Liberty students lend a helping hand in LA

Elizabeth Rollison, Spotlight Editor

“Serving people can be big or small. That’s the most important thing to remember.”
Senior Halle Abel, along with several other Liberty students, got the opportunity to learn this lesson firsthand over spring break, when the youth of Highlands Community Church went on a mission trip to Los Angeles, California.
Los Angeles is currently experiencing a surge of homelessness, with 50,000 people throughout the city living on the streets. With that many people experiencing homelessness, and thousands more living in poverty, service is more important than ever.
The students worked with the Dream Center, an organization geared specifically towards helping those who are struggling.
“The Dream Center helps veterans, families, and all people who need a place to stay,” freshman Lucy Hegenderfer said.
When working with the Dream Center, students were able to experience what it’s like to serve a struggling community. They handed out food, cleaned the main building of the Dream Center, volunteered to sort clothing items for donation, and passed out basic necessities, like socks and toothbrushes.
Not only did students get to help people by handing out necessities, they also got the opportunity to develop relationships with those they were serving through the Dream Center’s discipleship program.
The discipleship program is a way for those serving sentences for robbery and other minor crimes to do good in their community. Through the Dream Center, criminals are able to perform community service, learn more about the Dream Center’s Christian background, and, ultimately, are provided with a full-time job working in the same poverty-ridden communities they grew up in.
All of this enabled the visiting students to learn more about the impact long-term service has on at-risk people and neighborhoods.
“The Dream Center is known for its consistency. They don’t just come to a neighborhood and say, ‘Can I pray for you?’, and then never come back. They return each and every week,” senior Lillian Moore, who had the opportunity to experience the trip with her father and her younger sister, said.
“One of the biggest things was serving people emotionally,” Abel added. “Hearing the stories of those who have struggled so much really transforms you as a person.”
Above all else, the participants took away the message of just how important serving others is.
“We’re often too quick to judge people, and say they’ll never recover,” Abel said. “But if you give them a smile and serve them in the simplest ways, you have no idea how big of an impact that can make.”