Sharing Love With Others: Origin Story
December 02, 2020 ⋅ 6:30 P.M ⋅ Guadalupe Sandoval
In March 2004, Maxine Sealey went through a financial hardship. She relied on resources she could acquire through church services and other groups that gave similar forms of aid. Maxine had come from Panama at the young age of 15, but she was fortunate enough to find a community through church. After a talk with her Pastor, Maxine came to the realization that if she had gone through a financial hardship that left her vulnerable to food insecurity then there were definitely “other people [who were] going through the same situation [and so, she decided to] start an outreach at church to [give] back to the community.” Although Sharing Love With Others was “not [originally] geared towards the homeless,” it started as a mission to serve vulnerable individuals and people in financial distress. Maxine knows that individuals facing homelessness are simply “regular people that just fell on hard times” many of which simply “lost their jobs. So they got evicted. Or they got sick, and ... can't pay their rent.”
Maxine revealed that before she started Sharing Love With Others she actually “..used to volunteer with a lot of different organizations, big organizations, smaller organizations... but for some reason, [she] couldn't connect with the recipients because [her role was to give] them the food and [then] leave, especially at the big missions.” She wanted to build something in which she could build and maintain a connection with the people she served.
“I needed more. I needed more. And so I decided well, I need to start my own organization,” Maxine says.
When asked about how frequently they held their service, Maxine revealed that since they started in March 2009, they have “been going to skid row every Saturday,” she says: “we have not missed. Not one Saturday, rain or shine, we are in Skid row. We've been at Skid Row through COVID right in the middle of a pandemic. We did not stop. We did not stop. We did not stop.”
Their service is one of the few that remains available through this pandemic.
In fact many individuals facing homelessness were, and continue to be, unaware that we are in a pandemic, they simply know that “people have stopped coming.”
Maxine and her team do their best to build hygiene kits for individuals facing homelessness. However, when the pandemic first hit and the public was in a panic, Maxine says they “couldn't find hand sanitizer [or wipes] at the stores.” An already vulnerable community was faced with a new obstacle. Maxine points out that the government needs to “provide a lot more hand washing stations and maintain them.” Proper hygiene is a human right that many individuals facing homelessness don’t have access to. Lack of hygiene and public restroom facility maintenance puts everyone at danger and is a public health risk for all communities.
Government and state officials need to do more for our communities if they want to help us end homelessness.
As one of the few standing services mid-pandemic, Sharing Love with Others continues to grow. What started off as a few meals every Saturday has now turned into nearly 400 weekly meals! However, Maxine and other volunteers have an even bigger goal: 1000 meals. They hope to acquire the funds to serve this many meals by December, in time for the holidays. Currently Speak Out for Surgery has raised funds to help fund 166 meals, but this is just a small milestone in the long road ahead to combat homelessness in LA.
If you or someone you know would like to fund a meal and help Sharing Love with Others accomplish their goal in time for the holidays, please feel free to donate to the Venmo account: @SHARINGLOVEWITHOTHERS, CashApp: SHARINGLOVE2019, or DM us for other forms of donation.
About the Author
Guadalupe Sandoval is an undergraduate student at University of California - Los Angeles.