South Bay Gives Back: Homeless Project
We are so excited to introduce you to Barry, who started this project to help Homeless members of our community by getting them necessary things to help get them through tough times. As you read through this article, you will see how incredibly passionate Barry is to helping people. There’s also ways you can get involved!
Tell us a little about you:
My wife, twin 13-year-old daughters myself have lived in El Segundo since 2003 and I’ve lived in Los Angeles since 1989 when I graduated from UCSB (Go Gauchos!). My family and I love the outdoors including Whitewater rafting, skiing, camping, etc. – I’ve been a Whitewater rafting guide on the Kern River since 1994 and we have a condo in Mammoth so my kids have grown up doing all sorts of outdoor activities.
I started my divorce mediation practice in 2003 in Manhattan Beach. It’s challenge work, but I find it very gratifying to get my clients through the divorce process in the most peaceful, affordable manner possible by helping them keep their focus on their children and their long-term interests.
Please tell us about your project:
Back in May 2020, I got several of my friends and colleagues throughout the South Bay to help put together 60 bags filled with food, bandannas, hand sanitizer and other items that we delivered to the homeless in San Pedro to help make life on the street a little easier. We had previously been serving the folks down San Pedro twice a year through a large organization, but that large organization didn’t feel comfortable doing the same work during COVID. This December, were hoping to increase that number to passing out 100 bags. About 50 to 60 of the bags will go to the folks in San Pedro. We’re hoping to provide the other 40 to 52 individuals and families throughout the South Bay to hand out to homeless people in their neighborhoods. Each individual/family could pick up 2 – 3 bags and then hand them out to folks that they see in their area on an ongoing basis. This way, we can help many more people and many more people can be involved in passing out the bags. Of course every situation is different, but my family and I have had some wonderful interactions with people when handing out the bags and stopping to have a conversation with them. Showing them that there are people out there that still care about them and treating them like a human being is just as important as the food and clothing or passing out.
Who are you supporting with this project?
Homeless folks throughout the South Bay, but especially a large group down in San Pedro.
What inspired you to do this project?
For the last 15 years my family & I were involved in a large organization that would give out duffel bags and backpacks filled with essential items twice a year. Due to COVID, that wasn’t possible this year so instead I connected up with some of my therapist friends back in May and we put together 60 bags of food and other items (bandanas, lip balm, etc.) to pass out in an area that has a lot of homeless individuals and families (we’ll be doing it again this December).
Much of my inspiration came from the way I was raised and my desire to raise my daughters the same way. I was raised in a strong Christian family that believed in helping others because it’s the most important thing you can do with your life (Faith in Action). Even though I grew up in a very upper class, white neighborhood in Northern California (much like PV) we were always having people over from the drug/alcohol center that my parents volunteered at or going to South San Jose to help families out, etc. so is just the way I was raised. Both my daughters have grown up having conversations with homeless folks since they were 4years old and it’s had a huge impact on their compassion and empathy for others – I think it’s a wonderful gift to give to our children (especially South Bay kids who have everything but often lack a sense of meaning and connection).
How can the community support your efforts?
There are three main ways to support this project:
Option 1 – Get involved by either making a donation here or working with your kids to make handwritten cards to include in the bags. This tutorial give some feedback on making the cards – https://www.thegivingspirit.org/friendshipcards
Option 2 – Join us to hand out bags to the homeless in San Pedro on the weekend of Dec. 12/13, updates here.
Option 3 – If we get enough donations, we can put together even more bags than we need for San Pedro. Then people that are interested could come to our house to pick up 2 – 3 bags to deliver to homeless folks in their own neighborhood. This way, people could take care of the homeless folks nearest to where they live and we would get bags out to many more people.
Since this is a new idea, I haven’t worked out all the details. However, I think we would probably just set up a table in our front yard one afternoon and then people could pick up a couple bags to take back to their neighborhood.
Anything else you would like us to include?
Based on the prevalence of homelessness, even in the South Bay, I think so many of us struggle with what we can do about it and how we can help without anything we give turning into alcohol/drug money. Giving out these bags provides at least some short-term help (and maybe more than short-term help with the knit hats, rain ponchos, etc. that we’ll be including in the bags this time) and even more importantly gives us the opportunity to show them some compassion. Plus, my family and I have gotten at least as much back from doing this as we’ve given – helping someone else is great for one’s mental health because it gets you outside yourself and your own needs and helps you feel empowered by helping someone else (which I think is even more important given all the negativity in our world right now).
Also, check out the other opportunities to Give Back!