VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – An estimated 1.7 million children experience homelessness across the country every year, according to the nonprofit StandUp for Kids. Now the local chapter of the organization is trying to help.
It was a few years back when Ryan, who did not want to share his last name, was arrested in Virginia Beach and spent time behind bars. When he got out, he had no job, no home, and was without his son.
“He was with an aunt and uncle in Richmond and I wanted to get him back of course,” Ryan said.
That’s when he turned to StandUp for Kids Hampton Roads. Ryan said, “If I didn’t know about it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Volunteers at StandUp for Kids helped him find a place to live, get a job, and get custody of his son.
“Helped me literally do everything I needed to do,” said Ryan. “Now, I’m stable and I’m where I want to be in life. You can always move forward, but I’m here.”
Some of that support and guidance came from Nicole Pixler, executive director of the nonprofit. Pixler puts endless hours into the nonprofit, which is focused on reducing youth homelessness in Hampton Roads. Part of that help is in Virginia Beach.
“I met Ryan the day he was released from Virginia Beach jail and he came into our emergency shelter program,” said Pixler. “We got him a job the same day, got him some storage things, and then started the process of him getting his son back.”
Last month, 10 on Your Side visited StandUp for Kids’ Drop In Center in Virginia Beach.
“Here in the Drop In Center, we serve what I call food and friendship,” Pixler said.
She says the organization helped more than 1500 teens and young adults last year alone.
“It’s a huge issue,” Pixler said. “People don’t want to talk about it because it’s uncomfortable. Who wants to think about a 12, 13, or 14 year old on the street, right? Especially when its getting cold, but it’s a problem here and it’s a problem everywhere and it’s one we’re trying to solve.”
This month, which is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, Pixler hopes you’ll join the equation and help.
“When you take a kid off the street who has nothing and then see them months later, a year later thriving in their own environment that they’ve created and worked for, that’s my payoff,” Pixler said.
For her, that payoff includes watching Ryan and Adam enjoy a game between father and son.
“There’s a lot of support here, there are people who are going to push you, there are people who are going to help you,” said Ryan. :They want to see better for you and that’s easily, you can tell that with these people.”
You can learn more about getting involved by clicking here.