The Heart of Volunteering: Personal Reflections from the Frontline

At A Step to Freedom (ASF), our volunteers are the heartbeat of our organization. They generously donate their time and energy to support our mission of enhancing lives and breaking cycles of homelessness, poverty, and incarceration in South Los Angeles. While the statistics around homelessness and housing insecurity in our community are staggering, it's the personal bonds formed between volunteers and participants that truly power our impact.

The Numbers Don't Lie
The latest data paints a sobering picture of the housing crisis gripping South LA and the urgent need for interventions like ASF's programs:

  • On any given night in Los Angeles County, over 66,000 individuals are experiencing homelessness (LAHSA 2022)
  • 34% of those homeless are in families with children under 18
  • Black residents make up 33% of LA's homeless population despite being just 9% of the overall population
  • 1 in 5 Black households in South LA lives below the poverty line

These numbers represent more than just data points - they are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and entire families in crisis. ASF's wraparound services and transitional housing aim to be the bridge to stability and self-sufficiency. But we couldn't do it without our dedicated volunteers.

The Fabric of a Community
ASF strives to center the lived experiences of our South LA community in all we do. That's why volunteers from the local area, or who share similar backgrounds as participants, play such a vital role. Their presence and first-hand perspectives help build understanding, trust, and accountability.

When someone sees a volunteer who looks like them, speaks their language, or has navigated parallel personal circumstances, it forges an immediate human connection that no statistic or figure of authority could replicate.