A Meaningful New Mission

A Meaningful New Mission

Retired Navy officer Rick Koca founded Stand Up for Kids to help homeless teens. In the process of changing their lives, he reinvented his own. (AARP)

As his 30-year career in the Navy drew to a close, Lieutenant Commander Rick Koca spent time volunteering at a San Diego shelter that helped homeless teens. Shocked by the number of street kids, and compelled by the need to connect with these vulnerable children, Koca founded an organization to help them in 1990.

Stand Up For Kids is now a national program, run by volunteers who help homeless children get off the streets. Operating in 39 cities with 2,500 volunteers, the program is affiliated with schools and support programs but at its core provides street outreach to youth.

This video by AARP includes interviews with Koca and his clients, including one young man who calls Koca “the biggest inspiration in my life.” Koca is unique, the youth say, because he truly cares about each one of them.
This story was nominated for a 2009 Webby Award for Online Film & Video, Public Service & Activism category.


Length: 9:04

Produced, directed and edited by Julie Winokur
Photography by Ed Kashi
Cinematography by Julie Winokur and Ed Kashi
Online Executive Editor: Valerie May
Producer: Sarah White
Music Courtesy of Killer Tracks and Pump Audio