I've always been afraid of this place.
When we are out gifting bags to women we are usually positioned in an area that is on the border of skid row, not in it. If we drove past this place all I could think was, scary, I don't want to go anywhere near that! Meeting Tina Russek has completely changed our view. The Los Angeles Mission is truly a beacon of hope in Southern California, their stats alone are pretty impressive: every year they serve the public tirelessly providing meals, beds, hot showers, clean clothing, security and even offer the opportunity to get an education with sincere guidance while allowing you to keep your dignity. No matter the need they are there to offer it.
Tina gave us a full tour of the enormous facility after accepting our humble donation, its not a spooky dungeon at all but more like a college campus, full and busy with lots of friendly faces. A clothing store, an education center a giant laundry, hotel style. Immaculately clean dorms, shiny cafeterias with the smell of fresh baked bread wafting throughout, guys lined up for a hair cut on one side, while groups of people chill and watch TV on the other side awaiting the opportunity to speak with a Mission rep. Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Running Man", was on, Interesting choice!
On the women's side you would think that you stepped into a major hotel. From the doors to the floors it feels welcoming and secure. An elegant rooftop garden cozy and inviting with skyline views of the city that leads to the beautiful women's cafeteria complete with a gym and TV room. The volunteers are fully dedicated and sincere.
At the heart of this is Tina Russek, upbeat and funny, flawlessly stylish, beautiful inside and out, everyone there knew her and you immediately understood why they love her so much, when your eyes meet hers Tina doesn't look away. From anyone, in her eyes everyone is someone.
Are we still afraid of the LA Mission? A little bit, but only the outside! Once inside its walls its a haven with a mission to make whatever we call "life" better. We will definitely be back and hope that our little contributions will make an impact.