StandUp for Kids in Tucson, AZ provides such a safety net for really vulnerable kids. We depend on them to guide youth in our community to safety and planning for themselves. They do this by being advocates and consistently caring people who are there to support them where they are, not where they think kids should be. When kids trust adults, they are doing something right!!
This note is in response to a post by Mr. Kevin Dickerson who believes that I and the organization with which I work did him wrong in a recent business dealing. What is most concerning is that the business relationship started just one week ago and his public response to what actually transpired seems out of balance given that fact.
Since we don’t have much money for our mission, which is to help kids who are homeless and generally at-risk, over the years we often have asked a variety of volunteers with similar talents to help us with something. It’s never been a secret – many volunteer vendors have appreciated it since people get busy and the work can get pushed to the back burner. Therefore, to keep things moving, we ask around for help and sometimes several people go down similar paths in helping us come up with the right solution.
Mr. Dickerson kindly agreed to do some graphic design work on a specific project last week for our volunteer led organization. We have a variety of designers and asked a couple to help us. Apparently, this took Mr. Dickerson by surprise and angered him as did the fact his design was not chosen. I am apologetic that Mr. Dickerson feels that way – but we have never had a situation where a volunteer vendor was upset that others also were working on a task. We’ve always enjoyed a “One team – one fight” kind of spirit. Anyway, it’s about the kids, not whose work is chosen or why.
I’m fine with someone targeting me or my management style because I am far from perfect. But, to go after the organization seems vindictive and excessive. I offered Mr. Dickerson a letter on behalf of the organization to thank him and credit him for the hours spent on his design but, he declined.
Again, no harm was intended and I do think the response from him was disproportionate to the perceived lack of consideration -- especially since we did not even have time to develop a working relationship in just a week! Who knows what good Mr. Dickerson could have done the organization in the future had this first short experience not dissolved the way it has.
What this great nonprofit means to me: It’s not about having a place to call home or even a place to lay your head at night. It’s about knowing who you are and where you come from and which direction to take the next day. Its knowing you can turn your back when it’s too painful, but return knowing everything remains the way you left it. Being able to laugh and cry and know you’re loved regardless of your weaknesses or strengths. And knowing the people you call your friends and family love you unconditionally. That is your home. Thank you StandUp For Kids for being my home and home for all of Americas homeless youth!
This organization was researched a couple of different times for the purpose of finding a worthy fit for several philanthropist wishing to donate significant funding. Some of our staff went through the volunteer process anonymously. Our belief was that although this organization has been around for almost 20 years now, it seems to struggle continuously with the same issues. Poor management, lack of proper training for its volunteers, lack of funding, poor internal controls (based on 990's listed on their website), poor communications , and lack of real assistance for the homeless youth culture. Poor management based on several factors: 2007 990's reflect major theft revealing lack of supervision and internal controls, no 990 listed for 2008 as of yet, lack of control of volunteers actions and chapters being so autonomous, national office located in 3 different cities in the past 4 years, website reflects 2 different cities currently as national office on different pages, no current staff member has over 2 years tenure - all points to chapters having very little effect on homeless youth population. Our volunteers were subjected to one weekend trainings (Fri Night - 3 hours, Saturday - 7 hours, Sunday - 6 hours) with the CEO performing the training in one of the cases ( our staff reported a very harsh, demeaning and sometimes downright rude presentation). A volunteer leader with only 6 months experience with the organization presented the training in another case. It was our conclusion that a major lack of training exist in this organization's structure. Homeless youth have immense needs, and if this organization's goal is to feed them with packaged meals, then we felt no funding was needed and if it's their intention to meet any of the other needs a myriad of issues have gone neglected in it's preparation.