This is as true for a workplace, hospital or school campus as it is for an individual. Our basic need for safety must be met in order to live happy and productive lives. So, what happens when necessities like food and shelter are unavailable to protect and sustain us each day?
Ask the 50,000+ homeless in Los Angeles.
According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, in 2019, approximately 50,000 to 60,000 persons may be found homeless on any given night in LA County. More than 44,000 of LA’s homeless are currently on the streets. Most are from the Los Angeles area and stay near the communities from which they came.
Learning about these staggering statistics in our community, we wanted to help.
For ADVANTIDGE’s Team Building day, we decided to carry our dedication to safety and security to those experiencing homelessness. Through PATH LA, our team prepared a home cooked meal for 30 veterans currently living without a permanent place to call home.
We wanted to make a meal that these men would love, something from the heart.
One by one the men lined up for our fresh beef and vegetarian tacos. And one by one faces lit up when they saw the spread of delicious food. Fresh fruit, authentic street corn, homemade salsas, and all the accouterments of a true Mexican feast adorned the buffet. And they enjoyed every bite.
Our Marketing Coordinator, Amanda Reta shared her experience:
“I loved being able to prepare something thoughtful to show these men who have served our country that they matter. To see them enjoying a meal and their faces softening, after so much hardship, made me feel like we were really being of service.”
After serving all 30 men plates full of food, we joined them in the dining room. Our Business Leader, Lawrence Grafstein, shared:
“The best part was sitting down with the vets, hearing their personal stories, and hearing their genuine appreciation for the meal. Some of them were so enthusiastic about the food… it made me feel proud.”
The stories we heard were powerful. Some heartbreaking, some triumphant, and some very relatable.
For Lawrence, he connected with a young man who shared his passion for creativity and positivity:
“A vet shared that mental illness is why he left the military which led to losing his girlfriend, moving out of his parents’ house, and eventually his hometown. When he came to LA, he discovered poetry and music as creative outlets. He shared his notebook with positive messages that keep himself going and I could see the pride in his work. I share a connection to his positive thinking and left feeling hopeful he will find greater stability by maintaining these healthy habits.”
For our Accounting Specialist, Monica Russell, she identified with reliance fundamental things many of us take for granted:
“The veteran I spoke with was headed to the DMV after lunch to take his driver’s test. He had not had a car or license for five years. That hit home with me because it made me feel so appreciative of what I have and reminded me not to take things for granted.”
We ended our time at PATH LA, wishing the men well and packaging up the remaining food for them to enjoy for leftovers. On a very simple level, for one afternoon, we were able to see the power of security in its most basic form: security of home and shelter, the security of a warm meal, and the safety that comes with knowing that people care.