Jackson Huang has always been concerned about poverty and homelessness, and after completing his military service a few years ago, he decided he was going to do something about it.
His first stop was Skid Row. After attending Volunteer Orientation and Training in 2012 with the Downtown Women’s Center, Jackson began coming in regularly to help out in the Kitchen and the Learning Center.
A quiet but near-constant presence in the Day Center, Jackson made it his goal to help women feel comfortable at DWC—and it wasn’t long before the women saw him as someone they could count on.
“I just really enjoy being here and seeing how DWC has created a safe environment,” Jackson said simply when asked why he chose DWC. “I think that a really essential part of providing services is providing a safe environment. If participants don’t feel safe, they don’t want to be here or talk about their situation.”
After a year of volunteering in a number of different roles, Jackson left Los Angeles for UC Berkeley to study Global Poverty, but DWC was never far from his mind. When the opportunity arose for him to return to DWC as a full-time volunteer as part of his coursework, he jumped on it. “I’ve always wanted to come back,” he said. At last he had the chance.
But while Jackson completed over 240 hours of service at DWC this summer, helping out in nearly every volunteer position available, volunteering meant more to him than racking up hours for a college course.
“It’s really fun,” he said of his favorite volunteer job—Residence Hosting. “You get to interact with the residents and it allows you to understand more intimately what DWC does. Sometimes working behind a desk makes it feel like there’s a barrier, but that doesn’t happen in the Residence. You can interact more openly with the women.”
Above: Inside the Downtown Women's Center San Pedro St. Residence.
Through his service at DWC, Jackson has also become more involved with the greater Skid Row community. “It’s really interesting how participants and residents of the Skid Row community want to make a difference in their lives and environment. It’s been amazing to see kind of a grassroots organization build up in DWC, trying to find solutions from the bottom up instead of just having people at the top try to dictate everything.”
To learn more about advocacy at DWC, click here.
We asked Jackson to offer some advice to potential volunteers. “Apply online!” he joked before adding, “You just need to have a helping heart and a passion for making a difference.”
Jackson certainly has both of those things. Thank you for your incredible contributions, Jackson, and we hope to see you again soon!
Interested in volunteering at DWC? Check out our current opportunities, and find out how you can play a role in ending women's homelessness!