An update from the Community Service California gang!
The Westcoast Blogger
We arrived in Los Angeles last Tuesday and, after a night of settling into our new digs in the UCLA residence, we jumped right into our service at the Boys and Girls Club. Located only a few blocks from the promenade in Santa Monica, the Boys and Girls Club serves as a drop-in center for approximately 500 children each day in the summer. Over the course of our four days in the club, we developed close relationships with many of the kids there. Marci, Jordan, Leah, and Alyssa fell in love with the Arts and Crafts center, helping young girls with different projects like making bracelets, drawing pictures, and even running a spa day. It was truly a warm atmosphere and Tiffany, the Arts and Crafts staff member, very much appreciated the extra help. Alex, Mark, Jake, and Bryan really got involved with the outdoor games, including whiffle ball, dog-catcher, knockout, and handball. The kids got competitive, and so did our tour members! War-Ball, an intense variation of dodge ball and the most popular game at the club, saw Kyle K. and Matt in attendance every time it was announced over the loudspeaker. Skylar, Kyle C., and Miles excelled in the games room, playing pool, ping-pong, and foose-ball with the kids. Natalie, Katie, Julie, and Nicole’s company was much sought after and they were constantly surrounded by a group of little girls. Similarly, James immediately attracted a posse of energetic boys and spent entire days wrestling, playing hide-and-seek, and generally having a fantastic time.
On the final day of volunteering, the staff of the Boys and Girls Club gave us hot pink t-shirts to thank us for making such meaningful connections with the club members. We were reminded of the enormous impact that we can have on children when one of the staff members played a very moving song that was written and recorded by one of the kids at the club. After having such an incredible experience, we were excited to give back to the Club by raising money by holding an “Apprentice-style” Bake Sale on the streets of Santa Monica. In only a few hours, the groups managed to raise an impressive $500 in donations!
Our time in L.A. has been much more than all work. We’ve had the opportunity to take advantage of the facilities at UCLA at the end of each day, relaxing by the pool and learning the ins-and-outs of water polo from Kyle K. The group also participated in a video scavenger hunt at Hermosa Beach, a highlight being Matt serenading the clerk at the 7-11 with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” . . . definitely a Grammy-worthy performance! We also spent time in the Los Angeles area, scoping out Bel Air and Beverly Hills! When visiting Hollywood, groups went out for sushi and “the best Mexican food in L.A.” then matched handprints with celebrities.
Marci and Leah loved the Walk of Fame and got pictures with all of the Disney characters. The only thing lacking from the experience was an authentic celebrity sighting — Julie is keeping her fingers crossed that we’ll run into someone famous before the end of the week. With so little time left on our trip, the next few days are packed with activities, including visits to Venice Beach, and Universal Studios. It will be difficult to say goodbye to new friends, but we’re looking forward to sharing our pictures, stories, and memories with everyone back home, too . . . and it helps that there’s already a reunion in the works! See you in a few days!
Anna and the California Community Service Crew