When I started this blog, I worked in Malibu. This would seem to pose problems, or at least questions about how one engages with social justice.
Working in Malibu taught me to see opportunity that I may have missed otherwise, probably because I had to look harder for it.
For instance, a preschool in town has enough low-income children to qualify for a government funded supplemental education program we offer. One would not expect the preschool that teaches the babies of the stars to also be eligible for government funds. But because of the high volume of children of Malibu employees–cooks, nannies, landscapers–they do. So we send a team of students each week to work with the kids on literacy skills. The team partners with parents to encourage interactive education for every child in the class.
There is also a wonderful organization here that supports our day laborers by coordinating requests for workers. They do so much more than job placement, though. They offer basic, functional English language tutoring, for instance.
And during the day, men and women who are hoping to work spend time at the facility, building a community through their shared stories. Last year, one of the highlights of this season for me was joining their Thanksgiving potluck, complete with tamales, champurrado, and arroz con pollo.
I think that many of us who live in suburbia wonder what the need is. We can see it in the big city nearby, but it’s harder in our own town. A friend once reminded me that we serve in Malibu because “just because there is great wealth doesn’t mean there isn’t also great need.”
May our eyes be open to the needs of whoever is in proximity to us this season.