Friday, July 28, 2017

DOOR Story - Day 4

LA Food Bank
On the morning of Day 4, we went to the Food Bank. When we arrived, there were two other volunteer groups visiting California. The three groups split off into separate operations. Our group was sorting bread based on expiration dates, then packaging boxes with the bread that wasn't  expired.

In total we filled up 5 pallets each with 45 packaged bread boxes. At the end, we moved around 20,000 pounds of bread, which was a big help to the organization, and to the people who are in need of food. Going to the Food Bank was a great experience.

Our final evening ended with worship.  All four youth groups joined together to close out a terrific week.  We heard from speakers about immigration and what God is calling us to do.  Some or our youth helped to lead the worship music - and did a wonderful job!  We are eager to get back home and share more details of our experiences.  If you have time, stop us at church and ask us to tell you more. We have stories to share and hope you will hear them some day.

DOOR Story - Day 3

Serving at The Lighthouse
The Lighthouse is a ministry of First Presbyterian Church N Hollywood, our host church.  It feeds the homeless in the area twice a week.  They also provide parish nurses to help with medical needs.  We prepared and served the guests their noontime meal.  We also had the privilege of visiting with some of them.  The stories we heard will stay with us.  

Homeboy Industries
This program is incredible for people who want to turn their lives around for the better. We went on a tour of the facility and our guide was very nice and knowledgable and welcoming. He clearly was a man of great faith, but we found out later that he had run away from home at 16, been in prison for 23 years and had only been out for 6 months. But the opportunities he was given at homeboy to take classes, learn skills, and gain job experience had really given him a new perspective on life. Homeboy was full of these amazing stories of people who were given a second chance: whether it be through painful tattoo removal, opportunity to finish school, or the ability to be hired with a criminal record. Everyone that comes there for help, leaves with references or a plan for their future and it was a privilege to see. After a day of incredible experiences, we decided to take our night off and do something fun.

Our "free" night at DOOR
We went out and got some great burgers at a place near the church called Shake Shack. After that and some sightseeing, we got to the main attraction: an escape room! The basic premise was that an archeologist had used our help to steal the constitution, and then framed us for the crime. We had 60 minutes to find the stolen document and make it out before the Feds burst in the room and took us prisoner. The room was full of puzzles for us to solve and it took a lot of deliberation and teamwork. We were ecstatic when we escaped the room with only 8 seconds to spare. All in all, our Wednesday night was a lot of fun and definitely one to remember.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

DOOR reflections from Tuesday, July 25

Our second day at D.O.O.R. consisted of us traveling to MEND which means, Meeting Each Need with Dignity. Our supervisor Art, has volunteered at MEND for 6 years. The jobs they had us do, consisted of packaging meals for single people and for families.

The meals had multiple cans of food, rice, beans, soda, pasta, and fresh produce. While, others removed canned foods from palettes and put them on shelves. After a lot of work, 68 man-hours we were told, Art took us on a tour of MEND. MEND was started in the early 70's in someone's garage. It provided food and clothes to the needy. Along with providing food and clothing, they branched out to providing computer training, gardening, sewing, English learning, eye care, dental care, medical care, portable showers, and help people earn jobs. They feed anywhere from 300-400 homeless per week. As well as, 300-400 families per week. After, our tour we ate lunch at MEND. Which was very good! After lunch and our tour we returned to our stations, and continued working for another hour.

When we got back to the church, we all walked down to 7-11 to get Slurpees. After our Slurpee trip, we played cards for 2 hours with some of the other youth groups.

For dinner, we did an exercise called a solidarity walk. Which meant they weren't giving us dinner but we had to feed ourselves, without any money. We were split up into 2 groups, girls and boys, and we walked the streets asking for money. Some of us were given money but other were turned down. It was uncomfortable to ask people for money and when they said no because it was very discouraging. Some of us came back to the church with food and others didn't. Everyone thought this was a difficult to approach people. After this activity, we had a guest speaker named Dion Ramos come and talk to us about homelessness. He talked to us about the myths and the stats of homelessness. He shared many stories of helping the homeless. Our second day was filled with up's and down's but overall an amazing day.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

DOOR Los Angeles - Monday reflections

Out first night in Los Angeles was followed up by a pleasant morning and a day of service. Today, we went to the Alexandria House, a non-profit organization that provides daycare and summer camps for children from pre-k to fourth grade.
As volunteers for this program, we played with and took care of the children as part of their summer camp program. Seeing the kids enjoying themselves was simply beautiful for all of the volunteers there. Watching them warm up to us throughout the day was meaningful to us as humans; it was nice to know that we were considered friends in the kids' eyes.
Some of the highlights of the day included the large game of Apples-to-Apples with a few of the children and the craft time later in the day when the kids constructed "mouths" by gluing marshmallow "teeth" into a paper mouth. After the program, half of our group went to Home Depot to pick up the things they needed to fix a broken fan in the guys' sleeping area while we went straight back to the church. On the way back to the church, we had time to reflect on what we'd just experienced. Looking out the window on the cityscape of L.A., we wished that everyone could have the chance to have fun and not worry about their problems, knowing they are safe and cared for, as we helped the kids to do today. This deep reflection was followed up by a Slurpie betrayal: the half of our group going to Home Depot had stopped by 7-11 afterwards and gotten Slurpies without us.

At the evening program today, we had discussions about how every one has a different story. Even if multiple people are in similar situations, they may or may not have come from the same background or had the same experiences. We did an activity with all of the different groups participating in DOOR: a guest speaker had us step forward when she read a statement that was true for us. The statements included some funny ones, like "Take a step forward if you have really cool pants," and some were more uncomfortable, like "Take a step forward if you or someone you know has ever been incarcerated." As the activity went on, we observed who was standing with us. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences in people who looked or seemed totally different. The activity helped us to bond while also giving us an example of just how diverse even a single room can be.
Anna, Sarah, and Leo