A Different Night

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Sol and I at Monday Night Mission in DTLA

Recently I was lucky to spend a few days in Los Angeles, my former city many years ago.  This was a very different trip, at a different time in my life.  I was able to team up with my partner Sol Garcia of Project X Impact in her home town, we are normally working in places like Pokot Kenya.  Sol has been volunteering with an interesting group led by one man who had an idea to help.  Mel Tillekeratne saw an opportunity to reach out into a community of people that most Los Angelians don’t want to really see, the people on Skid Row.  For anyone that has spent much time living in LA, you will have heard of Skid Row, every city has their own version, here in Vancouver we have the DTES (Down Town East Side).  Mel saw the need and the method as simple as that, they need food and clothing, and so we will bring it.  He began Monday Night Mission and it has now evolved into 4 nights a week where anyone that wants to meets up at the Burger King on Cesar Chavez Blvd in DTLA where they will work together making sandwiches.  Then a small convoy of cars takes the sandwiches along with some hot donated food, toiletries and sometimes clothing to distribute to those that want it. This is done in an orderly fashion, as many as 250 people come and line up to hear their name called out and recieve some food. 

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Mel Tillekeratne with Sol

Mel ensures the safety as much as possible of those that come to volunteer as well as the local participants, but it is a lively and sometimes unpredictable group that live within the confines of this unseen area of LA.  He is one of the most sincerely dedicated individuals that I have witnessed.  His ability to both create parameters to work within the situation is challenging, but he also offers comfort to individuals that are distressed.  More often than not, it is the capacity to simply be present, show that there is value in just that, basic human connection and caring.  Please visit thier Facebook Page and show support, and if you live in LA, go out one night for a few hours to 700 West Cesar e Chavez Ave to the Burger King at 7.30, it could create something big in you too!

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