We are so proud of our communications intern Melodie Tamse, who spent a good chunk of her summer doing service projects in Los Angeles. She just arrived back in the office on Monday and is sharing her experience with us!
“For the past ten days I experienced Los Angeles from a unique perspective. Instead of just doing the traditional touristy activities I set out on an adventure with 17 teenagers and two other counselors and helped the communities of Los Angeles.
On our first full day in Los Angeles we headed to Hermosa Beach. We biked along the bike path all the way to Manhattan Beach and watched the surfers catch some waves. That night we headed to Hollywood and saw the famous Hollywood sign and placed our feet in the footprints of the most celebrated celebrities such as, the cast of Harry Potter, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, and even Donald Duck. After a fun-filled day exploring Los Angeles we prepared for our first service project.
The next day we worked with the Orange County Rescue Mission, which is a beautiful transitional facility for the homeless. The guests stay on the campus for 18 to 24 months and rebuild their lives. While at the Orange County Rescue Mission we met with one of the guests, Erica. She told us how her kids kept on being taken away from her while she was on the streets and finally she was sent to jail. After her time in jail she realized that she did not want to lose her kids again, so she decided to straighten up and apply for a spot at the Orange County Rescue Mission. Since her time at the Mission, Erica has become one of the key admissions administrators and talks to perspective guests about how their lives will change for the better after entering the campus. After listening to Erica’s inspiring story, we started our service project that would last two days. We ran a food drive at three locations, Albertson’s, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s. After two days of collecting food, we received over 3,000 pounds of food donations for the homeless.
After two successful days of service at the Orange County Rescue Mission we headed out to our next adventure, Venice Beach. At Venice Beach we walked along the boardwalk and took in the sights. There were street artists, street performers, and even celebrities along the path. Some of our trip members met Frankie Muniz while he was filming a short film in the middle of Venice Beach. Also at the Beach, we saw the huge body builders exercising at Muscle Beach. Our day at Venice Beach was very exciting to say the least.
The next day we started our second service project at The Boys and Girls Club of Harbor City. Before we started interacting with the kids we learned about the background of Harbor City. We learned how difficult the kids living in Harbor City have it. The directors of the club mentioned that they go into lock down whenever they hear helicopters hovering above the city because that means that the police are trying to find criminals that are on the loose. They then explained that they go into lock down at least twice a week. One of our trip members asked, “how do the kids feel when they go into lock down?” and everyone was surprised at Ebony’s response. She said, “It is a normal part of their day, they don’t worry or get anxious because it happens so frequently.” After our talk with Ebony and Bobi, we appreciated everyone and everything in our lives a little more. We then spent the rest of our day at The Boys and Girls Club playing basketball, jump rope, and foosball with the kids.
As a way to celebrate a successful first day at The Boys and Girls club we drove to our next adventure, Temescal Canyon where we hiked to the top of the mountain and took in the idyllic views of the Los Angeles skyline on our left the Pacific Ocean on our right. The next two days at The Boys and Girls Club were filled with more fun as we played different games with the kids and held a Penny Carnival on our last day. At the carnival we all led different booths such as face painting, the cupcake walk, dot drop, and soccer shoot out. The kids’ faces lit up when they won their prizes at each booth. It was great to see the kids and the teenagers enjoy the carnival together.