Every day, approximately 66,433 homeless people sleep on the L.A. streets, a 12.7% increase from 2019.
Last July, freshman Joyce Sycip and junior Johanna Sycip decided to establish Affirmed by Grace, a ministry striving to support the homeless. Since the COVID-19 pandemic caused many to lose their homes and decreased the amount of resources available to the homeless, the two decided to intertwine their family and religious values in making a difference in others’ lives.
“My mom has always had a compassionate, tender, generous, and loving heart towards the poor,” Johanna said. “She would tell me of her life in the Philippines and how poverty and homelessness were prominent. I was always taught to lend a hand to anyone in need. I think what really pushed this ministry to start was just the passion in my parents’ hearts, motivating us to help.”
Growing up with a strong Christian background, the Sycip sisters recognized the privileges that God had provided them and that it was only right to spread kindness. They have also turned to their faith for providence whenever their ministry endured financial hardships.
“My faith has given me a happy attitude towards things that going to serve others doesn’t feel like a chore,” Joyce said. “Although there were times we didn’t have enough money in our ministry bank account, and worried about it, we got together and prayed that there would be water by the next time we went to L.A. Then, the next day someone called us, offering water bottles.”
Affirmed by Grace has raised over $800, despite only being founded seven months ago, and are hoping to raise $5,000 on their GoFundMe page to provide funding for the supplies used in their “blessing bags.” The bags contain snacks, socks, shirts, water, underwear, toilet paper, hand wipes, and other basic necessities. Other supplies that they offer include utensils, food containers, and food for the meals that the ministry makes.
“The message we want to give to others is that there are endless ways to help, big or small,” Johanna said. “A word of encouragement, sharing our posts on social media, or asking your friends or family makes a difference. Like the Bible verse, 1 Peter 4:10 says, ‘Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in various forms.’”