Posts Tagged ‘SKid Row’

Books for People—Turning Your Castoffs into Help for Homeless Kids

A brightly painted van just pulled away from my house. I had put out several cartons of books for them to pick up. When we moved across the country, I got very into purging and simplifying…just not in time before the moving vans came, so we moved a ton of stuff we should have shed before the westward trek. I had, throughout my life to this point, been loathe to ever part with a book. Textbooks I skillfully avoided reading throughout college, novels that weren’t particularly good but I felt it my duty to finish (I can’t leave a book unread once I start…it’s a flaw), design tomes that once graced coffee tables but are now well behind the curve of current décor, languages and hobbies I thought would be kicky to learn but never did–and no longer desire to learn…all of them went from shelf to shelf, apartment to house, box to unpacked box. In the glacially slow unearthing of the space in our garage, we dive into new stacks of boxes and cartons each weekend and inevitably end up with lots of charitable donations.

I won’t give to Salvation Army for a host of reasons, and there are other charities that take donations of used goods, but I feel have outgrown their direct usefulness to the communities they intend to serve…so I was pleased to discover Books for People. This non-profit comes to Los Angeles area homes to pick up boxes of books, CDs, and DVDs and distributes them or sells them to raise funds for charities serving homeless youth in Los Angeles. Donations they are not able to sell for charity are re-donated to local libraries, so none of it ends up in landfills. By donating to them, you are re-booking AND being green–and I love that. The current charity recipient of their fundraising/bookraising efforts is S.A.Y. Yes! Center for Youth Development, providing tutoring, nutritious meals, recreation, and support for the roughly 300 kids living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. That is a huge commitment, filling a huge need–believe me, Skid Row kids need any leg up this world can provide–it is a hellacious place to be at any age.

Support what Books for People is up to. If you’re in the area, schedule a pick up here (it was the easiest thing to do, and everyone I dealt with via email, a confirmation call, and the drive who just left, was exceptionally professional and grateful).

Chrysalis: Changing Lives Through Jobs

What seems like a million years ago, when I was living in Los Angeles the last go ’round, I spent a few weeks one summer living on Skid Row, working/volunteering with the homeless and several advocacy organizations. It was easily one of the most intense times of my life, living “on the nickel” (5th Street in Downtown LA–at the time the most violent crime-ridden street in the nation, with the worst crack cocaine problem in the world), and I, at least, had the escape option of going home. The violence, helplessness, and hopelessness was staggering (as were the flashes of inspiration and grace). While the living conditions have improved slightly (still pretty tough sleeping on the streets downtown) and crack has subsided somewhat in its rolling tide…it still sucks to be homeless. It always will.

Chrysalis is a non-profit based on Skid Row, working to “creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find and retain employment.” Theirs is a nationally recognized model in the fight against poverty and homelessness, and in their three centers (also in Santa Monica and Pacoima), they train clients how to enter or re-enter the job market. In 2010, 400 clients per day received services from Chrysalis, and just shy of 600 volunteers gave 18,000 hours, helping generate 218,000 hours of employment. I’ll always have a connection to Skid Row from my intimate, sometimes terrifying experiences there–I hope, even without taking up residence in a mission or “SRO Hotel” (often called Welfare Hotels), you’ll see how you are connected as well, and consider supporting the diligent work of Chrysalis with financial contributions, or your valuable volunteer time.