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Nos Amis/Our Friends, Inc.
Children Helping Poor and
Homeless People (CHPHP)
2554 Lincoln Blvd., #522
Venice, CA 90291
Phone:  (310) 840-4777
Phone:  (800) 333-4349
Website:
www.chphp.com
Email:
chphp@earthlink.net

 

As originally published in the June-July '94 edition of "Hard Times"

 "Learning By Doing:
A Touch of Reality In
The World Of Education"

by Jessie Yager

      Children Helping Poor and Homeless People is a non-profit organization founded seven years ago.  Volunteers prepare and distribute food and clothing to homeless people in Lincoln and Memorial Parks.  What is truly amazing about CHPHP is its ability to affect people.  I have been involved with the group for the past two years, on and off, and almost every time I go on the route I see something that reaffirms my belief in the effort.  Whether it is spending time to talking to someone, or hearing people say "Thank you" when you hand them food, it is hard to dispute that this group of volunteers has truly touched the lives of others.

      Arguments are made that feeding programs like CHPHP do more harm than good.  They are even accused of encouraging homelessness.  Though I now realize the ludicrousness of these contentions, at one time I was one of the people who agreed with them.

      I first heard about CHPHP when one of my friends started working with it two years ago.  When she first told me what it was and what it did, I was rather unsupportive of the idea.  I thought what many innocent but ignorant people who really do care about the situation thought:  'How does giving people handouts solve any problems?'  But when my 11th grade community service requirement of 30 hours was staring me in the face, CHPHP was one of the few places I had to turn.  I am embarrassed to say this, but it is true:  I originally got involved with CHPHP because it appeared to be an easy solution to my community service problem.  Little did I know that my opinions, my outlook, and in many ways my life would be altered because of my involvement.

      Even after my first day working with CHPHP I realized that all of my preconceptions of the organization, homeless people, and the homeless situation were false.  After seeing what CHPHP really does - give hope, support, and friendship to people in need - I think that what it is doing is the ultimate form of help.  But beyond the respect that I have for what CHPHP does and how fortunate I feel for being given an opportunity to work with them, the majority of my gratitude is for what they have taught me.

      I have learned more than I ever thought I would about local politics and the homeless situation in our community, state, and country.  Most importantly I have really been able to meet people.  Real people.  Because of the contact that I have had with the homeless people we see on the route, I have been able to shatter the myths and prejudices that I had previously held.  From the volunteers I have worked with I have learned compassion, tolerance and kindness.  From the homeless people I have met I have learned about struggle, suffering and hope.

      I consider my time spent with CHPHP to be among the most valuable of my high school career.  I honestly feel that I have become a better person because of my connection with the multitude of volunteers I have worked with and learned from.  And I have been given an invaluable education, from the many homeless people I have come into contact with, that I feel is unique.  Next fall I am starting as a freshman at a college in Connecticut.  Connecticut is very far away from my home.  But, I think that I am ready to face the future because I have been given such a strong foundation of values and ideals, much of which has come from working with CHPHP.  I am forever indebted to all those who made this education possible for me.  If you would like to contact CHPHP you can call 310-840-4777.

      (Editors note:  The above article was written by a high school student at Crossroads School, an exclusive private school that promotes the concept that its students are a part of the general community and encourages them to become involved in various community social service organizations.)


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