A Place Called Home
On Thanksgiving of 2017, my dear friend Libby invited me to volunteer at A Place Called Home where we fed over 800 families in the South Los Angeles area. Little did I know that this experience would impact my life in a huge way. It was so rewarding to spend this day in service of those less fortunate. There is no better way to feel such gratitude for life and all that we have than to share it with others. This experience was definitely a catalyst for my personal growth over the next year. My husband and I traveled to several countries where we experienced many different races, religions and cultures. What I took away from our travels was is that being of service is what brings us closer to God....or Truth...or Love....or whatever you want to call it. Pure joy and happiness.
In November of 2018, we returned to A Place Called Home to serve the community Thanksgiving dinner once again. This time, bringing my good friend Connie along. She had spent three weeks in July teaching meditation to kids at a summer camp in Jamaica. Her service was so inspiring to me that I made a decision that I would join her the following year. Our world travels had infused us with a sense of purpose found in service to others. One person helping another brings about a psychic change and we had both changed drastically-and that was just the beginning.
After Thanksgiving dinner 2017, we decided that we could be of service to this community in a much bigger way. Both of us had been on a healing journey through yoga, meditation and self awareness for a short time and felt strongly that if young children were given these tools, the world would be a much better place - And we could start with A Place Called Home. The members of APCH live in an area that has been severely traumatized by gang violence, crime and unnecessary homicides. We all know that this type of generational trauma and these risk factors are associated with poor life outcomes. Unfortunately, suppression (Policing, incarceration and legislation) has proven to be largely ineffective. It only makes sense to make PREVENTION a priority. This is what we propose with yoga, meditation and mindfulness. These practices not only teach them body/mind awareness, inner peace, focus, connecting and relating, balance and relaxing BUT it also exposes them to a whole new world outside of South Los Angeles.
I reached out to the Director of Volunteer services and expressed an interest in bringing a program of mindfulness to the members at APCH. At that time, they did not have an opportunity for a new program but welcomed us to participate as volunteers and infuse our teachings wherever possible. We jumped at the opportunity and in January of 2018 we began our journey at APCH.
We committed to two hours of service every Monday afternoon. The first hour we helped out in the flower arranging class and the second hour they gave us the dance studio during the kids free hour. We use this free time to rally up as many kids as we can to teach them the lessons of getting in The Zone. During this time, the kids have a choice to play outside, participate in sports, work on homework or to just hang out. Little by little our class grew as the word got out about our yoga and meditation class. In a few short weeks, we had 8-12 members who were consistently showing up to practice with us. Although it is mostly girls that practice, we do have some boys who occasionally show up. As the summertime approached, we were sad to part ways with all of the new friends we had made during the year. We said our goodbyes and went on to spend three weeks of July in Treasure Beach, Jamaica teaching kids yoga and meditation on the other side of the country.
As the fall semester just began, we are so excited to be back to our Monday home-A Place Called Home. No matter how bad I may feel Monday's leading up to heading to APCH, when I arrive and see all of our little yogi's-every negative emotion is washed away and I am left feeling extremely overjoyed and full of love. Really, isn't that what it is all about? Love and community!!! We are creating our army with soldiers of love and arming them with the power of presence.