Every winter, the West LA National Guard Armory opens its doors to the homeless in order to protect them from the elements. It offers a place to stay overnight, a meal, and other services they might not regularly have access to, such as medical check ups. As it has done for many years, Brentwood School has partnered with the Winter Shelter this season, offering snacks on Tuesday nights to supplement the meal provided by the National Guard and First to Serve (the organization that operates the Winter Shelter program). It allows students to actively and directly serve those within the community, as well as feel a sense of ownership in the process. Students meet up at the Pool Patio beforehand, and then take a short trip down to the National Guard Armory (1300 Federal Ave.), where they start setting up for service.
As the Service Learning Liaison, I've really been impressed with our students. Though a plate of snacks isn't much, our students approach the work with care and diligence. When the Winter Shelter guests pick up their plates, the students greet them warmly and even develop relationships with them as they come back week after week. (One guest loves to come by and yell "Go Roadrunners!" as he leaves the table; he clearly did not see us win Extravaganza this year!) Perhaps the most important change, though, happens within the students themselves. One student commented that this was one of her favorite parts of her Brentwood experience, because it forces her outside of her own bubble and provides her with a broader perspective on her life.
We will continue to go to the Winter Shelter for the next couple of weeks; if you (or your child) is interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.