Friday, June 5, 2009
Retracing Steps to Skid Row
On Mondays and Fridays, I take the Metro (train) at Memorial Park Station, which is just two blocks down from the Pasadena City Hall.
The train station is safe and clean. There's even an art design hanging above the platform for one's eyes to enjoy.
It only takes 25 minutes to get to the Union Station.
And I also am welcomed with commercial ads strategically posted on the wall. Oh, they're written in English and some in Spanish without any English translation.
Don't get me wrong. Skid Row is not in Mexico. The fact is; US now is densely populated with Spanish-speaking immigrants that there are thousands of Spanish advertisements everywhere. I just thank that Spanish was an elective course to Filipino high school seniors and a required course for the first two years in college when I was still a teenager. So, I am literate in Spanish. Too bad, Spanish is not a required course in Philippines colleges and universities anymore. The decision to exclude a Spanish course in the Philippine curriculum is ironic, because thousands of Filipinos are working overseas and many of them are even working in Spain. My country must consider offering foreign language(s) again as a course in both high school and college.
Anyway, from the Union Station, I take three stairs down to get a subway train that takes me to Pershing Square. Not a big deal. It is a five minute metro ride.
Look! It's not boring waiting for the subway train. At Pershing Square there are art works also made from neon lights to feast one's eyes on.
And I have a choice how to get out of the subway. I can take the stairs or the escalators.
Once I am out of the train station at Pershing Square, I am engulfed with beautiful and imposing high-rise buildings in downtown Los Angeles.
Nevertheless, I have to turn my back away and walk three blocks down the financial district of Los Angeles to begin my day in Skid Row.
I cross the Los Angeles street and see all the small shops selling all kinds of wares. One can get 3 pairs of shoes for $18 or a Lakers shirt for less than $5. Just realize now that Skid Row is not really scary to be walking around, despite those homeless people walking and idling around. Hence, if you'd like to get items at low cost, this place in Los Angeles would be the best place. One can haggle, too.
One could find everything here even dirty pavements...
And toilets! I am now in Skid Row.
I begin to see thousands of people in the street sitting in a small park or on the side of the streets, some selling cigarette sticks to other homeless friends and passers-by, and some are pushing their wheelchair or shopping carts full of belongings. Others are talking to themselves. Again, don't be alarmed. Just don't be ostentatious with bling-blings. Play it simple while on or near Skid Row.
They are waiting for meals and other social services offered by different agencies, like the Los Angeles Rescue Mission...
and the Union Rescue Mission...
This is my fifth week helping serve lunch to the homeless at Union Rescue Mission. It's a busy day, but I am always enjoying it. I can interact with different kinds of people. I can observe how people cope up with nothingness. Most importantly, I am learning how to assign a realistic behavior to my novel's main character.
I am pretty sure other volunteers are also enjoying their time in Skid Row. Just look at these group from Judson International School of Pasadena.
After serving food and cleaning the tables, they joyfully help in the kitchen.
Oh, yes, they are middle school kids under the supervision of their teachers, Sandy Halley and Kathy Pilgrim. And what a surprise! Kathy is also a member of Lake Avenue Sanctuary Choir; however, it is at Skid Row where we know each other. The Sanctuary Choir at Lake Avenue Church has more than 100 members and our two-hour choir rehearsals on Thursdays has been focus on learning and rehearsing 10 songs. No real time for socialization.
If you love God, you could come over sometime in Skid Row and offer your helping hand to make a difference in the lives of homeless people. Remember this: He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given He will repay to him (Prov. 19:17). And the King said, "Truly I tell you, in so far as you did it for one of the least of these My brethren, you did it for Me" (Matthew 25:40).
Please join us sometime and be blessed.
(NOTE: I would like to invite you to check my 25-minute Poetry Reading on Channel 56. My friend uploaded it on You Tube 3 days ago. If you'd like to get a copy of my books, you could check out Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobel, Borders.com, Target.com, Vromans, and other online outlets. Also, if you're in California and Hawaii, you could tune in Channel 18 at 4:30 pm on June 8th. Jannelle So invited me to guest (again) in her show, KABABAYAN LA, to talk about the languages in the Philippines. I hope Jannelle would upload our discussion on You Tube, especially that some of my out of state and U.K. friends told me that they also would like to listen to the discussion. Thanks guys and Happy Weekend. Edmund Industan)