With another year of Thanksgiving coming to an end, I have so many emotions that I’m not sure where to start, so I will begin with Gratitude.
I am thankful for an abundant life, to be given a spirit that is completely free, and thankful to be surrounded by amazing friends that continue to help my tribe and I to continue our yearly Thanksgiving tradition of giving back to the homeless.
With the assistance of Denise Musitelle, and about 105 bags and clothes on hand, Our day started with driving down some of the side streets of Korea Town where we first met Blanca and Lawrence. Although they each positioned themselves at the opposite side of the block from one another, we witnessed Blanca walk over to Lawrence to share some food with him.
She had mentioned that he had a cranium injury and she seemed to look out for him. We attempted to get their story however, Blanca didn’t speak English that well and Lawrence was in between bites of his black eyed peas, so we set out to one of the biggest destinations where homeless live, MacArthur Park.
Tents lined the area on the opposite side of the pond and once the word got out that we were giving out bags of toiletries, snacks and blankets, people starting coming towards us to get their share. While we were passing out bags, another organization called Gobble Gobble were there handing out warm meals, and I will have to compliment this homeless community on how polite and gracious they were.
I ended up talking to a guy name Chris, a Van Nuys, native who was given one of our paper hearts with the messages that said “Dreams Do Come True” while speaking with Chris, I asked him what happened in his journey that got him to his point.
He answered that he needed to reset and start over again. And was starting to work his way out. And with the intention set for Chris to succeed, I had him read the message on the heart once more and suggest that he put it in a safe place to refer back to on those days where doubt wants to creep in.
We ending up leaving the large community and drove around to the other side of the park to pass out some more then headed to Hollywood where we came up to a corner near Vermont and ended up meeting Rick, Nikki and T Dog who set up their life on the sidewalk beneath a carwash. We spent about 20 minutes having a pretty in depth conversation about Life. Nikki shared her story of how getting into the wrong relationship caused her to end up on the streets. And Rick who gifted me with a pop up book about sharks, claimed that making some bad loans got him to that point. Yet, he also stated that for some, being homeless is a viable choice and was utilizing his experience to write a book. As the conversation continued, a group of young adults showed up with sandwiches to share. This seemed to be the nature of the day, where lots of people were coming out to give back.
We left Nikki, T dog and Rick and continued on and came across a woman literally wearing no pants, so luckily Lisa had brought some along. Along with her bag, I handed her a paper heart with the message that said “You Are Loved” and she smiled and said to me, so are you no matter the color you are. She seemed kind of confused to what city she was in, so I affirmed that she was in Los Angeles, and I got back into the car and we continued down Sunset and Hollywood Blvd. handing out bags through the window and saw a man with a man sitting on the sidewalk with his young daughter holding up a sign asking for food. We gave them some bags, and gifted her the shark book and a box that had been given to us by another homeless woman. We also had a guy turn down a bag and a blanket, but asked for a paper heart with a message.
With Denise having to head home, we brought her back to my house, and then headed back out to trying and find more people in need. We would take to La Brea Ave and met Pedro from Cuba, who had quite a monument of things parked in front of the wall that had been painted with the message “Life Is Beautiful, “ but it now read “Life is Auful” he claims to be the person who painted both and recycling was his job. I was trying to converse with him to get the story of the sign, but he wasn’t very able to communicate in an understandable speech, so we went on our way.
With a tip from a friend, we drove to Fairfax and Beverly, to an alleyway where a bunch of people was coexisting in tents. And as we were passing out the bags, a guy in a jeep was coming down the middle so I motioned to Lisa to move her car back so he could get through. But apparently she wasn’t moving fast enough for him and he became so aggressive in his driving that he ended up crashing into a gate. He got out of his car and started coming towards Lisa, so she started down towards where I was walking, yelled to get in the car and we got out of there as fast as we could.
Our last gift of the day was given to this guy Cody at Pan Pacific Park, which is located near the Grove. As he opened up his bag, I watched his eyes light up when he saw the gummy bears. So I grabbed a few more extras to give to him, and has he thanked us his somber face changed into a smile. Coming into our 5th hour of driving around, and not having any more luck of finding people to take the eleven bags we had left, we decided to save the bags and head home.
As we talked to the people today, we learned the different reasons for having to live on the streets. Some are there through bad circumstances, some by choice, and some have completely lost their way. Still even through their eyes of fear and pain, they have found the courage and strength to get through each new day.
And not all are there for a hand out, just voice to be heard and know that they matter. They are a face with a name, a sister, a brother, a mother, and even father.