The first thing that comes to mind when I think about our environment are the times and places I feel most connected to nature during a busy, urban life in LA. These instances have mostly been during hikes, where the air feels crisper and easier to breathe, and I can see above the layer of smog. A city that can feel so hectic and hurried suddenly feels small and manageable.
Every other Friday, my fellow classroom staff and I have started taking our kids out on hikes. Most of our students flourish, running ahead and exploring in ways we don’t always see in the classroom. One student who refused to go on any field trips earlier this year has been coming hiking with us, and quickly emerged as a leader, helping the other kids figure out which rocks to step on when crossing a stream. We’ve seen peers who often struggle with friendships connect over finding a salamander or sharing a good walking stick. A student who always finds a reason to be negative can’t help but smile as we tromp through the forest. Another splashed around in the creek, and exclaimed that he “loves nature water!”
There’s this strange feeling of familiarity I feel when I recognize the homeless people in Hollywood. Or the musicians that play their guitar and sing their songs. It’s the air of desperation in search of dreams that may never come true. I see it all on their face. An expression I know all too well. Hopefully hopeless. Chasing a dream deferred and being side tracked by life’s tackles. They hold on. They are hopeful. They believe that by risking their life and jeopardizing their health. Each one of them having a story.
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee's Urban Service Programs. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service.