How have you been active in community service in your community?
I do no know to what extent the actual “services” help the community. I don’t know how many sandwiches need to be served or children need to be clothed before we–acting as humans, not as citizens–put any dent in the problems. However, for the past ten years my mother and I have gone to a small church in East Los Angeles to feed the homeless. What I notice each time is how it helps me: the scared and scarred faces, the tunneled eyes, the tattered clothing, serve to show me the ugly underbelly of my community, serve to ground me in an otherwise abstract reality. The more the members of the community are grounded in that reality, the more motivated we are to change it, to attack it, to devote our time to people outside of our friends and our family. That makes for a tighter community, more willing to come together in a time of crisis. As a result, those who receive the help come to feel acknowledged, even if the actual help is insignificant. Receiving their meal makes them smile or, at worse, fake a smirk. They come to believe that they are not abandoned, and this emotion can serve as an excellent motivater.