By: Shawn Hansen – April, 2011
Working as a full time real estate agent at Century 21 in the North Shore for the past eight years, Domenica Beraldi-Giordano is also a volunteer for Stand Up For Kids.
Rick Koca, a retired U.S. Navy Officer, founded Stand Up For Kids in 1990. The headquarters for this organization is located in Atlanta, GA and is now helping kids in 45 cities across the country.
“In order to better understand what we do, it is important to understand who these kids are,” said Beraldi-Giordano. “I think when people hear ‘runaway,’ they envision a rebellious teen. The population we deal with would more accurately be described as, ‘throwaways.’”
Studies say that 90% of children who run away from home are victims of sexual abuse. With 2,500 volunteers providing care for this averaging 3,000 hours of service every month, the goal is to turn lives around of children who are homeless, or have ran away from home due to violence.
“Our homeless population is provided with everything from basic hygiene necessities to warm clothing, sleeping bags, socks, food, shelter, health care resources, bus tickets, education information and most importantly they are provided with the consistent presence of caring adults who are there to listen,” said Beraldi-Giordano.
With the mission to have children do whatever they want, whether it is to find a home, go to school, find a rehab program, or return home, Stand Up For Kids is working to get kids off the streets, and have them live better lives in a stable environment.
As these kids have 3-12 months to become independent, the residents are provided with an RA, and 1-2 mentors who are available around the clock for any questions, concerns, or advice. Receiving academic support from tutors, and strong relationships with mentors, and school officials, hosts of Stand Up For Kids teaches everything from banking to finding a job, along with apartment hunting.
“The kids are found in a variety of conditions,” said Beraldi-Giordano. “Some are living in tents constructed with discarded materials others are living in train stations, under the shelter of a bridge, in alleyways between buildings. The luckier ones are simply couch surfing from place to place.”
Beraldi-Giordano said it rarely happens that homeless children will come looking for help, and that their volunteers go around to find these people in alleys, abandoned buildings, the woods, through the brush, along rivers and beaches, caves, and many more places looking for street and homeless kids.
On Thursday, April 21 there will be an auction and raffle to raise money for this organization at Chuckles Comedy Club at 946 Osgood Street in North Andover.
“Chuckles has generously donated all ticket sale profits to Stand Up For Kids,” said Beraldi-Giordano. “The silent auction and raffle tickets will benefit the organization 100%. We have been very lucky to have several companies and individuals donate to the auction. Beacon Hill Wine and Gourmet, Century 21 Northshore, Jillians Boston, Vein Solutions, Burtons Grill, Maria Francesco Salon and Day Spa are a few.”
Having their first comedy show to benefit Stand Up For Kids, Beraldi-Giordano said she is working alongside Nicole Pizzi-Cerundulo, who she attended high school with, and comedian/magician Johnny Pizzi.
“She knew of my involvement with Stand Up For Kids and recommended we host a fundraiser in conjunction with Chuckles,” said Beraldi-Giordano. They have been so generous and helpful, I can’t say enough. We are so grateful for their generosity and patience.”
To donate directly to the Boston chapter, select the donation link at standupforkids.org/boston.
Shawn Hansen is the host of Shawn Hansen’s Comedy Corner on TV. He writes for the Tewksbury Advocate, and has published articles in 10 newspapers. For more info about Hansen, go to shawnhansen.weebly.com.