"Taking Kids Under Our Wings"
The name Underwings comes from the idea that we are “taking kids under our wings" by caring for them and guiding them as they grow up to become young adults.
The Mission of Underwings Praxis is to promote justice-oriented education for students at Loyola Marymount University through a process of immersion and accompaniment with the members of the Dolores Mission Community.
What began as an after-school program at Dolores Mission School in 2003 quickly transformed into Underwings as LMU students had the opportunity to tutor and mentor the youth. After being exposed to the culture and lifestyle of Boyle Heights, LMU students had the opportunity to learn about various social justice organizations in the area addressing issues such as gang violence, immigration, homelessness and community organizing in East LA. Two years later in 2006, the executive board of the Underwings Club at LMU developed Underwings Praxis out of the desire to get students further immersed in the Boyle Heights community.
Underwings Praxis acts as a bridge between LMU and Dolores Mission as it seeks to create an atmosphere of solidarity between the two communities. Underwings Praxis consists of 30-45 LMU students who participate in a year-long process of direct service, accompaniment, reflection, and concrete social change. Members are required to attend one of the four sites: Underwings@Impacto After School Program, Homeboy Industries, Guadalupe Homeless Project and Christian Base Communities.
Underwings Praxis serves in Boyle Heights at the four following sites:
Underwings @ Impacto (After School Program)
Underwings @ IMPACTO is an after-school program at Dolores Mission School, a Catholic K-8 elementary school, in the neighborhood of East Los Angeles. The majority of the children located in the area are ethnic minorities, most of whom are first-generation immigrants from Mexico or Central America. Dolores Mission School is adjacent to the Pico-Aliso housing projects, the largest concentration of public housing west of the Mississippi. Many of the students are “at risk” because once they leave the confines of the school, they are exposed to the harsh realities of the Pico-Aliso neighborhood.
The LMU Student primarily acts as a tutor/mentor for the youth of Dolores Mission School, helping with homework, recreational activities, arts and crafts and other activities with the children.
Guadalupe Homeless Project (GHP)
photo courtesy of proyectopastoral.org
GHP has been providing services to homeless men for over 24 years – December 12, 1988 marked the first day that the shelter declared itself a sanctuary for displaced people. The clients in our service area are primarily Latino Immigrants and have difficulty accessing services. GHP provides not only a shelter and meals, but also provides continuous services to clients. Some of the services include: transitioning to permanent housing, legal referrals, basic health care referrals, tobacco, drug and alcohol abuse information, and how to access and navigate through community services. All of these services and more are provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The LMU students’ primary responsibility will be to attend the homeless shelter on a weekly basis forming relationships with the men and assisting with the preparation of food for the homeless immigrants. They will also assist with various other necessary tasks such as organizing sport games, setting up bedding in the church, and/or cleaning the plaza. (Students bilingual in Spanish and English are preferred). All participants are welcome to utilize their own vehicles and are encouraged to carpool other participants or obtain CSA Van Certification.
Christian Base Communities
The Christian Base Communities (CBCs) at Dolores Mission are formed by people that meet in small groups, usually no larger than 12 members per group. They meet and work on the reality of their neighborhood or local parish. The CBCs are not a movement of the Church, instead are the Church in movement. The CBCs become a source of evangelization and a driving force of the well being and development of their people, neighborhood street blocks, etc. With this method, the CBCs reaffirm their plight searching above everything, the pursuit of living as brothers and sisters, and to build God’s Kingdom here on Earth and in this historic time.
The LMU student will attend weekly Christian Base Community meetings and participate in the reflections. They will also have the opportunities to participate in peace walks, solidarity events, and other events the CBCs host. The students will also help coordinate the CBC Friday Immersion and any events at LMU involving the CBC community. (Students bilingual in both Spanish and English are preferred).
photo courtesy of homeboy-industries.org
Homeboy Industries was founded in 1988 by Father Greg Boyle, S.J. as an employment referral center and economic development program for at-risk and gang-involved youth. Through its unique and multi-service approach, Homeboy Industries offers hope to those for whom hope is often foreign. Fr. Greg Boyle and his staff focus on giving young, at-risk and gang-involved youth an opportunity to escape their pasts and lead productive lives through gainful employment.
Located in Boyle Heights, a community with arguably the highest concentration of gang activity in Los Angeles, Homeboy Industries provides employment opportunities, counseling, and many other services (including free tattoo removal). By seeking to address the root causes of gang violence, Homeboy Industries creates opportunities so that at-risk youth can plan their futures and not their funerals. “Nothing stops a bullet like a job” is the guiding principle.
The LMU student’s primary responsibility will be to attend Homeboy Industries on a weekly basis forming relationships with the homies and assisting them with tasks such as finding a place to live and work, tutoring for GED, tattoo removal among others. The students will also help coordinate the Homeboy Industries Friday Immersion and any events at LMU involving the Homeboy Industries community.
Official Van Carpool Times
|Alternating Mondays and Thursdays
||3:00pm - 7:00pm
||After School Program
||4:00pm - 8:00pm
Contact Underwing Praxis
For more information or questions, email us at Underwingspraxis@gmail.com or visit the Underwings Website.
2016 Executive Board
President: Maria Gaynard (‘18)
Vice President: Paige Prevost (‘18)
Treasurer: Yi Ning Wong (‘18)
Secretary: Selena Shannon (‘18)
Special Events Coordinator: Antonio Porras (‘18)
Publicity: Christina Mock (‘17)
After School Program: Kevin Carroll (‘17)
Guadalupe Homeless Project: Alejandra Garcia (‘17)
Base Communities: Veronica Yepiz (‘18)
Homeboy Industries: Mariana Ugalde (‘17)
Program Moderator: Lorena Chavez, Center for Service and Action