By Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16
It is difficult to imagine that in 1944 Fred Jordan came to Skid Row and found hungry people living in boxes with their meager possessions strewn around the asphalt. Sadly very little has changed in the ensuing years.
But throughout that time the Fred Jordan Mission has been steadfast on Skid Row, “Loving the unloved, feeding the hungry and healing the hurting.” The Jordan family continues to be involved in running this non-profit, faith-based and educational relief organization.
A large crowd of Penn volunteers of all ages showed up in two shifts on this exceedingly hot and sunny Thanksgiving. There was no shortage of helpers. Crowds of single guests and families lined up patiently waiting for their meal, while city leaders and clergy spoke and music blasted from a stage.
The event was planned to create a festive, tasty and embracing Thanksgiving for the poor, the working poor and the homeless, and the Mission was prepared to serve 3000 people at their 73rd annual Street Banquet.
Penn Serves LA volunteers helped set tables, arrange chairs, serve plates of food, pass out drinks and mingle with the crowds. Rarely has one seen larger drumsticks or heartier portions of mashed potatoes, and the diners seemed grateful for the wonderful meal and the upbeat atmosphere.
Some Penn volunteers helped to pack and hand out sizable bags of produce to guests after they finished their meals. As the sun reached its peak, tables were cleared and folded up, bags of trash were taken inside the mission, and brooms were at work to leave the streets clean before evening set in.
The Penn volunteers headed back to their cars, home to families for their own Thanksgiving celebrations. To get to our vehicles, we walked by tents on the sidewalks, various encampments and people returning to their lives on the streets. Our “work” that day was easy, but one could not help but feel humbled by what we had observed and experienced.
About Penn Serves LA
Penn Serves LA impacts the Los Angeles community by engaging University of Pennsylvania alumni, parents and families in meaningful community service activities.
Since our founding in 2012, we have done everything from serving meals to the homeless to restoring the environment to fixing homes. Six times annually, we find another great opportunity to learn about interesting nonprofits, lend a hand and enjoy a fun experience with fellow alumni.
We invite the Penn community in Los Angeles (alumni, parents, and kids) to join us at a future event, to help spread the word and to help us plan future activities. Join us, meet new Penn people, demonstrate what service means to your kids and friends, and help fellow Quakers make a little bit of difference in our complex city!
If you have an established nonprofit that you would like us to consider for future events or announcements, please let us know. We are looking for new nonprofits to serve in meaningful ways.
Questions? Want to join our email list? Reach us at email@example.com.
The Penn Serves LA Team
Christine Belgrad, W’85, PAR’15 | Michal Clements, W’84 | Justin Gordon, W’05 | Jane Gutman, CW’73, PAR’14, PAR’16 | Leanne Huebner, W’90 | Jamie Kendall, W’04 | Irene Park, C’05 | Kiera Reilly, C’93 | Michelle Wattana, C’09 | Denise Winner, W’83, PAR’21
Read about our previous events:
- January, 2018 – New Year Social
- 2016 – 2017 – Year in Review
- October, 2017 – Penn Serves LA and TreePeople at the Audubon Center
- September, 2017 – Penn Serves LA Restores the Ballona Wetlands
- August, 2017- LA Works Pop-Up Day of Service
- July, 2017 – Portraits of Hope
- May, 2017 – Food Forward
- April, 2017 – Habitat for Humanity
- January, 2017 – Penn Serves LA Toasts the New Year
- January, 2017 – Blankets of Love
- November, 2016 – L.A. Kitchen
- October, 2016 – Got Books? Penn Serves LA Staff’s ICEF First Literacy Festival
- March, 2016 – Rescue Rabbits
- October, 2015 – Penn Serves Picks Packs of Peppers at Westside Food Bank
- September, 2015 – Penn Serves LA Reads to Kids
- July, 2015 – Penn Serves LA: Harvesting a Garden for Veterans
- June, 2015 – Penn Serves LA Spruces up a New Charter School
- June, 2015 – Penn Serves LA Has the Giving Spirit
- August, 2014 – Penn Serves LA Strikes Again: This Time with Paint!
- December, 2013 – Holidays are a Time for Giving
- November, 2013 – Sending Holiday Warmth to our Troops
- August and September, 2013 – Serving the Environment and LA Leadership Academy
- May, 2013 – One on One Outreach
- March, 2013 – Habitat for Humanity
- January, 2013 – Inner City Arts
- September, 2012 – The Midnight Mission
- June, 2012 – Turning Point Shelter