Pacifica Institute’s youth group and a group of youth from the Focolare Movement came together to turn interfaith partnership and friendship into interfaith action for the good of the community. An already ongoing friendship had brought them together once more around a table to share a Ramadan dinner. From there, an invitation from their friends gave the youth of the Pacifica Institute an opportunity to join in for a more fruitful weekend.
On Saturday afternoon the groups met in front of the West Side Food Bank. After a quick presentation, the volunteers got to work and started packaging the food, cleaning the area.
The West Side Food Bank is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit corporation that was founded in 1981. It provides food to social service agencies on the west side of Los Angeles County. The food often enables low-income people to stay in their homes because it saves them from having to make the agonizing choice between paying for either rent or food when they can’t afford both.(www.westsidefoodbankca.org)
The youth volunteers enjoyed working together and experiencing hands-on the act of selflessness and working for the good of a fellow human being. It was a creative way to get the youth to reach out to the community while also having a good time with their peers.
One of the youth volunteers from the Pacifica Institute shared her reflections of the day: "For the first time ever, my friends and I went to the West Side Food Bank. We met new Korean, Japanese, and American friends.We learned about the golden rule which is, "Treat others the way you want to be treated." None of us really knew each other beforehand, but when the time came to pack the food we worked hard all together. Even though most of us will probably have a hard time remembering each others' names, we worked hard for two hours straight that day and it was a team effort. We came from different cultures and religions, but one thing had brought us together: the needy. At the end of the day, we realized that we weren't so different from each other, we were more alike than we thought actually. What we accomplished that day together with such kind people makes me proud. I'm so glad to have met them."
After a hard task of packing food for those in need, now it was time to relax and have a good time while getting to know each other even more. This new group of friends from the Focolare and Pacifica went to the Ocean View Park in Santa Monica to have lunch and enjoy the rest of their day together. The youth and their families had brought different foods to share, and after lunch they continued with different games and activities that were not only fun but also educational at the same time.
Our young Pacifica volunteer continues with her reflections: "After the food bank, we went to the Ocean View park. The guys were already playing basketball by the time we got there, and we played volleyball with the girls. Then everyone shared their lunch with each other. They liked the Turkish tea and cakes that we had brought.We laughed, told jokes, and shared fun memories. It was fun to eat lunch with them. After lunch we played some games that helped us connect with each other. My favorite game was the one where we had to say the name and hobby of the person next to us. We had to pay attention to be able to remember most of the people's names and hobbies. After a couple rounds, we had another activity about the golden rule. We were divided into groups; my group wrote an essay, another group drew a comic, and the last group wrote a letter to the principal. After sharing our work the day came to an end and even though we didn't want to we had to call it a day and leave."
The youth of today are the generation and the leaders of tomorrow. Dialogue, friendship and love will truly have an impact on the world of tomorrow if we set up a solid foundation today. As Pacifica Institute, we look forward to many more gatherings with our friends of the Focolare Movement and all other communities we have come to know and love...