KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For some people, it's easy to give up on the younger generations. Honestly, after working with the "at risk" teenage population, I can see why people don't like to stick around for that proverbial long haul. It's difficult to love a kid through their rage and pain, or to consistently provide for someone else's kid when that child fails to show any sign of gratitude. In fact, some of the kids will do everything they can think of to show you that they don't need your help.
They don't want to be classified as "needy," but they will take everything that you can give while they call you every name in the book (and they will even invent some names that you've never before heard). Obviously, walking away from these kids is the easy thing to do. However, I simply do not accept it as the right thing to do. Neither does a local chapter of a national organization. The Kansas City chapter of Stand Up For Kids has proven time and again that they aren't afraid to do what's right by these children.
Stand Up For Kids is new to the Kansas City area. The chapter was convened by Andrea Cowsar in February 2009. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to meet the needs of Kansas City's homeless children. Ms. Cowsar has been able to organize a dedicated pool of volunteers who unconditionally care about the teenagers they encounter.
When a local homeless shelter needed safe beds for the youth to sleep in, Stand Up For Kids came through. They didn't just buy all new (and much needed) beds for the children, but they also assembled them at the shelter. The volunteers have not only cooked meals at the shelters, but have also sat down and ate with the teenagers who live there. They have organized activities that were designed to teach street kids important life skills such as money management. The group has also thrown graduation parties, provided food and safe activities for picnics, and even attended school functions for the kids. At times, some teens have tried to intimidate them, but nothing has deterred the group. Stand Up For Kids continues to show up smiling, and the youth who they serve have grown to respect them.
That respect didn't come easy, but Stand Up for Kids has never given up. Their mission statement is simply to help homeless and street kids. The organization states, "All facets of this mission shall be guided by the mandate that our volunteers shall tell kids they care about them and then, at every turn, prove it." Prove it, they do. Often, they have been one of the few reliable influences in the lives of the population they reach. They are a piece of stability in a world of chaos. Kansas City's Stand Up For Kids deserves recognition for the job they do (and do so well). In a world where difficult kids are pushed aside simply because it is the easy thing to do, someone is doing the right thing.
Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Stand Up For Kids is a great example of such a group. They are changing the world one child at a time, and I think it's time for us to stand up with them.