MARCH 4th, 2017. Lake Merritt, Oakland.
It is the first Saturday in March – quite an unusual day if you ask me. The rain comes and goes. The sun timidly hides behind the clouds, yet families, kids and a plentitude of Oakland’s homeless community populate the lake.
Unsure of how I am going to spend the rest of the day after a one-on-one session with my advisor, Colin, from Students Rising Above, I decide to stroll to Lake Merritt to reflect and admire the lake. After a two-minute bike ride to Lake Merritt, I stopped on the sidewalk at the overpass, right above a tent city, to answer my mother’s phone call. As I’m finishing my call, I spot a family from East Oakland; Daniel Lopez, his young daughter, Xitlaly, and Daniel’s sister Lilian, handing out bagged lunches and water bottles to strangers in need. Most of these people are homeless men and women whose only home is a tent under the overpass that connects Lake Merritt to Peralta Park and 10th Street. This Saturday was the family’s second time contributing their time, money and heart to feed Oakland’s most needy.
As I approached the Lopez family to thank them for their service to our community, they offered me a “Ham Sandwich and Water.” I kindly declined the meal, insisting that they give it to someone with more need. Instead, I proposed to document their trek to feed the homeless population at Lake Merritt.I followed them on my Giant bike for about half an hour, as they handed out 40 of their 100 lunches for the day.
“We have ham sandwiches and water!” Lilian Lopez exclaimed as we strolled through the path filled with tents and makeshift beds. A man who was laying on a sleeping bag sat up to receive a meal, returned a heart-warming smile, and a “Thank you!” Two more people living in this ‘Tent City’ gratefully took a brown bag too, “Ham Sandwiches and Water.”As we walked towards the Alameda County Court House, they noticed great numbers of homeless people absorbing the daylight and using the sanitary facilities provided by the City of Oakland. Within 10 minutes, 40 lunches diminishes to about five brown bags. Even one mother with her two children took one sandwich. “Thanks! One sandwich is good enough; we’ll share it! Give the others to those who need it the most,” she said.
It is important to acknowledge the smiles and happiness that the Lopez family brought to the lake. Their actions lit up the day of many and inspired me to take action and support them with the three dollars I had in my wallet. It is my dearest hope that the Lopez family inspires many more families, individuals, and organizations to take humanitarian action. Whether it means taking it into your hands and feeding another 100 people or donating your time or money to the Lopez Family and extend the impact to help the greater homeless population in Oakland.
Today, the Lopez’ served 100 lunches, but the hope is that millions more will be served through many other hands in the future.