What Can We Do About Violence Inside Our Communities? Volunteer!

Mes amies, my heart hurts — again. A 17-year-old was killed after being struck by not one, but two separate vehicles in the span of seconds. It happened near my home. Police say that the drivers who killed the boy likely planned the killing following an argument at a party. The suspect is at large. How does something like this happen and the person responsible gets away with it? I keep asking myself what we can do to make sure things like this don’t happen

Los Angeles sometimes has a reputation for violence, but it never feels that way to most of the people who live here. Communities are spread apart more here than they are in other cities. The violent parts might sit right next to peaceful areas, where residents never think about terrible acts committed against their neighbors.

I’ve decided to spend more time volunteering. What else is there to do but become familiar with other members of the community? This is partly what draws me to legal work. The places where it’s possible to make the most difference are places where my time is better invested. 

Although disputes will sometimes lead to violence, we’re all much less likely to lose our cool with people we know and love. That’s why I feel so strongly that it’s important to share as much of ourselves with our neighbors as possible.

There are literally dozens of non-profit organizations in dire need of bodies. Resources are stretched thin. Sometimes staff members don’t have the skills necessary to communicate with non-staff members. For example, half of this city’s residents are fluent in Spanish — and the other half seem to have comprehension of the language beyond the words “si,” “senor,” or “chica.”

LA Works is one of the best options available to those looking for volunteer opportunities. They provide access to dozens of various programs to support underserved communities or non-profit organizations.

For example, volunteers might create disaster preparedness kits, tutor students, provide language education, mentor kids, work in soup kitchens, or even keep an ailing or lonely senior citizen company. These opportunities aren’t forced on anyone. But they do serve to enrich lives — and not only the lives of the people we help. I’ve found my own satisfaction with my own life immeasurably greater as the result of the time given to serve others. But not enough people follow suit. That’s what I’d like to change.

My medical bills from the climbing accident are still being paid off, but I plan to enroll in an LA-based law school in the next year or two. It’s past time. I’ve learned so much over the past two years that I feel like I could pass the BAR exam right now! Of course that’s not the case. But I’m excited and inspired to keep learning everything I can from my own mentors — as I lend my time to mentor others in similar situations.