Less than a week after flying home from Chicago after the end of my first year in college, I was sleeping on the floor at a church in Sacramento. It was perfect preparation for what will be a summer of sleeping on the dusty floor in the pigeon-ridden attic of a Methodist church in the Vermont Square neighborhood of south Los Angeles.
I will be a chef for more than 200 high school students serving this community over the next six weeks. I struggled with the decision to turn down journalism internships for this opportunity, but I felt called to offer myself to this non-profit service organization made a significant impact on my life during my high school years.
The theme of this program is “Grow.” The staff here and I have learned many things since our short training in Sacramento two weeks ago and I expect the diverse community of Vermont Square will offer countless opportunities for growth in the coming weeks. We are already halfway through our first week of hosting campers and it is remarkable to see the unique transformations in the youth from the first day they arrive at their worksites, to when they distribute lunches on Skid Row, to the time when they pile in their minivans and return to the comfort of their homes.