Sunday, March 21, 2010

Off Line & Upward Bound

It's been a while. I've been kinda off-line lately because sometimes I like to rebel against the machines. Not like desert-island rebel (yet), but a cut-down for sure. I've been in and out. I guess FB is good for that. My cell phone gets on my nerves, too. I really hate the image of people walking around texting, or unable to do anything without their heads down, thumbing at their phones. Not that I don't too, but I get self conscious about it and ignore the cell phone for long stretches. I feel that way about the computer too sometimes. But I miss my friends, and a good number of you live right here in the internet!

So, our SAMO girls basketball team made it to the 3rd round of the state playoffs and went down in a heart breaker against Clovis West, a team out of Fresno. We lost by 4 in a back and forth battle. We shut down their 6'3", 250lb center, but we could not contain their star guard who played out of her gourd. She dropped 39 points on us out her team's 61. She bombed threes, drove on three girls at a time and dove on the floor for many balls. She said after in an interview, "I never wanted anything more. I wasn't going to lose." And you have to respect when one's ability matches their drive. She was amazing.

Mina just finished her Y league. They lost today in the championship game. She's a superstar though. Her natural athleticism is pretty phenomenal. Here is the other star, Cloe, also 10. This was the team's one-two punch. While Cloe grabbed a defensive rebound, Mina would have already bolted to the other end. Cloe would cock back her arm and rocket a pass to Mina, who was the only one able to catch a pass like that, and would usually finish with a lay up. This happened about five times a game. Can you beat the stance of these girls? Is there anything more beautiful?
I went to a volunteer orientation on Saturday for the Upward Bound House, which is a transitional housing program for homeless families in my neighborhood. I pass the main facility all the time and I looked it up online last year. I just now got around to committing a small amount of time to volunteering. I've wanted to do it for so long. I told UBH I was willing to work in the food pantry which means stocking the food donated by the Westside Food Bank in a makeshift store where families can come and "shop" twice a week. They are able to fill up a box for free. There is a thrift store too for clothing needs. Each UBH apartment is decorated with unique touches -- plants and paintings -- and filled with pots and pans, towels, toiletries, etc. When the family moves on to permanent housing, they are able to take with them the pots and pans and dishes and plants -- everything but the big furniture -- so they don't have to start all over again in the new place. The program is amazing because it is a real catapult into a thriving life. Families can stay for up to a year. Parents take mandatory financial planning classes and three elective life classes are chosen too; classes in resume writing, interviewing, parenting classes and other life skills. After the year, another year of aftercare is available to them where they can utilize the food pantry and thrift store. The program is entirely supported by the community through many volunteers and contributions from many local businesses because the philosophy is that a strong community helps our people most in need, and not just with the very barest of essentials but with a strong leg up. We don't send them off downtown or to struggling neighborhoods; we embrace them and get them on their feet. I mean, exactly, right? So, I went to the orientation and I got to talking to the coordinators and the next thing I know I'm going to teach and demo a baking class for the Kids Club on Thursday night. I'm not sure if I'll teach the class every Thursday, but I am this week. We're going to make Lemon Poppyseed Muffins. We're talking about a healthful cooking class for the parents too. I'll keep you posted. I am overwhelmed that something so right is succeeding in my neighborhood and I can't wait to lend my hand too.


Marigoldie said...

Great news all around. I love the concept of this community program -- how brilliant and how obvious, now that you mention it. You're going to spread so much light in there with your baking workshop.

Mina and Cloe are killing me in that photo. I would love to have seen the scene you describe (even though I did kinda see it in my head).

madness rivera said...

Obvious, yes, good word. I will say that there is an arduous interview process for the families to get housing at UBH -- only the most motivated to get off the street make it in, which is why they have a 95% success rate for over a thousand families served, but this leaves a big hole in other sectors of homelessness including those currently struggling with addiction and mental illness. That said, there is a unbelievable growth in the group categorized as "motivated" homeless or newly homeless especially families here. The homeless growth rate in my area is up 35% since 2005. (According to the LA Homeless Services Authority). I will also say there are a good amount of programs in SM that help the homeless who struggle with mental illness and addiction, UBH is not one of them. But I’m so motivated by giving kids a fighting chance by watching their parents not only get back on their feet, but thrive. Also, 95% success rate for over a thousand families?! That’s a program that’s working and preventing families from slipping further back, possibly causing a worse chain reaction in the kids.

Marigoldie said...

Get those families on their feet, then you have a stronger, healthier society to take care of the addicted and mentally ill. In theory.

Madame One Tree said...

Firstly: GIRL POWER, AND COMPLETELY SWAGGALICIOUS!! I could almost see the game of both the girls.

Secondly: UBH is bound to be so fulfilling for you. I know you know it, but something profound fills the empty spaces when you give of yourself. It's like that more you give the more you receive thing. A good space to be in.

lagata said...

Love the photo of Mina and Cloe. Sounds like they make a great team. Both games sounded like they were phenomenal, played the whole way through, games. Awesomeness!

UBH - 95% success rate - incredible! How wonderful that you are able to share yourself with them. I can't wait to hear about your experiences (if you share) :o)

missysue said...

Love your blog! Thank you for such an inspiring visit ;o)

love + luck + bliss,