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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beauty in Service

The Downtown Women’s Center is something that I will never forget. I was shocked initially because the center is absolutely beautiful. I had pictured something decrepit and intimidating, but the center lets in a lot of natural light and the building is brand new (well, the façade looks old, but it looks to be newly renovated). We got a tour of the center and the accommodations, it was really cool to find out that there were so many services available to homeless women on Skid Row. They have day beds, showers, a TV, and there are three meals a day. After the tour, I sat down at the front desk and began to get acclimated to the center. There were probably about 35 women in the center the first day. A woman started talking to us; she was carrying a manila folder filled with papers, dressed rather nicely, with makeup on. She asserted that she was so glad we were there to help the women and that they really deserved the assistance. It took me five minutes of conversation to realize that this woman was herself, homeless. She told us that she had ten children, all girls, and she was looking to have some boys. I had so many questions for her, but I had to refrain, as I did not want to offend her. At the desk, we answered the phone, checked the ladies mail, and signed them up for case management, where women are able to get help with collecting social security, getting jobs, or looking for permanent residency. We also announce classes; today was anger management and safety in relationships, and answered general questions, among other things. We met a lot of women, many of whom just wanted to talk. We met a woman who is an aspiring comedian. She preaches on the street and speaks a lot about her faith and God’s love. She is inoffensive in sharing her beliefs, at least I thought so, but she has a very positive outlook on life. She hasn’t complained once all day! Sister Miriam asked us if she could tell us some jokes; she is HILARIOUS. She does a great Michael Jackson dance routine. Meeting Sister was a perfect first day experience. I learned about a lot of positive ways to engage with the women and it was really the first experience I had with the homeless women that wasn’t intimidating. When you take them off of the street, you are able to look at them differently, and look at them on more of a humanistic level . I love it at the Downtown Women’s Center. They served snack at 2:45 and it was really fancy, the nutritionist made fried rice! All homeless women on Skid Row are able to have three meals a day through the Center. They can shower, receive mail, even watch TV. The only thing they can’t do is sleep overnight. The center closes at 4pm so the women have ample time to get to overnight shelters, where they have to line up early to get in. I would assume that they serve dinner at many of the shelters as well. I can’t wait to go back to DWC.

-Alyssa Silva


Anonymous Kelsey Laubscher said...

Alyssa, this is such a lovely description of the women's center. I can really get a sense of how much you love it there, and I really enjoyed the stories you shared. It's obvious you worked hard to convey your enthusiasm for the center. Keep up the good work!

March 3, 2011 at 1:30 AM  
Anonymous Yenitza Munoz said...

I am happy you wrote about this topic because we, as LMU students, live in LA. Skid row is a hard reality in this city and people have to be aware of it. There are many women who live on the streets of Down Town and suffer every day. I am happy you brought this topic to light, because it is relevant to our surroundings.

-Yenitza Munoz

March 15, 2011 at 11:09 AM  

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