• Austin H.

    "One of the last women who’s face I was painting was almost in tears talking about how much the day had touched her heart. She said that she has never felt that “seen” before."

  • Jennifer B.

    "This year I spent the entire day with Angel, an older woman who is recently homeless. We ate, danced a little, sat on the curb and watched the world go by and took care of a lot of business. Angel lost a few front teeth six months ago and was thrilled to see a dentist and the possibility of some support with fixing her mouth in the future. We waited patiently in a line so that she could replace her I.D. - it had been stolen along with all of her possessions at the mission she was staying at two weeks before. While we were in line, we got to know some of the other guests and shared some laughter. Angel also got to connect with the housing services and was put on a list for housing. She was able to pick out some much needed clothes. These errands took us the whole day and I'm grateful for it. We shared stories with each other. I got to meet other people who were drawn to us by Angel's delightful energy. I also learned a bit about her challenges. A recently ended marriage that ended with her homeless, disconnect with her children - I assumed because of a history of drug or alcohol abuse - but I didn't ask, feeling unsafe and having been recently robbed.... hard stuff. At the end of the day, I debated with myself whether I wanted to give Angel my information because I was not sure what I had to offer her. It was a no brainer. I have time and love and life skills to offer so I gave her my number - on an old piece of cardboard that I picked up off the street (didn't have paper). Angel's phone had been stolen so she wasn't sure when or if she would call me. A week ago Angel and I played phone tag and never connected. Today we did. I spent the day in bed, miserable with a cold. I saw my phone ring and checked the number, assuming I wouldn't be answering. When I saw it was Angel, I picked up. We talked for a long time. We thanked each other for the time we spent together at the Carnival. She told me she is has been going through all the steps to return to a rehab in Lancaster that she went to 5 years ago next week. She said that living on the streets was too hard, especially in the winter. She was robbed again at another mission and once again lost everything except her phone - which she keeps on her person at all times. She said her daughter was going to drive her to the rehab in Lancaster so they could have a 'girls day' together. We made plans to get together on Saturday because she wanted to see me before she left. I promised to teach her a few things on her phone - she was feeling overwhelmed by it. It was so wonderful to hear from her. The carnival is a truly magic experience. I feel like I got to connect with someone really special and am grateful that I have the opportunity to have a relationship with Angel."

  • Marlana H.

    "I connected with a woman named Bridgette. She and I talked all day as I helped her and her son Austin. She has two older daughters that live near me. She is a strong woman and I believe she will get herself out of Skid Row soon. Bridgette and I exchanged numbers and we have spoken multiple times...it's only been a week since the 2018 Skid Row Carnival of Love, but I feel like her and I will continue to talk and grow a true friendship over time."

  • Stefani B.

    "I fell in love with BJ who I was a personal guide for. He has done so much inner work and his positive spirit was magical for me to witness. I helped set BJ up with a job interview at Beelman's downtown and he got the job on the spot and started soon after the carnival!"

  • Tagan H.

    "As the sun was starting to rise over our set-up location, music was blasting from a nearby speaker and there was a tangible presence of kindred spirits I felt over our space as everyone scrambled to organize their areas. The reality of homelessness is that no one actively seeks this outcome and that people are chronically subjected to the conditions I have witnessed, is unthinkable. This carnival represents an acknowledgement of the human connection we share and the obligation we all hold to be each other's keepers and support when trials manifest. I am blessed to participate in this event. "

  • Jennifer J.

    "What strikes me the most was how open so many people were. I performed as a clown and people at the event would literally run into my arms for hugs. "

  • Jillian R.

    "Travis told me about his aspirations to travel the world and be a famous author. He really inspired me to chase after my dreams. It doesn’t matter where you come from—as long as you believe in yourself and are willing to put in the work, anything is possible. "

  • Shameka D.

    "We invited over 80 participants for job placement and training. Each participant was called after the carnival. 45 have committed to coming into the center and obtaining services!"

  • Christina D.

    "I feel I pushed myself this year outside my comfort zone and practiced being comfortable being uncomfortable, then became comfortable. My new friend Louis shared with me, he has been sober now since 2011 after years of heroin and meth. He now is dealing with the challenges that drugs have caused him but is doing so with a heart full of gratitude. My favorite moment with him was after we hugged goodbye, he said to me, "I will pray for you Christina." I told him that is exactly what I am going to do for him. I am keeping him in my prayers that he finds the perfect safe shelter to live. "

  • Jeffry Z.

    "When, Silver, our guest got a massage and fell asleep in the chair in under 5 minutes. She needed that rest. It was probably the best sleep she has gotten in a long time. It was the best day of the year for me and has resonated with me for weeks."

  • Kyle S.

    "Seeing the impact of simple human kindness change the physical expressions of those in need immediately. "

  • Sarah W.

    "I met Philip right at the beginning. He asked me a question “ Are you gonna love?” I said “ I’m going to try.” He responded “ that’s not an option. Either you are or not. Everyday you have to make a choice, to love, bring joy, to serve.” I’ll always remember Phil and his words of wisdom. "

  • Mayank S.

    "One of the most memorable guests was the last guest I was a personal guide for, Lionel. He moved to Skid Row four months ago from San Diego. He said he’s good with auto body repairs, but said it’s tough because local garages will call him maybe 1-3x a week, which is not enough to earn a living. After lunch I took him to the Career Services section. The gentleman there was happy to know that Lionel had his ID’s and paperwork and even said that they could help him get further training to work on more sophisticated vehicles like trucks, which would make him eligible for more full-time jobs. He was beaming, saying he’ll attend Orientation on Tuesday!"

  • Tailyr M.

    "I had already spent time as a guide with three other people when I made my way back to the entrance. This woman by the name of Karen came up and asked for a bag. I offered to show her around and she accepted. After introducing myself I asked if there was anything she wanted or needed first. She said no so I started going through the list. Karen just wanted to have a good time and get something to eat. While walked around we talked. She told me her story - she grew up in the projects of Chicago. Not that long ago she took a greyhound bus out to Los Angeles. She stayed in a shelter on skid row and just recently got an apartment about a block away. She talked to me about her childhood, the struggles she experienced with an alcoholic father, but mostly she talked to me about grace, about God, and how she knows in her heart that she can handle anything God puts in her way. We got ice cream and we danced. To open up to a stranger like that - you could feel that there was nothing but love between us. No expectations, just support. Karen pointed out the area of building she lived in, but we didn’t exchange numbers. I plan to drive back to skid row soon to find her. I have a photo with her and her name. I’m crossing my fingers that someone will be able to point me in her direction. Karen told me that she still needs a refrigerator for her apartment. I want to find her first, but I also want to try to help her find a fridge. With our resources combined, I guarantee we can get one for her so that she can keep fresh food in her place."

  • Liah D.

    "Meeting Bobby, who worked for Goodwill of Southern California Worksource. He was homeless for 35 years and lived in Skid Row during that time, but last year, he got his first job ever with Goodwill Worksource and now comes back to do outreach and help more people that are in the situation he was in. He just had such a bright spirit and was so grateful for everything--for having a job, for being at the Carnival, for being alive. It was beautiful!"

  • Ilana E.

    "This was my second year volunteering with my sister at the Carnival of Love, and we will be there every year! Right around noon when the guests walked in, I greeted a gentleman named Raymond, and got to bond with him throughout the carnival from that very moment until almost 4:45 p.m.! He was a very shy and polite man, with very little to his name (one pair of shoes, no phone, no ID, a recent transplant to California). We started by getting him a new pair of shoes and then I described all of the wonderful services that were available, and while he didn’t want to take advantage of them at first, we quickly built a bond and friendship and we did it all! He saw a dentist, he saw a doctor, he got his very favorite card game, Uno, he got a new soft and warm blanket (he mentioned the blankets at the shelter were scratchy and shed), he even got an incredible massage, he got a California ID, he talked to a few people about potential jobs, he applied for a cell phone, and he even got to be the very last guest accepted into the “hair salon” for a fantastic cut and shave. Raymond opened up to me, and we quickly came to the realization that while we are all facing different struggles and hardships, we are all human and we are all the same. Raymond will hold a place in my heart forever. I’m sad he didn’t have a way for me to keep in touch since he doesn’t have a phone (he was approved for one thankfully) and bounces around shelters. But I have a picture with him and I have thought about how much he enriched my life just by spending a few hours together. I’ll never forget Raymond!"

  • Kitty G.

    "Walking around and totally pampering 'Terry' and making him laugh. The dancing was glorious, and although Terry barely could shuffle walking with his cane, he totally felt the beat and would stop and just bounce in place to the music. His laugh was infectious and he absolutely adored the pink lady stilt walker. The energy was positively momentous! I loved the whole day!"

  • Jennifer B.

    "The last woman I guided was desperate to get in and get a haircut. She had been waiting but then left to walk her handicapped friend back to their tent. We were told they weren't letting anyone else in but upon seeing her disappointment, everyone bended and adjusted and got her in the chair. She glowed the whole time her hair was being cut and then end, she could barely contain her excitement. She begged me to walk her back to her tent so she could introduce me to her friend. Because it was the end of the day, I did. Deandra introduced me to everyone she knew on the way, beaming the whole time. It was really special to see how the simplest thing could make someone shine."

  • Anonymous

    "I spent time with the children which was really important to me, because me and my mother were homeless when I was younger. I would have loved something like this. I spent a year living in shelters and I'll never forget the Christmas I spent at one. It was one of the few times that I felt people cared about us. We get so wrapped up in our everyday lives, homeless people tend to get forgotten. The holidays were the one time a year where people came around and helped out. The reason this event stood out to me is because it took place after all of those holidays, during the time when they go back to being forgotten and I know first hand how amazing that can feel."

  • Niloufar G.

    "I was working the clothing donation table for woman, and a lady came to the table, and when I asked her what she is looking for, she said a nice dress that she can wear to church. That really touched me, as it was so important to her to go to church and dress appropriately. We did find her a perfect dress!!"

  • Lukas C.

    "When I was at the event in the morning for set up, one of the Skid Row residents, Carter was helping us set up and carry trash. We stood and talked for a while after we had finished getting set up and he told me about his story and how he ended up on the street. I made him aware of the services that we offered and informed in that the DMV was going to be here helping get identification cards. When he heard this he broke down in tears of joy and relief because he had been meaning to get to the DMV but hasn't been able to."

  • Linda N.

    "My favorite moment was when I met Willie. 11 days prior, he had moved into a low income unit- the first time in his 50 years that he has his own place. He admitted it was too much space. He had no TV, no phone, no car, no computer. He was ecstatic about buying a radio. If Willie can lead a happy and content life, then the rest of us should have nothing to complain about. Ever. We dined together, we danced, we hugged. In that moment nothing mattered- not our skin color, gender, age, income. We were simply two souls connecting with our hearts. I volunteered thinking I was going to give gifts and touch other people's hearts but I didn't expect my heart would be touched tenfold and Willie would be my gift."

  • Lisa P.

    "At the beginning of the afternoon, the tables were quieter and I had the opportunity to speak with one of the guests for quite some time. She and I were discussing the recent events with the women's march, and obstacles that some minorities are facing. Throughout the conversation I found that we are looking at the world through the same lenses, and at the end, she thanked me for taking the time to speak with her. She said she knew I was really listening to her because I was looking into her eyes as we spoke. I felt the same about her:)"

  • Annalisa B.

    "The sweetest 4-year old girl played basketball hoops with my 6-year old son. It was a moment when demographics didn't matter. It was two kids having fun. It should always be that way. "

  • Lynn P.

    "I am so thankful for the Carnival of Love because it led me to meet the lovely Sylvia. Despite her bad leg, we danced through the carnival, grabbing necessities for her and her grandbabies. Her cart broke, but I was able to find some duct tape and then we decided to sit in the park. We chatted for three hours about her life in Belize, the community that she is an active member in (they call her Ma), and how she's 74 and ‘don't need no man’ cause they can't move like her. I was able to walk with her back to her bus stop and left feeling so very loved."

  • Amber R.

    "A lady named Candy came to interview with us, she was well prepared and had great answers. As we finished up the interview we were telling her about how to apply for the store and she asked, 'so you really think I have a chance? When we told her "absolutely" she had a giant smile on her face, and tears in her eyes, and she said, "Y'all don't know how you just made my day, thank you so much."

  • Angela A.

    "When my friend took off her own shoes and gave them to a woman in a wheelchair who we could not find shoes for."

  • Neda S.

    "One lady that we were escorting had difficulty reading the DMV forms without glasses so I helped her fill out the forms and when she got her picture taken and got the receipt for her ID, she started to cry. She explained that her home had been burned down in a fire and it really hit home that she is living in a shelter due to a very unfortunate circumstance that could literally happen to anyone."