Several Be the Cause volunteers from Orange County and Los Angeles showed up bright and early on Saturday, June 11 to participate in L.A. Works day, a day of community service throughout 6 different inner-city sites. Thousands started the day off at the California Plaza, where in true L.A.-style we were given a calesthenic workout/warmup before heading off to some of the poorest areas in the city in need of a makeover.
We were assigned to Hollenbeck Middle School in Boyle Heights, where we repainted and refurbished the landscaping of the school. How wonderful it must have been for its students to come to school on Monday morning to see how everything had been transformed — as if little elves had tidied things up and made their campus a much more welcoming environment over the weekend. However, this was not the only school that needed it. Other volunteer teams were bussed off to Ann St Elementary School in Lincoln Heights and Sunshine Elementary School in East Los Angeles. On one hand, it’s unfortunate that these schools — and I’m sure there are several like them, particularly in these areas — are so underfunded that they cannot maintain their facilities. On the other, it’s great that so many volunteers are out there to make up for what’s lacking.
I can’t say that I know from firsthand experience what it’s like to attend a public school in those parts of town. But I do know that it’s good to be able to study somewhere nice, that having a learning environment that’s warm is so much more conducive to learning than some place that looks cold, rigid and worn; a place that is taken care of, and in turn makes me feel like I am being cared for as well. I hope those kids get that feeling too.
Boyle Heights, Lincoln Park and East L.A. are not known for being pretty places, but in fact have a reputation for being poor and gang-infested. The L.A. Works website calls Hollenbeck Middle School a “safe haven for the surrounding communities.” In this case, I think we’d done more than given the school a paintjob. As a community we’d simply gone out to do what everyone should do for their kids: make them feel like they count, give them a space where they can feel nurtured in every aspect of life.
Here’s a link to the official L.A. Works day recap: