Well, I have a BA in Communications for Advertising, with a creative and hardworking heart! But it’s not that simple. My motivation for helping people slowly started when I was little, I just didn’t know it yet. I grew up in Irvine, where my life had been rich friends, safe neighborhoods, beaches, and a great education. My teachers in high school would often joke about how the teachers parking lot looked like a junk yard compared to the high schoolers parking lot. Education, food, cars, and sometimes clothes, was paid for and never a stressor for me growing up. Money was something that I did not have to put my energy into worrying about.
Laguna Beach is a place that will always be special to me. Not only was it my place of solitude during high school stress, but, it was a place where I had my first encounter with the homeless. They would wait outside of the BJ’s resturaunt, and when I finished eating they would ask me for my take home left overs, and every time, I would give it to them. It became a regular thing that I would go in knowing that when I would leave I would be able to give my food away. I had realized that there was a lot of amazing things that I had taken for granted, and that there were so many people growing up, not having one single thing that I had. And that there struggles are nothing compared to what I had considered struggles. Right after that experience I developed a life goal. I wanted to own my own homeless shelter, offering a free place to stay for the homeless people in Laguna Beach. This is still a dream of mine and I am eagerly awaiting and excited for this to one day happen.
I was not sure exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was not that person who had any real career dreams because all I wanted to do was to be happy and make sure that my friends were happy too, and that was good enough for me. Whenever they needed help, I went out of my way to help them. I always wanted to just live in a house with all my friends and be that one friend who was supportive and has there back. As I went to college, I still did not know what I wanted to be, so my father picked my business major for me. It was simple and straight forward, but it was also very uninteresting to me, and at times was too difficult to follow. A couple years later I changed my major to communications for advertising, and figured out that it was a much better fit. Challenging your classmates through creativity and writing was far more exciting to me than math and numbers. While in college, I realized how popular coffee was and began to recognize it more and more as a necessary need for myself and other classmates. After that realization, my dream developed more. The second part of my dream is to run a non-profit coffee shop, and have that money support my homeless hotel. During college I also began to volunteer at a shelter in Placentia.
In my volunteer program, I conducted weekly one-on-one support meetings with a client in the transitional housing facility. I learned how to serve as emotional support as well as a mentor for guidance. I provided necessary items like food, babysitting, car rides, and more, as well as long term like finding a job and moving out into an apartment. I also documented our meetings. I learned how to give, how to be selfless, how to be patient, and how to be a friend. These were not lessons that you could learn in one day, and I am thankful for the opportunity that I had to commit to the whole 6 months in doing so.
I got to mentor a girl who lived there. A lot of it was just simple meet ups, like going to a park with her son, and we talked while we watched him play ball with other kids. Two of my favorite experiences with her was when we first went to LA to meet up with her son’s father, for a quick stop. On the way back, we decided to go hiking in LA since we were already there. It was fun seeing her in a different environment, enjoying nature and fitness with her son. I could tell that she was happy and had a good time because she had a different attitude and became more joyful than usual. My second favorite moment with was when I got to help her move out the shelter, and into an apartment of her own. With her job at UCI, she was able to afford a great apartment in Irvine. She was excited about not only being able to live on her own, but to be able to save up for things like a car, and how she wanted her son to grow up in a safe environment, while attending school. When I first met her, she did not want to open up and talk about her life with me, and was not sincere about her wants and her needs. By the end of the 6 months, she was not only completely open with me, and would share with me her goals, but would also put my words and opinions into consideration when making decisions. I am very proud of her and her son, and we still have each others numbers for whenever she feels like reaching out to me or staying in touch.
After I graduated college I realized how advertising is the industry that I did not want to be or work in. The commercial industry’s idea about how sex sells, how women can be degraded, and how race can be discriminated, quickly turned me off. Marketing jobs were much easier and stable to get, so I quickly figured out how to get those jobs instead. While working, I began to figure out that I would rather spend my time working hard to improve and make a lasting impression on the lives of other people. I knew that I still was not making as big as a difference as I wanted to, and I finally realized that it was time for me to stop pursuing a stable, high paying career, and to start putting myself out there and pursing my dreams to help poor and homeless people.
I have been slowly pushing myself into a career that I did not stop to realize that I need to follow my dreams as well. My dream of helping the homeless has been becoming more clearer and clearer every single day. Thus, I have decided to give it my all, and throw myself back into a new career, to pursue something completely different than what I am used to, because I can not be satisfied until I at least live my life pursuing my dream. I want to make such an impact in the homeless community that people will hear about it, be more aware of how to help, and want to join in themselves. My biggest fear in life is that I will die before I get to make my legacy of preventing homeless, and being known as the one who opened up the eyes of others, getting others to help the homeless as well. I want the whole world to notice how important this issue is, because everyone deserves to be loved, even the ones who fall through the cracks of society, no matter what walks of life they are in, and what situations that got them into it. My wish is for everyone to be open and more aware of the hardships of homelessness, and to genuinely help the next homeless person that they see. I believe that in order to change how society views homeless, we need to show love, we need to meet people where they are in life, with an open mind, and to be understanding, in order to speak life into them and effectively help them.
I believe there are several obvious solutions to end homelessness, like feeding the poor and funding more shelters, and cheaper housing. These are all incredibly important. Yet, I believe that there needs to also be more ways that people notice them, and that there needs to be easier ways for everyone to participate in helping them. People need to be educated more about the hardships of being homeless, and the stereotypes about them need to be broken. This might be my marketing side talking now, but there needs to be a bigger, and more positive media focus to draw more people to this issue. There needs to be easier ways to help the homeless, with a stable process. Instead of seeing a homeless person and acting out in fear, people need to acknowledge the fear of the homeless, and the terrifying moments that they go through, instead of the bad interactions that a regular person may go through with them.
I want to find an easier and more popular way for society to want to get involved in, like supporting a coffee shop, that gives its money to a shelter for those who do not have a stable home. Lastly, I want to show love to those who are hurting, and who have no family to turn to, and no place to go. There is no more time to waste being miserable with your life, it’s time to start following your dreams. Dream big with me!