[MOTHER OF INVENTION] A New Generation of L.A. Activists

Rita Mauceri

A young friend of mine—A.J., age 9—recently participated in the United Way’s Los Angeles “HOMEWALK.” His mom is a social activist, so he is perhaps genetically predisposed to change the world. But regardless, he’s a force to be reckoned with, and he reminds me—and us—that we should always be not only thankful, but aware and active.

While most youngsters are making Christmas wish lists filled with video games and toys, A.J. is looking at what life is like when you have neither. And not even a home. As we trim our trees and prep our holiday dinners, it’s a sobering reminder that LAUSD serves over 17,000 homeless kids. And A.J., for one, is out to change that.

Here are his own words, from his sponsor page, on why he wanted to participate in HOMEWALK:

“I want to walk for the homeless because people who are homeless can’t afford much stuff and it’s hard for those people to live. As I got older, it started getting more weird because I expected everybody to live in a house. Now I understand that some people can’t get houses.

“If you’re a kid, it’s hard knowing that you might not have an actual home—thinking that a tent is a home or a car is a home might be a lot to handle. It might be uncomfortable and you might not be able to have as much privacy. You might have to wear the same clothes all the time. You might be really scared and not sleep very well. You might be very tired at school. I think seeing that other kids get to walk home to an actual house would be hard. Even though it’s not good for you, I would eat at McDonald’s or other fast food because I wouldn’t have a choice.

“I think every family should have a safe home to be able to go home and cook dinner. It feels very different to be able to walk into a clean, nice home and get dinner cooked and be able to go into your own yard and play.”

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