While it’s important for me to incorporate philanthropy and travel, it’s also very important for me to give back to my community while I am home. It was my last weekend in Los Angeles before heading to Bolivia for the month of March and my friend David invited me to join him on Saturday morning. We were going to volunteer with The Dream Center in Los Angeles.

High Fives!

The Dream Center offers services and programs that include residential rehabilitation programs for teens and adults, a shelter for victims of human trafficking, a transitional shelter for homeless families, mobile hunger relief and medical programs, and a foster care intervention outreach.

Brita giving a photo lesson

Every Saturday morning, an average of 500 volunteers reach out to different communities throughout LA with LA Dream Center’s Community Outhreach Program, Adopt-A-Block. Teams clean homes, paint over graffiti, make minor home repairs, organize games for the children and visit with the elderly. Requests for appliances, clothing, food and furniture are filled.

This little guy was helping pick up trash

Our Saturday morning started early as buses from The Dream Center filled themselves with volunteers and scattered to various communities all over LA. Our group was headed to Nickerson Gardens, the largest public housing development west of the Mississippi River. Some of the amazing volunteers had planned a massive community BBQ so we were in store for a really fun time!

Dance Competition

When we arrived at the projects we gathered all of the BBQ supplies and headed to the community park area. There were already tons of kids out playing basketball, baseball, and riding their bikes throughout the community. We started to set up everything for the BBQ and spent a couple hours reaching out to the children and families.

So freakin sweet!

Adopt-A-Block had brought donations of everyday needs items that were in turn given to the families who came by. We had a blast paying with the kids and even held a dance competition that ended up in a tie between two of the best little dancers I’ve ever seen! We played a bit of basketball, played on the playground, and even taught some of the kids how to take photos on our digital cameras.

Skating through the neighborhood

After lunch was prepared, we served an endless line of families delicious food and left snacks and groceries for them to take home with them. It was a big & fulfilled day that was incredibly inspiring! Most of the volunteers involved spend every Saturday morning, and many days a week, to Adopt-A-Block and it is obvious that they are making a huge impact on the communities they visit.

Kudos to The Dream Center and Adopt-A-Block for all of the incredible things you’ve done for communities in Los Angeles! For more information and to see how to get involved, visit The Dream Center website at http://www.dreamcenter.org/

Photos by Brita Potenza

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Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.