Natalie, a current California State University student, is graduating with a degree in Theater and American Studies under the Arts and Education umbrella. She has always had a passion for expressing her abilities through her vocal and musical talents. The arts program was the driving factor in her choice to attend the University.
Natalie’s childhood was one of the unfortunate situations that scared our beautiful world. It showed her discovery of the light at the end of the tunnel. During the height of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, she found her life spiraling out of control.
Growing up, Natalie never relied on her parents for much, conscious of the financial burden on her family. She struggled to make ends meet throughout college, working two jobs while attending school part-time. Natalie was helping pay the rent at home, along with her apartment at college and her school tuition. The heavy responsibility at such a young age was very hard on her mentally. She began to lose her sense of self and belonging. And through all of this, she had minimal support from her parents as they struggled their way through divorce and their mental health troubles.
At the height of this never-ending cycle of issues, Natalie experienced a traumatic event sending her over the edge. She ended under observation at a psychiatric hospital. But at such a crucial moment, Natalie’s family could not provide the support and comfort she needed. It was only then that she was made aware of StandUp for Kids.
After meeting with StandUp for Kids, she connected with two mentors she refers to as “life-savers,” Madeline and Denise. To Natalie, they were more than just mentors or people to talk to. They became friends, family with a genuine connection and sense of loyalty together. By connecting with others and simple affirmations, Natalie regained control over her life and started taking her next steps. StandUp for Kids was able to place Natalie within a housing program, eliminating her need to pay rent for the time being. She was also able to receive free counseling and just a helping hand when needed. Natalie went on to say, “Thank God that I found StandUp for Kids when I did because I truly had no clue where my life was heading. Without them, it would have been a very dark path. More people need to be aware that organizations like these exist.”
Her time with the StandUp for Kids family has helped Natalie become more confident and empowered than she’s ever felt before. As Natalie puts it, “There is always light at the end of the darkness,” – and StandUp for Kids was able to help her realize that the light was within her.
StandUp for Kids could not be prouder of Natalie and the other youths that we meet. If you were moved by this story or want to help bring an end to our children suffering and help more youth like Natalie, please consider volunteering. You can learn more about current opportunities here: https://www.standupforkids.org/orangecounty/volunteer.