During our third week in Orange County I was starting to feel a little run down. Camp does not officially begin until Monday, so trying to perfect lesson plans and moving supplies in 100-degree heat had me feelings impatient, anxious, and forgetful of just why I was here this summer.
During one free morning we had from Girls Inc., we went into Project Hope, a local non-profit which aims to end child homelessness, to work a couple hours in their food pantry. When we heard about the organization, we learned that Project Hope was a privately funded non-profit. The volunteer coordinator explained that being privately funded meant that all of the items in the pantry came from donations from the public and none of it was funded by state or federal government. Looking at the volume and the quality of items in the pantry knowing that each of those was donated by local individuals, families, or businesses was humbling and heartwarming to see.
Additionally, by being privately funded, Project Hope is able to target homeless populations that would not be considered homeless under the government’s standards. Since Project Hope’s mission is to help homeless children, a lot of those families would not be considered homeless in the traditional sense; they are living with other families or in and out of motels. Although these living situations are not considered homeless in the traditional sense, they are still harmful to a child growing up there and prevent the child from reaching the same achievements as their peers.
After learning of Orange County’s complicated–and somewhat complicit–past with the homeless, this organization brought a feeling of hope that the community is involved and actively trying to alleviate this problem. This reminded me of exactly why I was here and next week when work starts I am so excited to be with these kids every day.