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Ronald Porter
Acting Director of Service Learning

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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Service Learning

Service Learning

Hollywood: Spring Break 06

Hollywood

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At one end, 15 thousand square feet houses in park-like settings, supported by multi-million dollar salaries. At the other, a freeway overpass sheltering a dozen homeless men and an occasional family. Our 2006 Spring Break Service Team immersed ourselves in the schizophrenia that is Hollywood, California, serving and learning with 5 agencies in 6 days.

The Hollywood Urban Project, the only community house in Hollywood, sits a half a block from mammoth Paramount Studios, in a 16 square block area that is home to ten thousand people, most of them undocumented, most working two or three job to keep their families alive. HUP outreaches include working with tag bangers, young children at risk for gang membership who get their kicks tagging any available space. "Independent" kids make a habit of walking down alleys and staying out of sight to avoid being gathered by gangs sweeping the streets for new members. HUP also sponsors a monthly family night when whole families can come for a free meal, food to take home, entertainment and games. For many families, this is the only time when they actually eat together, much less play. With both parents working multiple jobs, there is no time when they are all home - home being a place that is shared by 2-4 other families.

The Lord's Lighthouse, a ministry of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, feeds all comers every Wednesday and Sunday. We met Kaila and Ally, two 9-year olds who live in a car with their mothers. Their dog was taken from them because he was having to stay in the car when the went to eat at various agencies. Restauratuer and actor Jack Hall and his wife Miriam provide all the food for the 200+ guests that isn't donated and head up the cooking, a service they have provided for over 10 years. Volunteers like our team make up the rest of the cooks and servers.

At All People's Center in LA's infamous South Central neighborhood, we prepared for a street fair where clothes, food and health information we all given away. Covenant House, the US's largest agency working with young adults 18-21 in crises, we did those boring but necessary tasks in the offices and kitchen.

We were impressed by the kindness of the workers at the various agencies toward us, some random group from Florida with just a few hours to offer to them. And we came away grateful that organizations like the ones for which we worked exist to bring hope to communities that have every reason to be hopeless.

View photos from Hollywood

Notes from the Field

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