Be the Cause

Helping at the Homeless Drop-in Center

This day was one of the best BTC days for me and I’ll always remember….

Sometimes things just feel right in the heart…and I always wanna be everywhere at once. I wanted to go to Downtown Women’s Center on Sunday also…to see Pizza being served to the ladies that I got to help make…(just cutting tomatoes and onions-sob sob) the night before with the DWC crew in Carson.

I was happy to be at the 1st Cong. Church with Sonali in Lonnnnng Beeeach this last Sunday.

Some things that I absolutely loved about the day:

1. I got to sit by Sonali’s son, Ethan and help him hand out oranges to those we served. He got such special compliments. A lot of people said to him, “Thanks, buddy!” or “You’re a mighty young volunteer!”. He’s four years old. I won’t say only four…this kid is beyond his years…one man even said to Ethan…”You look like that Grant celebrity..” and I’m thinking…Cary Grant? And the man said, “Hugh Grant…do u know who Hugh Grant is?” and what was sooo sweet is he added: “you have a special heart, young man..I can tell.” or something of that nature. :) People were sooo inspired to see this boy serving…they said such precious things to him. And Ethan and I had fun too seeing who our next customer was going to be…I kinda felt like I was at a lemonade stand or something.

2. I loved handing out the cosmetic/toiletry kits to people. WE DO NEED MORE THOUGH!! Not everyone got one :-( But what was so wonderful is that people were understanding and we said that we’d be back again…Sonali, Cheryl, and I…along with another boy named Ethan (about 12)that we called: Ethan 2…scrambled to put kits together when we ran out of the ready made ones. If anyone would like to go buy some travel size items and put in a large ziplock bag with a small towel, please feel free. Sonali can give you more details.

3. This one lady was asking for dessert. I said it would be coming to the tables after dinner. Just for that bit of information, she gave me a hug.

4. I spoke to a few people about how they were doing…one man has been having joint problems. His knees have been hurting because of sleeping outside in the cold. But he still went up to Sonali and said: How are u boisterously…and told me later that it’s so great to see people smiling. Another man named Joaquin…said he doesn’t like his name. He knows a tremendous amount about Hollywood and movies. I told him that there’s a famous actor named, Joaquin Phoenix and that his name is cool. He still didn’t believe it but proceeded to tell me about some of his favorite movies. There was a guy volunteering with us at the church hall named, Antonio…and I said something to Joaquin like…there’s Antonio Banderas! Joaquin came up to my car before I left the church. Cheryl and I were talking in the car a bit because I hadn’t seen her for a long time. Joaquin let she and I know that we are both kindergarten girls…I thought…what the heck?? But then he intelligently told us all these things about how someone who’s 70 is really 200 light years or something of the like…and even though his telling of stuff was a little off kilter, it felt like he was describing what some would term: young souls and old souls…I feel I’m an old soul…but am very young at heart. So some of his describing of things was making sense. His other friend came up and talked to us…but almost in nonsensical language and we politely said goodbye for now.

5. I feel going to this drop-in center and serving like this is so special. We did this on Thanksgiving day too. If anyone who’s wanting to go to Change of Heart weekend gets a chance to help out and serve at this church before that weekend, it would be great…because you really get to observe and really speak in such down to earth conversations with people…and there’s such a gratitude…it really almost made me cry a few times over…

With love! Thank you, Sonali for putting this day together…

More “food” for thought

Everytime we serve lunch at the Downtown Women’s Center, it keeps getting better. Because there has been so much support from all of you — especially you volunteers who have enthusiastically thrown yourselves into this adventure — we have been able to individually spend more time with the Ladies. While they were called for “seconds,” Rucha and I took some time to stand back, amazed at how things have changed. Having more volunteers has truly made a difference, not just in how the lunch service flowed, but also in how some of the Ladies have started to respond to us. Supun’s last post talked about a Lady named Julie. I had a chance to talk to her on Sunday, and was so happy when she told me that she now looks forward to Be the Cause serving lunch. She said that other volunteers do not take the time to chat with the Ladies, and they just leave when they’re done. I didn’t mention that that was me and Rucha about a month ago, despite our good intentions. I’m starting to realize again what good things happen when we all slow down and take some time.

With Sukh leading the way, in true Be the Cause fashion we gathered in a circle for a few minutes of silence to reflect on why we serve. Having not done that in a lllllooooonnnngg time, I tried not to giggle as I closed my eyes. After a minute or so, I couldn’t help but peek to see if anyone else was looking up yet. Anyone who has volunteered with me will know that sometimes I tend to spazz over the details, and when it’s time to get certain tasks done I’m all gung-ho. It’s easy to find something to do — prep the veggies, unwrap cheese, dress the salad, wash the dishes, load the ovens, etc. I think about those minutes of silence and how they were to contribute more meaning to these tasks. Sukh reminded me of something I’d forgotten a long time ago — one of the reasons we serve is to learn about ourselves, to grow, not just to have our actions benefit others.

Personally, I believe that one of the reasons why it’s so hard to slow down is because it’s scary to be confronted with all of your insecurities and socially-imposed presumptions about other people and “charity” work. Some of the same feelings I had when I first started going to the DWC this year are still there. It’s still daunting, not knowing how well we’d be received by women who have suffered through domestic violence. Will there be someone who hasn’t taken their meds today, a toughened runaway? Are other volunteers ok with doing more than serving food? Overwhelmingly, the answer to the last question has been yes. But of course those questions also have their underlying issues.

In reality, this adventure has been nothing less than beautiful and I’m grateful for it. For the record, no volunteer has ever been put in harm’s way at the shelter.

This and the project at Project Achieve are very timely with the Change of Heart Weekend coming up. Even though some of us may be aware of the of social conditions that cause homelessness, I know I can benefit from some time to adjust my perspective on how I personally contribute to those conditions and disparities. For one, I think that the fear I have can be assuaged by reevaluating how I interact with people overall.

The goals or meaning of this project seem to keep changing, but it’s all moving in the direction of self-awareness and social consciousness. Plus, I’m learning a lot about cooking for a tiny village. I know there will definitely be more inspiring and thought-provoking things to come.

When lunch was over, the Ladies clapped for us, as they always do. If any of you who were there didn’t hear it, there was an old Fiipino Lady who was saying, “Congratulations!!”

I can’t help but clap for all of us too! Congratulations!! Yay!!

1 2 3 4 5 6 35