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Due to the pandemic, our annual Skid Row Carnival of Love was unable to continue. In addition, our Be Love Give Love Program, which was happening in the park to provide food directly to our unhoused neighbors, became too hard to control due to the number of people needing food while also following COVID guidelines. Soon, the need was more extensive than ever, but it was not safe to distribute services the same way.

Facing obstacles of a challenging economy, a worldwide pandemic, and a safe location to serve our unhoused neighbors, we turned to our wider community for help.

We have always had vital volunteers, with many flying to California each year to help with the carnival. However, now we needed regular volunteers to help every week. The response was awe-inspiring. Fifteen volunteer committees representing a broad spectrum of our community arose and began helping with recruitment, food distribution, communications efforts, etc. Soon we had more than 100 regular volunteers.

In addition, partner agencies embraced us with enthusiasm. They invited us to bring delicious food to their resume-building workshops, drug education sessions, vaccine pop-up events, Juneteenth celebrations, STI testing, etc. Our ability to enhance their events with healthy food was a win/win. We could provide services in a more controlled environment due to the pandemic, and dignified food made their events more attractive to attend. Many of the individuals present said this was their first “real meal” in a long time.

Due to systemic racism, an alarming number of black people represent the homeless population (4 times more than represented in LA County’s population). The food we provide is restaurant-quality food purchased mostly from black-owned small businesses owned by women. This particular business sector was hit the hardest during COVID. In fact, according to a recent analysis, 40% of small black-owned businesses closed by the end of April 2020.

Since January of this year, we have collaborated with more than 20 organizations to serve three times more members of our community than any other year. We have distributed 10,000 healthy vegetarian meals served in compostable containers thanks to a grant from Chris Pan & MyIntent. Plus, thanks to a generous gift from Business for Good and so many other incredible partners, we have been able to distribute thousands of masks, hygiene kits, and hand sanitizers. We also provided diapers, backpacks, shoes, drinks, family meals, 300 Art of Shaving Kits, and so much more.

Right now, we plan to have mini-Skid Row Carnivals of Love when it is safe to gather in large groups. Each one will be themed based on specific needs within the community. For example, one mini-carnival might focus on wellness with haircuts, foot washing, healthy food, meditation, hygiene products, etc. Another mini-carnival might focus on employment with resume building, recruiters, interview practice, the social security and driver’s license offices, transportation gift cards, clothing, etc.
On October 10, World Homeless Day, we will announce our 2021 Gifts of Love Campaign, which will engage the community in opportunities to serve, connect through art and give. We will also be announcing our new name BeLove.org. BeLove.org is a Baha’i-inspired charity that partners with like-minded individuals and organizations to support the cause-driven storylines of Wayfarer Studio projects and serve as a love hub of education, advocacy, and service opportunities. Like was the case when it was called the Wayfarer Foundation, we want to create lasting positive change in the world and work with partner agencies to distribute dignity, compassion, and coordination of care to serve our unhoused Los Angeles community. In everything BeLove.org does, whether working with our unhoused neighbors or partnering with Wayfarer Studios to share a powerful message from an upcoming film, we want our charitable efforts to encompass service with meaningful participation from all involved and seek change through a sense of worth and capacity building. Most important is that on this journey, we cultivate a personal and collective sense of well-being. We hope that together, we can all do our part to create pathways to meaningful employment, meet immediate needs, and shift our values so that our entire human family can have an adequate standard of living. Be Love is what we strive to be every day, and we invite everyone to participate and help create a more loving, prosperous community.
Wayfarer Foundation will now be the philanthropic arm of Wayfarer Studios. The Foundation carries out the Baha’i principles of oneness and world peace. As profits come into the studio, a portion of those profits will help various charitable organizations. We anticipate that more than 40% of the funds given out by the Foundation in 2021will help to eliminate racism through BIPOC led nonprofits or organizations where our BIPOC brothers and sisters are at the forefront of healing, leadership, and prosperity. In addition, remaining funds support education, oneness, gender equality, eliminating religious strife, eliminating wealth disparity, and many more initiatives toward world peace.
If you want to support our 2021 Gifts of Love Campaign by writing letters of encouragement, hosting a donation or gift card drive, or engaging in a week of service, please go to our website belove.org or contact volunteer@belove.org Grants for Wayfarer Foundation are by invitation only.