Every winter the subject of homelessness and being homeless comes to the forefront. TV stations, radio stations, community leaders, everyone wants to lend a helping hand to those in need. After all it is the time for giving and helping all mankind. Every year it seems as thought the numbers are increasing, since this is an invisible group it is very hard to give you exact figures as to how many are on the streets every year, but if you live in San Diego you can see many of them every day depending on where you go. In Downtown there are a large number of visible homeless and an even larger number of those who aren’t seen. The homeless are under bridges, sleeping on trolley tracks, in bushes, on the street corners begging for spare change and cigarettes. Every Winter shelters open up and for a couple nights the community pitches in to provide food and drinks to those that have no where to go and no family to be with.
On the corner of a very plain looking block in Downtown San Diego sits a small building with no banners, and no signs. It is here that is the national headquarters of a non profit organization that focuses on serving the youth and fighting homelessness before it can start. This non profit organization started in 1990 by a retired Navy officer, Richard Luca. Luca saw an episode of 48 hours three years earlier that documented street kids in San Diego, California. He was later shipped out to San Diego and began walking the streets trying to identify these homeless children to get them into shelters. A lot has changed since those days, and at the same time a lot has remained the same. Stand Up For Kids has grown nationwide and is a full non-profit organization. The message is two fold, if there are kids on the street that want help, they give them a place to go and help them out. The other is trying to cut down on homeless youth. Every minute a child runs away. This is too many. So Stand Up For Kids goes to schools and gives presentations about how un-cool it is to be a runaway. Children can be influences by their peers rather easily, if there is on child who runs away and goes to school to tell how awesome it is to not have anyone to anyone to tell them what to do. How cool it is to be free. This type of influence is not good. Stand Up For Kids goes around to schools that call and ask them to give them a hand. In this presentation the students are told the cold bitter truth about what life is like out on the streets, no warmth, no safe place to go, the people who are around might hurt them, the police who might go after them and cite them. Each student is given a card that has toll free numbers for help at any hour of the day so the kids can know where to go for help. In each presentation there really get into detail about what might be out there for both boys and girls: prostitution, rape, drugs, alcohol, stealing, and the lifestyle that can come from these things.
The idea that there are so many potential pitfalls that kids are facing now is overwhelming. Arming myself with some broad cultural immersion can only help when a young person walks into my life asking for help.
B. Personal Cultural Identity:
I am the son of a regular middle class Mexican American family. My father was born in Mexico and earned his citizenship by marrying my mother. His roots and culture run deep as he embodies the “machismo” that is the heart of Mexican culture. My father works five days a week and when he comes home he expects dinner to be cooked and hot on the table by the time he gets home, he leave the dishes in the sink so his wife can clean them. His wife does not drive, she does not have a “job“, although being a housewife should count as a full time job. He believes women should not have opinions nor disagree with him. According to my father college is a waste of time, I should have just gotten into a trade and learned a skill.
My mother earned...