School Club kicks off tomorrow evening with plans to help our program with food drives and awareness events. More importantly, they will be the first high school in Worcester to engage in SUFK's preventative program - Don't Run Away. They will present the DRA presentation to middle school students in the Worcester community.

We've also got more plans in the works so keep reading our blog for the latest updates! :-)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Come Draw with Us

2nd Chalk on the Streets Event: Come Spread Awareness About Youth Homelessness
The StandUp For Kids volunteers will be outside on Saturday, February 27th from 11:00AM to 12:00PM. Stop by the Downtown Common to draw on the sidewalks (with chalk, of course!). You can chat with our volunteers about the program and also learn about youth homelessness. Plus, when you draw youth homeless statistics on the sidewalk, you'll be helping spread awareness to the Worcester Community!

Feel free to contact us with any questions at or 774-242-4289.

Food Drive Request
We're in need of food bags. If you would like to host a food bag drive for our program, please contact us at for more information.

January Outreach Numbers
Our outreach counselors were busy in January:
  • 7 Regular Kids Assisted
  • 26 New Kids Assisted
Great job, guys! Keep up the good work and stay warm!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Worcester Focuses on Youth Homelessness

As we reported last week, the Worcester Youth Housing Task Force released survey results from an August 26, 2009 survey conducted by several services within the Worcester community. The numbers have definitely sparked some interest, including an article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette - "Homeless youths emerge from shadows in the city -- Worcester confronts needs for programs."

Our program is one of the only (if not the only) program that street outreaches to youth under the age of 18 in Worcester. Our goal is to make them aware of all the services out there for them so that they don't have to end up sleeping in their car, a park, or even couch surf. As Rick Koca, Founder of StandUp For Kids, has said, these kids are not only homeless, they feel hopeless. They need to know that (1) someone out there cares about them, (2) they can have a life beyond the streets.

We were very fortunate this week as we had six perspective volunteers show up at our Tuesday Information Sessions. We also had quite a few people stop at the door and peer in as we talked about youth homelessness and our organization's mission.

Remember that August 26th was only one day in one year. The number of homeless kids in Worcester may have risen or dropped since then. These kids needs the help of their community. If only one kid is homeless out there today, we need to find and assist that one kid. No matter how high or low the number, every kid matters.

Contact us at on ways you can help. We all lead busy lives so if you can't make the commitment to volunteer, you can always help us spread the word. Your voice could make the difference.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Survey of Homeless Youth 2009 Results

The Numbers Don't Lie: Youth Homeless in Worcester
On Thursday, January 28th, the Worcester Teen Housing Taskforce released the results of a youth homelessness survey conducted on August 26, 2009.

Ally Trull (Director of Outreach) and Mohsin Syed (Outreach Counselor) attended the press release.

Of the 513 kids surveyed on August 26th, 142 of these kids identified themselves as homeless. 63% (91 kids) identified as living in a shelter. 37% said they were either couch surfing, permanently living with friends if under 18, living in a car, park, or street.

Imagine living on the streets in the weather conditions of this past week? The snow. The wind. The below freezing temperatures. Hard to imagine for us, too. That's why we're out there every week no matter what the weather conditions. If we can find and assist just one of these kids through our street outreach, then we have accomplished something great.

If Worcester has 142 homeless youth, just think of how many kids could be homeless in your community? If you are not in the Worcester area, you can start a SUFK program in your neighborhood. Check out the StandUp For Kids website for more information (

These kids aren't living on the streets. They're dying on the streets.

Reminder: Our Volunteer Information Session is Next Week!

Join us on February 9th to learn about our program and how you can help.

We're having two info sessions that night. Attend either the 6:30 or 7:30 info session in the Banx Room of the Worcester Public Library.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Immediate Need: Food Bags

The Worcester Program conducts street outreach on a weekly basis. The main supply that we carry around with us is food bags. We are running low on these.

Host a Food Bag Drive!

You can host a food bag drive for StandUp For Kids - Worcester.

Here are the items in our food bags:
  • Juice Box/Water
  • Candy Bar
  • Pudding/Fruit Cup (pop top)
  • Cup of ravioli, spaghetti, etc. (pop top); or Bumblebee Chicken or Tuna Salad with Crackers
  • Granola Bar
  • Napkin and plastic ware
Plus, one of our volunteers would be more than happy to come and talk about StandUp For Kids during your food drive.

Contact us at for more information.

The 2009 Outreach Stats

We've totaled up our outreach numbers from 2009 and wanted to share them with all our wonderful supporters.

We outreached to over 290 kids, provided 132 meals, assisted with two ID/Birth Certificate requests, and sent one kid home by request.

All this was done by a program made up of only 18 volunteers.

Imagine how much we can do if we double the number of volunteers we have today.

Contact us at if you are interested in helping our program.

Information Session Date Changed!

We've postponed our February 2nd info sessions to February 9th:

Info Session
Worcester Public Library
Banx Room
Tuesday, February 9th

Thursday, January 21, 2010

We've Got New Ways You Can Get Involved

We're planning two new programs in 2010: Backpack Outreach and the Don't Run Away Program (DRA).

So what is Backpack Outreach? Our program will collaborate with a local school to provide homeless youth with backpacks full of supplies and food for the weekends. A few of our volunteers are beginning the planning stages of this outreach program but we would love to have more volunteers involved. How would you go about getting involved in this program? You can attend one of our two next information session:

Volunteer Information Session
Tuesday, February 2nd
6:30PM-7:30PM or 7:30PM-8:30PM
The Banx Room, Worcester Public Library
Register now:

That's right! We're having two information sessions in one night. We realize that depending on your schedule, you could be sitting down to eat dinner with your family or working the late shift. Now you can pick from two time frames. :-) Thanks to StandUp For Kids - Boston for suggesting this idea!

The Don't Run Away Program is a bit different from our other services. This program is a preventative program run by high school or college students. Students go to local elementary and middle schools to present the story of Squatter, a kid who runs away from home. The presentation helps inform kids of Squatter's other options rather than running away. It also shows kids how lonely and scary the streets can be for a kid.

Two of our volunteers are working with a local high school student to begin the first DRA Program in Worcester! This program is a great way for high school students to get involved with StandUp For Kids before joining the local program. Although the DRA Programs are run by students, we could use a couple more volunteers to assist us in our efforts to start DRA Programs at schools within the Worcester community.

If you are a high school or college student and you would like to start a DRA Program in the Worcester area (or for that matter, anywhere in the U.S.), please feel free to contact us at

We'll have a lot more news very soon! We've got a lot of interesting stuff in the works, including our 2nd Annual 24 Hours on the Street Event!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Warming the Streets of Worcester

Keeping Haiti in Our Thoughts
The StandUp For Kids - Worcester program is keeping the people of Haiti in our thoughts and prayers. Check out the following site for ways to help out:

2009 Volunteer Hours Statistics: Way to Go Team!
Co-Executive Director Ken Latham just tallied up the numbers for volunteer commitment in 2009. Our volunteers dedicated 1,120.25 hours to the program last year! Outstanding work, guys! You're amazing!

Spreading the Word: Conversations with the Community
Our volunteers will be very busy in the next couple months. We'll be sitting down (or standing up) to open up the conversation about youth homeless with the following groups:
We'd like to thank these groups for inviting us to speak to them about our mission. Their interest in our program continues to make our presence more known to the community.

If you would like one of our volunteers to come present on the SUFK program to an organization, youth group, agency, etc., please feel free to contact us at