Love, Angelenos by Joshua Zamudio

 Photographed by Joshua Zamudio (@josh.tsm) / Edited by Jenae Lien (@jenaelien)

In response to the CoVid-19 pandemic, I had the pleasure of tagging along with Love, Angelenos as they went out on a grocery & pamper run. Stephanie Evangelista, Elizabeth Ramirez & Miriam Velez lead an organized community driven service for underprivileged and undocumented households in need of essential aid.
Love, Angelenos has been providing resources for 10 to 15 families a week. They receive donations from their community. On average, they range from $70-$110 worth in groceries and essentials depending on the household. For these young community organizers, this is there first time not only organizing a community benefit, but also in learning life skills while out providing their service.
The following is a transcription from the conversation I had with Love, Angelenos. - Josh
Elizabeth – Hi, my name is Elizabeth Ramirez, 21 years old. I was born and raised here in South Central, Los Angeles. I am currently a student at Cal State Los Angeles studying Communications & Marketing, and will be graduating this Spring.
Stephanie – Hi, my name is Stephanie, 22 years old. I also live in South Los Angeles - as a matter a fact, down the street from Elizabeth. We are neighbors. I am currently a student at Cal State Fullerton studying Political Science, and I will be graduating in 2021.
Miriam – Hi, my name is Miriam Velez, 22 years old. I am also from South Los Angeles. I was working as a research scientist at CHLA (Children’s Hospital Los Angeles,) getting ready to start some new projects that investigated several pediatric tumors. All of which had to be halted as the Stay-At-Home orders were put in place.
Josh – What were your thoughts when you realized the severity of the pandemic, CoVid-19?
Stephanie – Honestly, the first thing that came to my head was, how can I help? I am blessed to be in a position where I still have a roof over my head and access to food. I wanted to figure out how I can help those who might not have that.
Elizabeth – At first, I will be honest, I was selfish in the fact that all of my plans were put on hold. I was looking forward to my graduation and what was in store for my future after college.
I am grateful that my father can still provide as he is an essential worker. As things developed and changes started to happen around my community, I came to the revolution when I asked myself, where can I put my energy and efforts so that those without assistance can receive aid.
Miriam –

Since I live in an immunocompromised household, my work with Love, Angelenos has been done behind-the-scenes. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to stay at home and still be able to do some work from home. I haven’t really been out as I live with an immunocompromised parent. I only go out when we’re out of groceries, but even then, we have to be really careful and properly disinfect anything that comes inside the house.

I manage the social media pages, mainly creating content such as flyers, researching and posting resources on our stories, and answering DMs. I take calls from families along with Steph and Liz. We take turns being on the hotline and updating our spreadsheets on what families have been served while updating the status of others. 
Josh – I totally resonate with your intentions. I like to consider that we are privileged enough to use the platform that our parents came to the United States for. And use it to empower and shine light to subjects need it the most. I myself do the same with my work with photography and documentation. How did Love, Angelenos come about?
Stephanie – I saw on the news and was inspired by a group out in Nevada called “Shopping Angels” and essentially, I asked what type of services is out in our community doing the same? At the moment, after researching if there were any services in our area, we saw that there weren’t any. So, I mentioned to Elizabeth, “Hey, would you be down to go grocery shopping for those in need of aid.” We went together to do our first run and the simple action alone of doing something for someone else in a time of need was overwhelming yet gratifying. If we can stand in line for you because you can’t leave your home for any reason, we’d do it. The response of those who we serve has made us feel even more passionate about this project. 
Elizabeth – Once we saw that we were in a position to be able to help someone, we figured why don’t we try and assist as many families as possible. We knew things would worsen for families of lower income and undocumented households. As the first week went and the second week went by, we began to grow. We’ve been super appreciative to everyone who has donated and helped us be able to perform this service.
Miriam – It is very important for services like this to exist. I think about my parent’s situation and wonder how different it would be if I wasn’t here, able-bodied and healthy, to help them out. I think of all the elderly and single mothers who have to struggle with going out at the expense of their health and safety. We shouldn’t have to choose between food and health. 
Elizabeth – We’ve been doing this since late March, a month now, and we offer simple mobility aid, where if you have the funds, we can execute any essential shopping. But we know that in our community, a lot of the people that we are assisting are undocumented and are not getting any type of financial aid. We began asking for donations and saw that our own community, friends from high school, neighbors from the area, began to donate. In a sense, this formed a community organized community service.
Stephanie – I wanted to add that, even though me and Elizabeth are the ones out buying groceries, this wouldn’t be possible with out the support of our community. This is not about me or anyone part of the team, this is about a whole group coming together. So, we wouldn’t be able to help people, without the support of others. And the help comes from people we grew up with. People who are struggling themselves, but still take the time and energy to help with our mission. That speaks a lot about our community, that we believe in unity during these times.
Josh – I find it inspiring to see what you guys are doing and I commend you for all of your efforts in supporting those around you. What are the next steps for you guys? What type of footprint are you guys leaving behind with Love, Angelenos?
Miriam – We wanted to create a platform that centralizes resources that align with our community’s needs - Our undocumented, POC, low-income community. 
We want to be able to provide accessible information for our community and show others that anyone can help. We’re all young adults who decided to come together to help our community during these tough times. You don’t have to be professionals, you just have to have a willingness to help. 
Elizabeth – Even after we get through the CoVid-19 pandemic, this community will still needs the help. It still needs the resources. We want to continue this work after this is over and still attend to the needs of others.
Stephanie – Before all this started, I was teaching English classes at a local community school to parents and individuals who wanted to learn. We hope that once this is all over, we can continue to be a resource based organization that provides not only resources, but information and education. That's were we see this going. By providing resources, we understand that this emerged during the pandemic, but we feel that our community really appreciates this effort.
Elizabeth – This endeavor has given me a sense of purpose. It has been difficult to keep afloat when you are also experiencing the burdens that CoVid-19 has pressed on all of us. But I continue to stay positive for those around me.
Stephanie – You have an impact, from re-sharing a post, to donating $1. All this adds up, and it brings this momentum, and it is important. Our community needs to be heard and they need help. We understand the severity of this pandemic, but at the end of the day, we are just grocery shopping. We are just doing our part in a community effort.
Elizabeth – I know that after this, nothing will be the same. Just to know that those in authority have the resources to help others but have ignored our voices, fuels us to fight for a better world, for our people, and for all the minorities that don’t get resources that they deserve.
 Stephanie Evangelista, (Left) - Elizabeth Ramirez (Right)
Miriam Velez
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