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The Midnight Mission

A human service organization based in downtown Los Angeles

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Empowered to help, one meal at a time.

  • Apr 3, 2009
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A week ago, I joined some friends in my service organization at LMU for some community service in the heart of Los Angeles.  Service gives me a great high in life - and I frequently search for ways to give myself better purpose and meaning.  I found some of that at the Midnight Mission, over in downtown Los Angeles. 

There, we volunteered preparing and serving food to the homeless who live on Skid Row.  We woke up at around 5AM and drove over, as I saw the long line of people gathering up to wait for the doors to open.  The first thing I noticed about this organization was how organized and swift they were in preparing meals and handling volunteers.  Once we parked the car, we were directed to the check-in/security office where we signed waivers and were assigned duties immediately.  Each duty was then instructed by a mission worker and given all of the details about their job.  As a volunteer, you were either assigned in the kitchen, serving line or dining hall.  Everybody works as a unit and no volunteer is left behind wondering what else he/she can do.  Many volunteers are needed for everything - from cutting potatoes, serving food, directing line traffic or cleaning up dishes.  Like I said, meaningful service. 

Of course, with all service opportunities, it is always best when you get right into it and see where your efforts directly impact a community.  Midnight Mission certainly allows you to see where you play a role in helping folks fight hunger while living homeless in Los Angeles.  Once the line is allowed to enter and begin receiving their meal, you interact with the people who come into the building in a safe and dignified manner.  Midnight Mission registers and checks all incoming individuals of the program, and no violent or unsafe situations have occured within the dining hall.  While some folks are quiet when eating, others share their story and situation and welcome your company.  By 8AM, 600 people have came through Midnight Mission's food program, and the entire place is cleaned up with the optimized delegation of program directors.  The folks there always debrief the volunteer team with speakers who thanks you for your time and who also happen to be a former residents of skid row (all workers of the kitchen and volunteer program were folks who were once in those lines for food).   If you choose, they also provide a tour of the facility.

With only 3 hours of my time and an early wake up call, I was able to complete a morning of effective community service and still have my entire Saturday to enjoy.  I had the choice of leaving at that time, or staying to begin preparing lunch (which I did). Either way you choose, you will never feel like you did not contribute to the time you volunteer at midnight mission.  You won't find yourself standing around, hustling others for money or cleaning up after some event.  If you prefer your service to be needed, effective and humbling - I highly recommend stopping by the Midnight Mission.

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April 03, 2009
EcoMama.....yes, very interesting and indeed ironic how obseity continues at an epidemic rate in this country; yet others are starving to death-not only physically, but mentally as well. Sounds like a juxtapositon to me and one I wish we could do more about.
April 03, 2009
What a wonderful way to give back and I commend you for doing so! Best to you.....
April 03, 2009
That sounds like a great way to spend your time. Isn't it ironic how both obesity and hunger coincide together in this country?
About the reviewer
Angelo Ignacio ()
Ranked #1
I'm a Filipino-American living life as a post undergrad making a start here in beautiful Los Angeles. I love the weather and diversity here and enjoy everything this city has to offer. I'm excited to … more
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The Midnight Mission's Volunteer program is a vital part of our service delivery system. Annually thousands of individuals, church groups, employee groups and others come down to the Mission or our Family Housing Program to serve our clients and guests. This life-changing experience is available 365 days a year. We are flexible and open to creative ways to serve those that rely upon our organization for their daily needs.

Below are some of the ways that people contribute to our community through The Midnight Mission's Volunteer program.

  • Meal service in The Midnight Mission kitchen.
  • Special event preparation.
  • Sorting clothing and assisting in distribution.
  • Making food boxes and hygiene kits.
  • General clean-up and painting.
  • Tutoring for all age groups and levels.
  • Professional services, i.e., tax preparation, legal services and motivational workshops.
  • Internships and student projects.

Volunteering at The Midnight Mission is simple, fun and rewarding. The first step is completing a Volunteer Interest Form. This will allow our volunteer coordinator to match your interest with our needs. Simply complete and return the form and our volunteer coordinator will contact you for a volunteer orientation. Or email the volunteer coordinator at volunteer@midnightmission.org.

All volunteers will be given a tour of the facility, an overview of our programs and services and the opportunity to engage staff/participants in a question and answer period.

For more information: ...

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Los Angeles, Food & Shelter


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