North Hills parishioners ‘Love It Forward’ with acts of kindness

Carolina Loweree (left), who presents parish seminars at OLP via the Family Improvement Through Education (F.I.T.E.), helps a surprised shopper, Vianey Mendoza, with her groceries. — Credit: MARIA LUISA TORRES

On a recent spring morning in late March, North Hills resident Elentina Sanchez looked out the window of her modest home and was greeted by blue skies and bright sunshine — but the beautiful weather did little to lift her wilting spirits. Overcome by a sense of sadness, she impulsively walked out her front door to try to escape her despair by wandering the streets, as she had done many times before.

But on this particular day her solitary walk was cut short. As Sanchez reached the sidewalk she suddenly heard a friendly female voice say, “Hello. Can I give you a hug?”

She looked up to see the smiling face of Maria Ramirez, who was on a mission with fellow parishioners from Our Lady of Peace Church and School to “love it forward” in the local community by performing random acts of kindness.

With tears in her eyes Sanchez gratefully accepted the hug, later recounting to The Tidings, “I felt like God had put her in my path. It was exactly what I needed.”

Ramirez was among scores of Our Lady of Peace students, parents and churchgoers, together with friends and community partners, who participated in the parish’s first-ever “Love it Forward” event.

Participants were encouraged to go out and approach random strangers at nearby shops, supermarkets and street corners to offer an unsolicited act of kindness “simply because” — with the hope of starting a growing ripple effect of people “loving it forward,” explained Julie Picot, director of marketing and development for OLP School, who spearheaded the effort.

“We are so isolated nowadays, more than at any time in history. We can travel around the world so easily, yet people just aren’t as connected [to their communities],” said Picot.

“We want this event to remind people what’s important in life — it’s all about love. Love is powerful and it makes a difference. And every time we give we get way more back. It’s a way to live your faith in action.

“For the people [this event] touches in the community, we hope it starts a ripple effect, because when somebody is kind to you then you’re more likely to smile at the next person you see — and that’s what we want for our community.”

Upon arriving at Our Lady of Peace the morning of the event, participants received a paper with over 100 ideas for acts of kindness, including zero-cost options, such as starting a conversation with a homeless person or helping someone carry their groceries to their car.

Other ideas involved small monetary investments, such as buying someone a cup of coffee or donating new socks to a shelter. They were also encouraged to hand out business cards and stickers printed with the phrase “Love It Forward” to the people they met, with the suggestion that they help another person.

Following the allotted time period of 90 minutes, dozens of the participating men, women and children returned to the parish hall at 12:30 p.m. for free food and refreshments and a chance to share their experiences with their fellow do-gooders.

For eight-year-old Destiny Morales — who, alongside her mother and siblings, greeted customers exiting a local supermarket and offered to help them with their groceries — the Love it Forward event was a way to “give thanks” for the many blessings in her life.

“Today I really wanted to come to this event because I wanted to give thanks to God, because I feel like I’m so lucky to have food and clothes and a place to live, and there are a lot of people who are homeless and don’t have food to eat or somewhere safe to sleep at night,” the talkative third-grader told the group.

Ramirez invited her new-found friend Sanchez to the parish gathering, introducing her to her fellow parishioners and sharing the jovial atmosphere and fellowship.

“When I saw her, she just looked so sad that I had to approach her,” recalled Ramirez.

“I’m so glad she did,” chimed in Sanchez. “And I’m so happy to be here instead of being out on the streets alone. It was such nice surprise.”


Voices

Jean Beliveau, RIP

REV. RONALD ROLHEISER, OMI

Jean Beliveau was more than an athlete, though certainly he was a one-in-a-million athlete. The record of his achievements almost defies belief. He played in the National Hockey League for 20 seasons and retired with 10 championship rings. 

 

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Events

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December 20, 2014

  • Saturday, December 20

    St. Margaret's Center Christmas Program, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Morningside High School (Cafeteria), 10500 S. Yukon Ave, Inglewood. St. Margaret's Center, Inglewood School District, Doorking, Inc., and Centinela Hospital Medical Staff invite you to join them as they create a holiday wonderland with Christmas surprises for more than 1,000 poverty-level children and their parents. (310) 672-2208. Click here for more information.

    Christmas Shop at Holy Grounds, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., St. Monica Catholic Community, 725 California Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 566-1500.

    Dancing Festival of Lessons and Carols, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Holy Spirit Retreat House, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino. A concert by Valyermo Dancers & Co., choreographed by John West. $15. Contact Sr. Deborah for more info, (818) 784-4515.

    Christmas Dinner Dance, 6 p.m., Knights of Columbus Hall, 21433 Strathern St, Canoga Park. Tickets, $28. (818) 371-0473.

    Las Posadas, 7 p.m., Parish Hall, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 600 W Mariposa St, Altadena. Posadas means “the inns” or “the shelters” in Spanish. A religious and social celebration, Las Posadas commemorates Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for shelter prior to the birth of Christ. We invite you to join us in a one-day celebration of this tradition. (626) 794-2046.

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