While walking through Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs, passersby might have seen Victoria Stone, the executive director of nonprofit Pikes Peak Justice & Peace Commission, and mistake her for a homeless woman.

The next day, she would be walking out of the courthouse after assisting as an outreach case manager for Urban Peak Colorado Springs, a nonprofit that helps youth find a way out of homelessness.

Whether doing outreach for Urban Peak or guiding J&P’s Urban Experience, where participants live homeless for a  day, Stone has advocated for those less fortunate in the region since 2008.

“I think everybody in the city should do the Urban Experience,” said Stone, who became the executive director of J&P in February. “It’s an all-day walk around Colorado Springs. We do them all year long. Sometimes we’re walking in the blazing heat; sometimes we’re walking in the freezing cold. It just gives you a step into a day in the life of a homeless person.”

Before working at J&P as its executive director, Stone served on its board for 10 years, and each year she and other board members participated in the Urban Experience.

“Even before I really got involved with J&P — that just really impacted me, because I was working at Urban Peak at the time. It really made me think about how hard it would be if this was my real life day in and day out,” she said.

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When she’s not furthering J&P’s mission of nonviolence and sustainability, Stone runs her own youth leadership development group in Colorado Springs called Lead, which is free, meets twice a month and has grown to 20 kids, ages 8 to 16, since it started in 2014.

“I’ve had many groups and organizations that helped me grow and helped me become the person I am,” Stone said. “If we start helping these kids at that age, where are they going to be when they’re my age?”

Stone recently worked for the Board of Cooperative Education Services, serving Agular, La Veta and Walsenburg, but said she wanted to have more of an impact in Colorado Springs, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

“There was an opening and I was wanting to come home,” Stone said. “I want to do work in my own community and be in my own community. As much as I loved my work at BOCES, it was really hard. … I wanted to be home for my kids and J&P needed an executive director.

“I’m looking forward to doing the work and really spreading the mission of J&P around the community.”

— Audrey Jensen

What makes Colorado Springs home?

I think it’s just a feeling you have in your heart. Like I said, I have to be working in Colorado Springs. It’s my place, my people.