Travel Log: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and Pasadena
Sister Julie Fertsch, SSJ
October 8, 2018
What an unbelievable first day! Every moment of it was so full–sacred, privileged, and special. We were all so incredibly humbled and deeply inspired! What a gift!
At 8:30 a.m., after a healthy breakfast and a fruitful morning prayer, we loaded up the bus and headed out for our kickoff event at Ocean View Park in Santa Monica, CA. We received quite a welcome from the many supporters who were anxiously awaiting our arrival. There, we heard from Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Representative Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Angela and Myka Eilers from the Little Lobbyists , Joe Sanberg of CalEITC4me, Gene Sperling, Former Director of the National Economic Council, and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. These fine women, men, and a little girl named Myka challenged us to come together, to remember that we are united,
and to speak out and to share the stories of the families who are struggling the most. They called us stand up for the children in this country, to hold our elected officials accountable, and to remember that WHO WE VOTE FOR MATTERS! They reminded us that our national budget is a reflection of our values, our priorities, and how we affirm the dignity of the human person, and they inspired us to take care of each other, to listen to each other, to feed the hungry and to be beacons of light and surpluses of hope in these very dark times.
At the end of the program, Rabbi Sharon Brous offered the blessing: “Each of us is called to do whatever we can to heal the world and bring about the Kingdom of God. Go and help free us from a politics that conceals, marginalizes, disenfranchises, and steals from those who need the most, a politics which hatred, intolerance, and heartlessness poisons the water of our nation. Go and proclaim liberty throughout the land. Go, and remind our nation, aching under the weight of injustice, that it is precisely in the dark of night that we can see the stars. Go, go in peace.”
After the crowd signed their pledge cards and the Bus, we made our way to our next venue: Homeboy Industries. Homeboy Industries “provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Each year, over 10,000 former gang members from across Los Angeles come through Homeboy Industries’ doors in an effort to make a positive change.” (from Homeboy Industries Website) Boris, Janet, Christina, Selena, George, and Allison created an incredible experience for us! The “Nuns on the Bus” had the opportunity to assemble a tray of cookies in the bakery with Christina and to hear a bit of her story. She reminded us of the importance of opportunities and chances and articulated how Homeboy Industries gave her just that…the opportunity and chance to become the woman she is today…the woman her children are so proud of. We met George, the security guard for Homeboy Industries, who often comes in on his days off to give tours to groups like ours. He found his road to recovery and healing because of his love for his children. After many years, he still returns monthly to juvenile hall to speak with the kids he encounters. He said “If I can save one by my witness, then that is enough.” Boris and Janet, a newly married couple, have worked together for a number of years at Homeboy Industries. They also inspired us with their stories of radical transformation, of the many ways they found “home” at Homeboy Industries, and how they continue to feel excited and grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organization.
Finally, we closed up our first full day with a Town Hall for Justice at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA. There, we received an overwhelmingly warm welcome from the community and the Rector of the Church, Mike Kinman. We heard from Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) and then the group of us engaged the community in a way that really brought Tax Justice to life. There was great energy! What a gift to hear the concerns, ideas, and solutions that the group surfaced.
Earlier in the day, Joe Sanberg of CalEITC4me used a quote written by Dr. Suess: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” All day, we had the fine, beautiful privilege of meeting people on the journey who do, in fact, care a whole awful lot. These caring people shine like stars in very dark times. Let us train our eyes to recognize, see, and focus our attention on them! And let us continue to be amazed by the gift of their light and love!