SCI-Arc’s Student Union (STUN) recently organized a charity event benefiting Skid Row, the city of Los Angeles’ largest homeless community. During one of STUN’s weekly meetings, a discussion around charitable giving and community support naturally evolved to solutions that SCI-Arc students could provide, says STUN President Melissa Alvarez (B.Arch ’18).
“I think it fits with the founding of SCI-Arc, where students would gather for discussions and voice their opinions,” says Alvarez who, as a young girl in Northern LA, would wrap gifts at local shelters and make teddy bears at hospice centers. “The founders wanted to change the way architecture was taught, and we want to change our community.” In accord with STUN initiatives, the One for One drive was orchestrated entirely by students at SCI-Arc
Supplies for 500 care kits—one representative unit for each student at SCI-Arc—were donated on a Friday evening following the last class of the day. “We exceeded our donation goal in approximately 30 minutes,” Alvarez recalls. In addition to collecting fruit, nutrition bars, bottled water, and sandwich condiments, the donation period also incorporated an engagement board featuring questions for students to consider; primarily, how do we as architects make a difference in the Skid Row community, now and in the future?
"SCI-Arc has always engaged the local community since it's founding, and we are pleased that the student body continues that legacy,” says SCI-Arc Vice Director John Enright. “STUN remains active and engaged with these important contemporary issues facing architecture and culture at large."
The following morning, on November 19, 20 students gathered in the SCI-Arc W.M. Keck Lecture Hall to assemble sandwiches, bag them, and distribute to the community. With guidance from faculty and local law enforcement patrol units, the group divided into four teams to distribute more than 100 packages each over a period of several hours.
“That’s where a lot of the community really shone,” Alvarez says. “It was a shocking experience because you’re ultimately in someone’s home, even though it’s in the street. People in Skid Row were very grateful for our gesture.”