Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Los Angeles Mission. Last year, 6,648 people gave 22,741 hours to the Mission. Our volunteers did everything from serving meals to painting hallways. Event volunteers helped wrap Christmas presents and fill Easter baskets. Still others handed out those gifts and baskets at events.
Some creative volunteers decorated inspirational bulletin boards. Still other experienced volunteers quietly worked one on one to improve students’ reading skills. We had fit volunteers lead exercise classes. While some other talented volunteers gave haircuts, and did makeup for women at the Anne Douglas Center.
The selfless donation of time is actually valuable for a nonprofit. The worth of volunteer hours represents literally billions of dollars in value to California nonprofits. The donation of people’s precious time exponentially expands our ability to assist those who need help the most. Added to donations of much-needed finances, food and clothing, the giving of time is essential to continuing the work we do every day at the Mission.
Our volunteers come from all walks of life. Those who give their time to the Mission are a real reflection of L.A.’s rich diversity. Millionaire businessmen serve next to volunteers who were once homeless themselves. Many Mission program graduates can be relied upon to return to give back. They understand all too well what it is like to live on Skid Row. So they come back to help offer encouragement in any way they can.
We are thrilled to be able to say that we have everyone from Hollywood stars to college students come down to serve others. We especially appreciate the mindset of college kids looking for a spring break opportunity to give back to others instead of going “wild” on some beach.
It is obvious that Hollywood heavyweights have many options other than serving the homeless. Yet their continued participation helps us to attract media interest at our special events. Still other Hollywood volunteers prefer to remain anonymous by serving without the press on non-event days.
While the public may be aware of the big events we put on four times a year, the Mission is busy here on Skid Row everyday. Many famous faces show up at those events to help serve a meal, hand out gifts or new shoes, and wash the feet of the homeless. But our unsung volunteers are here every day. Some people have been coming down regularly for decades. Just like some companies have been donating for many years.
I truly believe that one significant reason a person decides to change their life is because someone has shown that they really do believe in them. Often renewal begins because of love and concern demonstrated by a stranger. It has been said that true compassion is helping someone who has no way of repaying their consideration.
Our volunteers give out of the goodness of their hearts; compelled by faith or something in them that just wants to be of service to others. People who freely give of their time, talents and treasure do so in the hope of making some small difference in the lives of others. What they may not realize is that a little action can often make a huge difference in the life of another person.
National Volunteer Week and Volunteer Appreciation Month are great reminders of the generous outpouring of Americans who desire to help those in need of human kindness. But a yearly remembrance of the many contributions of volunteers is not enough of a thank you. At the Los Angeles Mission, there is not a day that goes by that we don’t appreciate our volunteers.
But the real secret of volunteering is this. It is what our volunteers consistently say: that they receive much more than they give. That they are rewarded each and every time they come down to the Mission. That helping another person just makes their lives better. They thank us for letting them help out in the work we do.
Do you want to help? We have many different ways you can: lots of opportunities. The first step is to attend a volunteer orientation. Those meetings take place on the first Saturday of every month. You can join us May 2nd by registering on line at https://losangelesmission.org/act/volunteer/volunteer-opportunity/.
Saying a truly heartfelt thank you to everyone who has helped out at the Los Angeles Mission feels inadequate. But believe me when I say that we couldn’t do anything without the participation of our tremendously talented and big-hearted volunteers.
A sincere thank you is to the best way to express our gratitude. So, please accept our thank you for helping. And join us. You won’t regret it.