APU helps the homeless at the 5th annual Skid Row Carnival of Love

Azusa Pacific nursing students volunteered alongside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to care for the homeless at Skid Row’s fifth annual Carnival of Love on Jan. 26.

More than 20 students from APU’s High Desert Regional Center partnered with the Wayfarer Foundation for this “day of human kindness.” According to the Wayfarer Foundation, the event was founded by actor Justin Baldoni, known for his role on the C.W. network’s “Jane the Virgin.”

The event included free food, healthcare services, haircuts, feet washing, clothing donations, games, showers, career opportunities, education, legal, housing services, pet services and other activities.

APU nursing students volunteered to help treat the sick but also took the opportunity to minister the love of Jesus by washing feet and praying with those who came.

Lydia Garcia-Usry, lead nursing instructor at APU’s High Desert Regional Center, spoke kindly of Mayor Garcetti.

“He was very friendly, and he took the time to talk to the students,” Garcia-Usry said. “He washed feet alongside of us and engaged in conversation with those he was serving.”

Garcia-Usry also noted the importance of the act of feet washing.

“We did that because the homeless are constantly on their feet, and even at this event, they have to be on their feet waiting a long time for food and service lines, so there’s a lot of wear and tear,” Garcia-Usry said. “Also, of course, it’s based on what Jesus did with his disciples.”

Garcia-Usry said that to wash someone’s feet is to humble oneself and to honor another person. The act of washing someone’s feet is based off of Jesus’ command to his disciples, found in the book of John 13:14-15.

“We were there to serve the homeless, to give them respect and dignity, and also to put on humility like Jesus,” she said.

Garcia-Ursy said that it’s good for students to volunteer and be exposed to this environment because as future nurses, the homeless population is going to be one of the primary patient populations they will see in trauma units.

“Just as a nurse has to have an understanding of different symptoms that they will encounter, a nurse must also have an understanding of different populations they will encounter,” she said. “We have to have a cultural awareness of different groups of people, and to be exposed to [this environment] gives students a better understanding of homelessness. I think the students saw some wounds they wouldn’t normally see.”

Nursing student and volunteer Adelina Alejos Rivera said she strives to see others the way God sees them as she serves His people.

“When I was a child, my mother taught me to share what we had with people who had less than us,” Rivera said. “I do not have much, but I have plenty of understanding and compassion to share. Nobody knows the reason they are in their situation, but I know that I want to be accepted as a human being that has feelings, and I would not like to be pushed away.”

Rivera said she wanted to make those who came feel seen and heard.

“With every foot [washing], I tried to make [those who came] feel that they are not forgotten, that they belong … and that we are all [God’s children],” Rivera said.

Nursing students from APU’s High Desert Regional Center also volunteer at food distribution centers, soup kitchens, pregnancy resource centers and preschool services because of the high population of children in foster care and poverty. Garcia-Usry and her students are currently collecting shoes and socks for the annual “Sock, Shoes and Salvation” homeless outreach on Aug. 1.

For more information or to make a donation, visit the Socks, Shoes and Salvation Facebook page.