UNITED STATES: Youth from Salesian Parish Volunteer to Feed Homeless Each Weekend
(MissionNewswire) Youth from the “Dance with Me” Zumba group at the Salesian-run St. Dominic Savio parish in Bellflower, California have made it their mission to help feed as many homeless individuals as possible in Los Angeles County. The group meets each weekend beginning their day at 8 a.m. in front of the church to put together a complete meal to feed at least 35-40 homeless individuals. During the weekend, the group will typically reach six to seven communities of homeless people.
In November 2015, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released their Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, which noted that there are 115,738 homeless in California, higher than that of the previous year and more than several states combined. In the same year, a partial assessment of the County of Los Angeles estimated more than 40,000 homeless within that region.
Youth have met several homeless individuals during the volunteer weekends and have come to learn their stories. Andrew lives on the streets repairing bicycles to earn a meager living. Jimmy has been unemployed for six months and homeless as a result. Nieshell has been living on the streets for more than eight years due to a substance addiction. Another man was left homeless after losing his Louisiana diner during hurricane Katrina in 2005. Youth have not only fed the homeless but have given them a voice, learned their stories, and provided compassion and hope during a challenging time.
“It’s really wonderful to see so many youth focused and happy to be giving to others in need,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth are learning important lessons through their volunteer work. They are working as a team and showing compassion for those that are less fortunate. They are also taking action, helping to improve their own communities. Nutrition is an important part of proper health and also provides dignity to those who often live unnoticed in our society.”
Working in 132 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries have created a vast network of primary, secondary, vocational and technical schools serving poor youth. With a focus on education and workforce development, Salesians worldwide provide disadvantaged youth valuable resources to help them find livable wage employment to break the cycle of poverty and lead meaningful and productive lives.
Functioning side by side with Salesian schools, youth clubs offer young people opportunities for engaging in constructive activities during their leisure time. Through organized programs which often include sports and music, youth are taught teamwork and social skills while gaining opportunities for personal growth. Some youth clubs also offer small medical clinics and, where needed, lunch programs to protect children from malnutrition. Youth programs also offer valuable volunteer opportunities for youth to have a chance to engage with others and support their own communities.
ANS – United States – Change is only possible with adequate support
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress