A few weeks ago I volunteered to do some homeless outreach with the Fred Jordan Mission in Skid Row. I had never been to Skid Row before so I had no idea what to expect. As I approached the destination, I accidentally made a wrong turn on a one-way street. The gust of stale urine that blew through my open windows shocked me at first, but it was the scene I saw beyond my windshield that deflated my heart.
I saw human beings literally rotting away on the trash infested sidewalks. I saw a man with scabs and sores all over his face and another with no legs. A barely clothed woman jumped in front of my car with disheveled hair, a snot encrusted nose and an absent stare. There was a row of people sprawled on the pavement in broken wheelchairs, sleeping bags, makeshift cardboard homes, and other unconventional materials. The part that really messed with me was the fact that I was less than 4 blocks from one of my favorite areas, Little Tokyo. It was as if I had warped into a secret underground city of sadness—except, it wasn’t underground, it was right next to very zoot areas of Los Angeles.
“In one quarter of a mile, turn left onto East 5th Street.”
Siri’s abrupt voice interrupted the train my mind had wandered on and helped me zoom back out. I arrived at the mission, found parking and sat in my car for a few moments to process what I had just seen. I wasn’t prepared to walk out into the streets and to be perfectly honest, I was ashamed. Here I was volunteering to feed the homeless, mostly as an act of goodwill, but also to feel good about doing something nice. I was so cavalier in the way I added it as a task to check off a list:
Breakfast with roommates (check)
Volunteer in Skid Row (check)
Buy nail polish for sleep over (check)
Get “Searching For Sugarman from the Redbox” (check)
Hang out with Tracy (check)
I also felt so ashamed at how dramatic I tended to be about my many “problems” and the fits I’ve had when life wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to. The first five seconds in the neighborhood gave me a robust reality check. It was a loud slap in the face to remind me that in the grand scheme of things, I have more than enough to be thankful for. After a few more moments of thought, I was able to correct my heart and get into the right mindset for service. I was still nervous, but definitely excited. I know it may sound a little hippy-dippy, but I truly believe LOVE is the solution for all the problems in the world and I was excited to inject as much love as I could into the people and problems I crossed paths with in the neighborhood.
We convened at the mission, learned a little about the area and then left in groups to invite people to a BBQ. It was a surprisingly warm day so we all grabbed a few water bottles to drink and went on our way. I think most of us first-timers were really tense, so we just stuck to handing out fliers while the more experienced group members chatted it up. We crossed paths with a diverse group of people, many of which asked for our water. Dan, our group leader and frequent volunteer to the mission, told us about the water scarcity in the area and we all felt so bad for not grabbing more. We met one young lady named Chocolate as she was waking up. She saw us pass and hollered a raspy, “Water!” I handed her the other half of my bottle and she guzzled it down within seconds. Even after she finished, her thirst was not satiated and unfortunately by that time, it was the last bottle in our group. She then erupted into a violent cough and reached out her hand in gratitude. I felt conflicted. Chocolate smelled like urine, she had a wretched cough and her clothes were filthy. Then immediately, I felt ashamed, as I did in the car, and extended my hand into a hug. “Thank you, thank you” she said. Her thank you broke me and I turned away in tears.
As we got more acquainted with the surroundings, the brief interactions turned into exchanges and exchanges into longer conversations. Although we were there to feed them, it was a very balanced exchange; they were expanding my view of the human condition and challenging my capacity to truly empathize and exercise compassion.
Since that first experience, I’ve wanted to go back. About a week ago, I heard that some from The Donuts wanted to do a kindness flashmob for the homeless. My thoughts immediately landed on Skid Row and Chocolate. After a few email exchanges and brainstorms, I’m very excited to announce that The Donuts will be hitting the streets this Memorial Day to pass out water and hang out with the people who live in Skid Row. I know the problem of homelessness is complex, and passing out water may seem like such a small, uninspired gesture, but if there’s anything I took away from my first experience, it’s that every bit counts. Every bottle, every smile, every moment that challenges us to step outside of our comfort zones for another human being counts. So, I challenge you good readers out in the blogosphere to make your Memorial Day count and join us!
We will be meeting in the Skid Row area on the corner of E. 5th St. and Towne Ave. at 10:00 AM (event details). If you’re interested in coming out, please bring a box (or more) of water. Feel free to purchase the water or fill reusable water bottles you may have laying around your home. Bring whatever you can—whether it’s a single bottle, yourself, or your time! We hope you can join us as we connect not only with each other through service, but with the community we’d like to share a little love and hope with. I hope to see you out there!
"Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land; so the little minutes, humble though they be, make the might ages of eternity." - Mrs. Julia A. Fletcher
What a weekend.
When we came together over a year ago, this past weekend was exactly the type of community gathering we hoped to create. Art, music, good vibes, and positive people all coming together in one space… it really is an unbelievable feeling when you set an intention and achieve it. Whether it’s personal goals or work quotas, we hope you can identify with what we’re feeling right now. Now, as you reach milestones and see what you’re made of, new visions and endeavors arise. "Every idea needs a version 1". Through this beta period, we’ve tried, experienced, reflected, and grown. Now we’re ready to build The Donuts 2.0, we’re ready to do work!
Whether it’s a food drive, a community function, a flash mob, a camp for empowering teens, a concept video, or fundraising for a cause, we want to get things done. We want to do it with heart, we want to do it with a purpose, and we want to leave a positive impact. If you’re down with that, then let’s do this together!
Here’s our latest attempt at describing who we are:
The efforts of one person can be great, but the impact of a community striving to create positive change is limitless. We are committed to connecting people who want to create that change and make the world a better place. We’re The Donuts, and it’s nice to meet you. The Donuts are a collective of folks from different cultures and backgrounds; teachers, DJs, dancers, emcees, photographers, designers, social workers, and much more.
We aspire to:
-Bring people together through events and initiatives that serve a direct cause, raise awareness, and spark meaningful dialogue.
-Provide a platform for people with different talents and ideas to come together and express themselves.
-Inspire others to take action and make positive change in their communities.
Empowered people accomplish great things. This is what we’re about, and we welcome Donuts of all flavors, shapes, & sizes. Like your local donut shop on the corner, our door is always open.
Eh? If you feel us, holler! We’ll keep you posted on what we’re up to this summer. In the meantime, enjoy these photos and relive The Brewery with us. Part of the weekend never dies.
Here are a few photos from the weekend, view the full album HERE.
wouldn’t have been the same without her muses this weekend. more photos coming soon!
It’s Monday morning, and as I sit here with my morning coffee trying to get the day started, all I can think about is how much I miss the Brewery, the people, and all the positive energy. Some real amazingness went down this weekend… still trying to find the words! Nevertheless, event recap coming soon. Stay tuned friends <3
It’s been a little while since we last posted, we have been doing some behind-the-scenes ground work for our community and future projects. We want to make sure our vision is clear before we embark on this journey, and want to be able to share that with all of you. We were very happy with how our first year of events went, and now it’s time to keep our feet moving!
As we briefly mentioned before, we are super excited for our next event this weekend at the LA Brewery Art Walk. The bi-annual LA Art Walk at The Brewery in downtown hosts over 100 art, music, and tech showcases at the world’s largest artist-in-residence complex. Centered around the infamous Brewery formerly owned by Pabst, the two-day event will bring in thousands of people to enjoy the arts, food, drinks, and good vibes.
We have a bunch of great artists coming out to showcase their work this weekend, including graphic designers, photographers, DJ’s, pop-up vendors, and a live band.
There is also some great news we would like to share with you about the future of The Donuts, so come join us as we create a space for great people in our community to share their arts!
Check out full event info and artist lineup HERE.
… and as always, free donuts :)
Man, it’s been a nice two months of reflection since the 1-year event at Proof. Slow and steady has been our motto, mainly because we knew from the beginning it’d be a learning process for us as individuals to figure out how to balance our own lives, responsibilities, and career aspirations with this desire to serve our community together. We apologize for the lack of consistency, but this being a not-for-profit endeavor we hope you understand Donuts gotta eat too!
Lots of things have been going on behind the scenes, and we have some really exciting news to share! Our next community gathering is going down at the BREWERY ART WALK in LA, Saturday April 27 & Sunday April 28.
This once Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery is now a live/work space for artists. Twice a year they open up the area for an artwalk, and we’re honored by the opportunity to participate! Big ups to Suey Creative for hosting us. Learn more about the LA Brewery!
Food, drinks, music, art, community. More details TBA. Save the date!
The power of community.
Often times this is overlooked and underrated.
Many of us shared some truly special moments in our youth; experiences that have undoubtedly shaped us into who we are today. Those sparks of positivity & love, whether from rooming with best friends, jumping into a dance circle, or heart to hearts at a music festival, may seem like no big deal, but we’d like to take a minute to remember how uniquely blessed we all are. While it may seem like everyone’s got their share of blessings, take a step outside of your comfort zone and you’ll see how unique choosing what outfit to wear to Coachella is (don’t worry, we’ve all done it).
Now, as we get older our individual paths begin to gain more traction. Those of us reading this are still fairly young, but can we agree that as life progresses we’re feeling this pressure more and more? It’s this pressure from the career grind, from increases in responsibility… pressure sometimes from our parents, most of the time from ourselves… that causes us to drive our focus inwards, making opportunities to connect with one another become few and far between. Can you see it? Do you feel it? Getting busier and busier, and seeing less and less of each other as we approach our late 20’s and early 30’s? Is that just the reality of life? WE SAY NAY!!!
It’s the mission of The Donuts to provide spaces for folks to come together and re-up on each other’s positive energy. It’s also to one day mobilize this community to do great work in the world. While the platform in which this work will take shape is still unknown, we will strive to continue to create experiences that keep the conversation going and feeling alive.
We believe in the power of this community. We believe in what we can achieve, together.(btw it’s Women’s History Month!)
We are looking for feedback and ideas from YOU! What would you like to see more of? What would you like to experience? We’d LOVE to hear from you.
E-mail us firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet us @gotdonuts, or drop us a line on Facebook.com/TheDonutsPage <3