January 24, 2011
A Tampa woman has taken dozens of homeless teens under her wing.
Without her help, many would be faced with a rough life on the streets.
Vicki Sokolik is no stranger to most Hillsborough County high schools.
“I call them my kids. People get confused all the time because I always say my kids.
Sokolik’s been like a mother to the 60 students getting help from her non-profit, Starting Right, Now.
Leto High School senior Sergio Velazquez is one of them.
He was on the brink of homelessness, when Sokolik came to his rescue.
“My father died when I was young. My mother never read books or cared about my education, he says.
Now, he’s getting ready for college.
Sokolik started the non-profit about three years ago.
It’s aimed at helping homeless youth gain independence and continue their education.
They also help teens and their families find housing, jobs and even learn the basics of banking.
“There are probably a lot of people out there that maybe the mom isn’t educated and can’t work the system and needs help doing that, and I was determined that I was going to be that person for these kids, Vicki says.
Giving back comes naturally to this everyday hero, a woman whose selflessness is changing lives.
Starting Right, Now is a referral only agency.