My Eyes Have Opened Too – Miriam Alexander

Miriam (back) supervises at Hope of the Valley

I was never able to go on AWB as a chanicha, so I wasn’t sure what to expect this year as a staff. The participants exceeded all my initial expectations. These teens are not just here to visit with friends; they are truly passionate and invested in the work we have done here in LA. Learning about the homeless in the U.S opened all of our eyes to an issue that is seldom discussed in schools. Walking through Skidrow exposed us to the harsh reality of homelessness and the lack of government support. However not all is lost–organizations such as PATH do incredible work in the fight to end homelessness. The participants on AWB LA cooked delicious holiday meals for the residents and learned about homelessness through first-hand experiences. The days spent at PATH were long but fulfilling. We will still be unpacking the experience for weeks to come.
After the heaviness of PATH, the participants and staff were in need for some retail therapy. We volunteered at three different Hope of the Valley locations, a thrift store committed to helping those in poverty with their low prices. Our tasks at Hope of the Valley included stocking shelves, collecting hangers, tagging items, etc. Even though the experience wasn’t as personal as our time at PATH, we felt gratified. The work we did helped the stores’ employees and thus the organization as a whole.

After, we volunteered at Pico-Union, an inter-faith community center not so far from skid row. We went around the neighborhood planting trees along the3 sidewalk in an attempt to beautify the neighborhood. Afterwards, Jorge, the groundskeeper at Pico-Union explained to us how we inspire him, and that our work around the neighborhood would go to inspire local residents to be part of the community.
At the end of the day I felt energized and excited to continue the journey with the whole AWB team!

~ Miriam Alexander is from Ann Arbor, Michigan and attends the University of Michigan