With the support of the Strauss Internship program, we were able to volunteer at an urban mission project called Los Angeles Urban Project (LAUP), organized by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. The purpose of LAUP was to bring college students and the underprivileged communities of the inner city LA into a mutually beneficial partnership. Our team was stationed at Lincoln Heights in LA where we volunteered at the Downey Recreation Center Day Camp. During the day we worked full-time with children ages 5 – 12, and on evenings received various teachings on God’s heart for the poor and oppressed. Our experiences at LAUP challenged us to rethink the luxuries we take for granted and to intentionally insert ourselves into a neglected community that exists so close to us.
At Downey Recreation Center, we typically spent our time playing with the children, doing arts and crafts with the children, helping children with a journal activity, occasionally teaching the children, and occasionally helping out with manual labor that needed to be done. I (Michael) occasionally taught science to the kids, while Simeon occasionally taught creative storytelling. We also took the children on field trips to fun locations every Friday. Through spending time with the children, we were able to provide a figure in their life who loved them and spent time with them. Many of them did not have such a figure before, as many of the children rarely got to see their parents due to them being overworked. One five-year-old asked me (Michael) if I could be his dad until I left because he never got to see his biological father. We were able to make the children feel loved and for a short time, give them a loving parental figure that many of them desperately needed.