I personally cannot take all the credit for creating this group/club which I have grown to love. The idea came from a fellow peer who is at school in Thailand. I assumed control of what was just a school club that informed other students about the poverty levels in our city. When hearing the statistics, my emotions, as long with a few others, took the best of me. We decided that we must do something about it. We knew that we couldn't eliminate the poverty levels in Long Beach all in one year, but at the same time, we felt passionate that we could make a difference, no matter how small or how much recognition we, ourselves got.
My friend who went to Thailand had already had a relationship with the people from a women and children's shelter in downtown Long Beach called the Lydia House, so my friends and I decided to start going there on a weekly basis to tutor, help with their homework, and to just create a bond with the kids who had no choice in how their lives were.
The first time I went to the Lydia House I was with one other volunteer I had never met before. The experience was great, but a little overwhelming. The children there were excited to have someone older, in fact to have anyone there, just for them; to play with, to talk to, to socialize with. The ages ranging from newborn to 15, and about 20 kids running around, I felt that they needed others.
In time, I ended up convincing a good 15 students in going, about five or six going to the shelter every week. We soon noticed that these kids didn't deserve the conditions in which they lived. Their backyard area was dirt and rock, literally, although they did have a slide and jungle gym. There was no vegetation, and the toys were and still are falling apart. So we decided to "rennovate" the outside area as best as we could. We had no money, all we had was our passion to turn nothing into something.
So far we have accomplished getting trees and flowers planted, along with plants that they can pick their own fruit and vegetables. The children, and even the parents, who had to get used to us, which is understandable, began to come outside, taking turns to water and care for the plants, excited that we were actually accomplishing something. We are still in the process of finishing a 40 foot long planter for sunflowers and a sandbox for the kids to play in but we do not have that kind of money. As teenagers, some who have jobs, have to go to summer school, or don't do wither, we have little money. But, we do what we can, using our own personal funds, or writing to companies for any type of donations or discounts. We are determined to turn the Lydia Houses backyard into a place where the parents and children feel hope and support bceause there are people who want to help and be a part of something that does.
Our future plans, once we have the planter and sandbox done is to get rid of all the rubble, trash, and buildup, get it clean. Then we want to make a plot just for "food plants" as the kids call them, we want to get an area for grass for the kids to play on, for they have none, a mural painted, and our biggest goal, to get some concrete poured.
S.O.S.'s expectations are great but we are getting responses, support, and respect from students, teachers, parents, and the Lydia house residents.
I don't really know if I explained how much of an impact we have made in a part of our city where most don't like to walk alone in, with the children who live there, or with the people who have helped us in anyway. There is much more to do but I feel like, that if we got this thing started, then there is no way we can ever give up.