AWARENESS interviews Sam Slovick on what is the best way to make a difference in our inner cities
AWEARNESS: You’ve mentioned the term "informed philanthropy" to describe the types of charitable organizations that are really making a difference on Skid Row. What should individuals look for before they make charitable contributions to an organization?
Sam: People on Skid Row don’t need food and clothes. The missions serve thousands of meals a day. They do a lot of fund raising and provide a lot of services. Informed philanthropy is investing in a consciousness that deals with underlying causes of a disenfranchised community that is at the bottom rung of our society. Two of my favorites are School on Wheels that tutors kids in their store front on San Pedro and 5th Street and United Coalition East Prevention that does a lot of outreach and address problems in the community directly. They also have an after-school program for kids. Both seems to have an understanding of the deeper systemic issues that need to be addressed.
He makes a really good point about investing in often forgotten organizations that deal with the underlying problems of extreme poverty. I think the most important thing is to find out what organizations are making a difference in the areas that you care about and then help out in the ways that you are best equipped to do.
Slovick is asked about if there is anything that will be done politically
AWEARNESS: Of the various Democrats and Republicans still in the Presidential race, which of them do you think has the type of "political will" to help solve the homelessness problem in America?
Sam: I don’t think any of them have the political will to do anything of consequence. It’s not that they’re uncaring, personally. It’s that they are part of a larger consciousness that has decided to accept that people at the bottom rung of society don’t matter. That agent orange veterans, severely mentally disabled people, addicts, victims of spousal abuse, children and others who have no resources should be allowed to suffer senselessly and needlessly in the richest country in the world, at the most abundant time in history, on the streets of Los Angeles.
The phrase â€œthe larger consciousnessâ€ is what bothers me because that includes most of us and that is a far more complicated issue than Slovick lets on. For the most part we live in cities and we drive to work, the Mega-Lo-Mart, to the pub. There is very little neighborhood in many of our lives. When we are driving we are checking our e-mail, listening to music, having an emotional affair with the voice that powers our GPS, or chatting on our cell phones. We arenâ€™t even paying attention to the road let alone the lives of those around us. We donâ€™t walk, we donâ€™t sit on verandas, we don’t enroll our kids in neighborhood sports leagues. Everything we do pulls us out of our communities (including the church) to other communities. It isn’t a larger consciousness, it is our larger unconsciousness that is the problems. We are not connected to our neighbors, our neighborhoods, or even our cities anymore so what difference do those people around us have on our lives. His point is correct but I think it is a natural off-shoot from bowling alone for all of these years and is a by-product of us all withdrawing into our lives.