When the seven year old girl at Kicks for Kids giggles and smiles as she attempts to defeat an LA Galaxy soccer player, or when the mountains of bins filled with cereal, canned goods, and home essentials pile at the end of the assembly line at LA Food Bank, or when a third-grader at 32nd Street Elementary School sighs that they finally “get it” after working strenuously to solve a fraction problem, or when the involved high schooler applying for college while taking five AP classes laughs and focuses hard on the de-stressing game of monopoly, or when the small girl who doesn’t have a permanent home plays with glitter like it’s the greatest toy in the world and acts like a child again for the moment, or when misshapen fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to the dumpster of a local grocery store transform into healthy meals for underprivileged groups, I understand why I do service with Helenes.
We serve to better our people who make up our Los Angeles community. I find that for me and many other Helenes, service is about escaping your hectic life of trivial problems in order to provide the best service possible for people who are going through the hardest moments of their lives. And these difficult moments they’re experiencing aren’t happening because they’re lazy or they don’t care about their well-being as some people may think. People suffer because we as a community allow them to suffer by not giving them a way to help themselves. The problems they face thus become our problems as well because these people are as part of the Los Angeles community as we are.
As members of this community, I take pride in Helenes’ capacity to take time out of their days and sacrifice a couple of hours of their days to helping others. By participating in the betterment of other people’s lives, Helenes successfully perform their civic duty to the society we are a part of and I’m ever so grateful and content to see that so many girls understand the importance of their service.
Seeing faces light up with gratitude or happiness for just a moment is worth the time spent serving and away from the anxieties of college. I remember while serving refried beans at Downtown Women’s Center a woman consistently kept thanking us and remarking with utter sincerity, “You have no idea what this means to us.” That’s when it hit me. Harder than ever before. Any small effort you can put in matters and seeing that effect first-hand makes it all the more impactful. The chance to get to meet her in person is what makes service with Helenes so special. You have the opportunity to meet the people you’re helping and humanize the larger issues at hand. You have the opportunity to make someone feel like a human being worthy of attention, care, and love. And that’s what service Helenes has given me: the chance to meet these peoples and spread Helenes love everywhere I go.