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StandUp For Kids makes Atlanta its new home base

Atlanta has a new non-profit headquarters in its midst.

StandUp For Kids, a non-profit organization that was founded in 1990 in San Diego, decided to relocate to Atlanta when it received a generous offer from Ron Terwilliger, chairman and CEO of Trammell Crow Residential.

Rick Koca, founder of StandUp for Kids and a retired Navy officer, said the organization made its decision “when Ron Terwilliger offered us two floors of office space for two years at a dollar a year.”

The space at 83 Walton Street in downtown’s Fairlie-Poplar district will serve two functions. It will house the national staff of the organization, which runs primarily with the help of volunteers. And it will have an outreach center for the homeless youth that will be open three nights a week.

The outreach center will be a place where the kids can get a variety of services — such as a shower, a new set of clean clothes, opportunity to check their Facebook page or referrals to other services. Koca expects that the center initially will serve 40 to 50 kids a day.

In Atlanta, it is estimated that there are between 4,500 and 5,000 homeless youth that could use StandUp Kids’ services.

“In our country, a child runs away every minute,” Koca said. “Within 48 hours from leaving home, 42 percent enter into prostitution just to survive.”

Koca had another alarming statistic. “In our country, an average of 13 homeless kids die on the streets every day from abuse, disease or suicide. That’s 5,000 kids a year,” Koca said. “And that’s more than all the soldiers who have died in Iraq.”

As a grassroots organization, StandUp For Kids already has established programs in more than 20 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas/Missouri, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Washington, D.C.

Koca said the move to Atlanta also will help the organization expand its programs on the East Coast. “At any one time, there are 20 to 30 cities wanting us to start a program,” Koca said.

StandUp For Kids will have its official opening Friday evening at its new headquarters. Koca credited several firms for helping the center become established in Atlanta.

Hunton & Williams law firm provided pro-bono legal services for the past 18 months. Carpet manufacturer Beaulieu of America donated the carpeting, and Hon Furniture donated all the office furniture.

GlaxoSmithKline provided the funding to build out the outreach center located on the basement level of the building. And Starpoint Properties renovated the national office space.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


1 Comment

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