Tonight, I had the privilege of joining the Monday Night Mission in shaking hands with and handing out meals to the residents of Skid Row. Mel’s Mission is a unique organization, focused on individual assistance. Each person is welcomed by a row of greeters and before a meal is served, their name is shouted with joy by a group forming a human shield for security purposes around food and other volunteers. I was struck by the individual humanity of each person I met – tall, short, old, straight, gay, trans, young, so so many elderly people on Skid Row from all races – Chinese, Latino, African-American… There were no children but other volunteers remarked that would not be an uncommon sighting. In the beginning, I would hold their hands and introduce myself and try to say something nice but towards the end I changed the line to “No, thank you for joining us.” We forget how lucky we are. How much dignity is required to ask for help. There were grown men in tears talking about deaths of their wives, such polite proud boys twice my height… Every single Los Angeles politician should be required to stand in that line. There is no excuse for any California government official for not visiting the residents of Skid Row. On Saturday, November 5 at 4:00 p.m. on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, Angelenos will gather to march for Proposition HHH which will create 10,000 homes for the homeless in the City of Angeles. One in three homeless persons in LA is a woman. 50% of women on Skid Row are raped in their first year. 1/3 of homeless women in Los Angeles shelters are sexually assaulted. We must do more to serve our city’s most vulnerable. Human dignity should not be so hard to protect.
I was also struck by the love young Angelenos showed for their brothers and sisters on Skid Row.