Restoring a community: A first-person account of cleaning up Santa Monica

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After rioting and looting resulted in the vandalization and break-in at the Santa Monica Corps and its facilities May 31, officers and corps staff joined volunteers to clean up the city’s streets June 1. 

“Today we witnessed people come together for the sole purpose of healing and restoring a community. We are grateful and proud to be with the City of Santa Monica during this time,” a post on the corps’ Instagram said. “Thank you to all who came out to make this clean-up possible…Please remember, we are here for you.”

Among the group was Administrative and Program Assistant Lauren Birks, who gave a first-hand account of the undertaking on her Facebook page June 1. 

“As I watched the news for several hours yesterday, I saw the city I consider home erupt in violence, destruction, chaos, and fear. I fell asleep praying for the Lord’s presence to be felt in miraculous ways. I anticipated going to work and experiencing a day of grief beyond adequate words. However, what I saw was radically different. Friends from all over come to our city to help clean up. 

“By the time we hit the streets to lend a hand, much of the broken glass, charred remains, piles of trash and remaining looted items had already been cleared. I expected empty and quiet streets, and homes crippled by anxiety. What I saw was streets full. Communities united. Restoration in action. Graffiti was being removed, business owners were being comforted and healing was happening in front of my eyes.

“We partnered with others to care for those who were caring for our community. Handing out water and offering prayer and support seemed like all we could do—but isn’t that what we should be doing? It was a beautiful day to experience the meaning of beauty for ashes. We were created by community for community. Today was a great example of what it looks like to come together as the body, and glorify the Lord with good works. I am beyond grateful to work in Santa Monica, and call it home.”

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