Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2017 – Shining a Light in the Dark Los Angeles Streets

Name: Jorge Aguirre
From: Hawthorne, CA
Grade: College Sophmore
School: University of Southern California
Votes: 0

Volunteering has been something that I’ve always wanted to be a
part of and it’s something that has impacted my life greatly. My
volunteer efforts have been around the Downtown LA area because it is
known to be one of the areas with the highest population of homeless
people and it is where people need help the most. I chose it because
growing up, my mom would go to food shelters where we would get food
and we would go to other places where they would give out free
clothes for us. Coming from that background made me appreciate what
it’s like to come from the bottom and to be where I am today. I
have been going to those areas on National holidays like Labor Day,
Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas to give them necessities
like food or clothes. My responsibilities as a volunteer have been to
just interact with those people and get to know them and who they are
and ask them what they need. Often times, they don’t know what they
need or what they have so I would have to figure out what they have
or what they desperately need most. On days like Thanksgiving and
Christmas, we walk around and make sure everyone has not one, but two
plates of food and make sure they are warm during the winter time. My
biggest challenge would be dealing with people who are not mentally
stable or have been negatively impacted by drugs and getting them the
basic necessities. Another challenge is waking up and getting up on
those days because many would much rather stay in bed or lay on the
couch and watch tv. It’s all worth it when you see the smile on
someone’s face or when their so appreciative to receive a plate of
food. What fills my heart is knowing that these people are forgotten
and they are reminded that they are loved and that they matter. Doing
this has kept me grounded and is a constant reminded that I was once
in their shoes. It’s kept my humility in tact and has taught me a
great deal about perseverance. It has also taught me that at some
point in life, everyone needs help and everyone goes down but instead
of kicking those who are down, help them up and give them the
confidence and strength to keep moving forward. There are some things
that school just won’t teach you. Through volunteering, I have
learned so much more and those experiences and life lessons are ones
that I carry with me.

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