• The A Million Drops Center has been open for 15 weeks and it’s going strong. We are open Mondays – Fridays from 2 – 6 pm with an average of 14 to 20 people coming to spend time to recharge batteries, the ones of their phones as well as their own.

    We offer a free in-house library, art supplies and 10 laptops to do research or print resumés.

    A team of homeless young adults under the guidance of garden expert Charles Malki is working in our edible garden, learning how to grow food.

    One of our guests is organizing a series of poetry workshops; the first one was titled “BlackOut Poetry”. As you can see in the pictures, it even looks beautiful!

     

    We have volunteers who pick up donated food and drop it off at the Learning Center, others come to engage in conversations with our guests, to play boardgames or help with things like filling out applications.

    We are receiving lots of wonderful donations, including laptops, a TV and a DVD player, sleeping bags, materials for jewelry making, clothing, toiletries, snacks and more. The Hollywood United Neighborhood Council (HUNC) has been a strong supporter, financing several of our programs, amongst them a self-defense class, an art workshop and our free laundry program. We can’t express our gratitude enough for all the amazing support we are getting!

    Our next step is to raise money, so we can by a used van to take our young guests on educational field trips.

  • Our A Million Drops Learning Center has only been open for ten weeks, and already it is making a big difference in the lives of the young people who visit. They come in to rest, charge their phones, and enjoy a cold water and a snack. And once they have recovered a little from their daily struggles they start to explore.

    Some ask for art materials and draw for hours, forgetting the world around them, others pick a book from our in-house library and read quietly, some find a partner to play chess or scrabble, many make use of our (old) laptops to research or write a resume, or they just sit together and chat.

     

     

     

     

    Three days a week, they get the opportunity to take a shower at the Adventist church next door or in the shower trailer provided by Shower of Hope, an organization founded by our friend Mel Tillekeratne.

    On an average, we serve 10 – 16 visitors a day who consider the space their home, treating it with respect and pride, and making sure every newcomer does as well.

    The first four weeks, AMD Director Maike was in charge. When she had to go back to working in her regular job, three of our guests stepped up to the plate and took on responsibilities. Josh, Jason and Craig make sure that the Learning Center opens and closes on time, and they take care of everything in between: from welcoming visitors and explaining our rules to first timers to handing out refreshments and snacks – or socks and toiletries if needed, and much more. And at closing time, they clean the place and water our edible garden. We couldn’t be happier!

    Our fundraiser is also going well! In only three weeks, we have received donations in the amount of $7,730, securing almost four months of rent!

    If you would like to support us as well, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/homeless-learning-center.  Any amount is highly appreciated and will help us make a positive difference in the lives of some very awesome, less fortunate young people.

  • Developing ideas and working on designs to be transferred onto utility boxes in Hollywood.

  • June 9th was a BIG day for A Million Drops. We held our 6th Annual UTW Day. We had another successful Unsheltered Art Show. And both of these events happened at the Grand Opening of our very own A Million Drops Learning Center. What a day it was indeed.

    The Learning Center
  

    We’re very excited to share the news about our new Learning Center. It had been a goal for a very long time to have a place where homeless and at-risk young adults could come in off the street to read, learn and get the help they need to improve their life situation.

    Our opening day was a tremendous success. We had a huge turnout of friends, people from the community as well as our board members and many of our peers in the non-profit and fundraising community that work to help improve the lives of homeless and at-risk youth and young adults.

    The Learning Center offers opportunities to study as well as teach, and gives those in the community a brick-and-mortar location where they can come donate their time, needed items or money to help improve the lives of others.

    Unsheltered

    Coupled with the opening of the Center was Unsheltered VII, our recurring art exhibit presenting works by homeless, young adults. In the past we featured drawings and paintings. This time around we decided to make it a “photographs only” show.

    In realizing that not everyone is comfortable with paint, we thought everyone can take a photograph. This allowed for many more of our local homeless and at-risk young adults to take part.

    We raised money and spirits. The art exhibit resulted in many pieces being sold, with a majority of the proceeds going directly to the artists. They were thrilled, of course.

    Opening Day was also the day when we started to create our edible garden in the back of the lot. Thanks to the California sun and frequent watering (taken care of by Craig, one of our young clients) the little vegetable plants and herbs have already grown in nicely.

    Self Defense Class

    Directly behind our new Learning Center we have access to a banquet hall. That is were we held our very first community Self Defense Class. Supported by the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council (HUNC) this event was open to all members of the local community, and it was a rousing success.

    It was especially fulfilling to see some of our more shy and introverted friends step outside of their comfort zone to take part in learning how to defend themselves. The class was taught by Jean Morrison, a veteran self-defense teacher and life coach. The event was so well received we have already scheduled our next class for July 14th.

    Future Classes and Events

    In addition to the Self Defense Class, we have a number of events and classes scheduled: Local artist Sophie Pleshette started to teach a weekly Art Class with the goal to create pieces that our young people will paint on utility boxes along Hollywood Blvd. This project is supported by the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council (HUNC).

    We will also be holding a Career Planning Class where anyone can learn tips from writing a resumé to interview techniques.

    Every month – in partnership with Wash on Western Laundry – we sponsor a Free Laundry Night where homeless people can do some of their laundry for free.

    All of these and other events can be found on the Calendar Page of our website.

  • Our donation drive Winter Is Coming – Give & Win was a big success. Valda Lake, owner of Wallspace L.A. had opened the doors of her gallery for us, providing a space for our supporters to stop by and drop off their donations. All in all, we received 96 sleeping bags, 18 tents and 25 tarps. Amazing!

     

    We thank anyone who donated from the bottom of our hearts!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A big thank you also to DJ Cherish The Luv who came all the way from NY to spin awesome tunes for us!

     

     

    With the temperatures recently dropping to the low 40s at night and the strong Santa Ana winds blowing tents away, there was no time to dilly-dally.

     

    We immediately started to distribute the donations to those in need, and it was not difficult to find happy takers.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you would like to support us in helping homeless men and women of Los Angeles to sleep less rough at night, please consider donating a sleeping bag via our Amazon Wish List. We gladly accept them any day of the year.

     

  • Earlier this week, I saw a post on Facebook by my friend Greens. He wrote that he was looking for help with organizing and preparing a Thanksgiving meal for the young homeless community in Hollywood. Greens used to be one of them. He spent years of his life on the street, struggling with addiction. With the support from others, he was finally able to get out of homelessness. Now 27, Greens has a home, a girlfriend and a job. And he wants to give back.

    We were more than happy to team up with him. Many of the kids he used to hang out with are still on the streets, and we have come to know them as guests at our monthly Free Laundry Nights.

    Since Greens didn’t know where to serve the meal yet, we reached out to Andrew, the Director of Operations at the Hollywood Adventist Church, to ask if we could set up on the church’s parking lot. Not only did he agree right away, he actually offered us to use their banquet hall and kitchen, as well as tables and chairs.

    The outside of the banquet hall of the Hollywood Adventist Church

    Matt and A Million Drops board member Denise setting up the buffet

    Matt’s 81 year old mom came to help. In the background, Andrew (right) talking to our first guest, Shane

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It was such a last minute idea, we had just one day to get it all done, but it worked out beautifully. Greens and his girlfriend Clarissa cooked two turkeys, his friends Matt and Amanda prepared the side dishes, A Million Drops’ members Scott and Denise baked bread and apple cobbler, and we used some of the money that was donated to us to buy apple cider, and things like table cloths, plates, cups etc.

    The first guests arrived at 1:30, and for the next 2 hours more kept coming. We fed about 25 young people (and a couple of dogs), and they all got to take to go bags with them as well. We sat down with them, and got the chance to learn a little bit about their lives. Most of them have an email account, and we exchanged contact info so we will be able to stay in touch. Now they can reach out to us with special needs, like sleeping bags or toiletries, and we can let them know about upcoming events, like our monthly Free Laundry Nights.

    Some of our guests, enjoying their meal

    At the end of the day, one of our guests discovered the piano in the back of the room and he played for us while we started to pack and clean up.

    Brian played for us

    It was a special day; we are thankful that Greens reached out to us about participating, and we are especially thankful to the Hollywood Adventist Church for letting us use their banquet hall on such short notice.

  • Our sixth art show, Unsheltered VI, featuring works by homeless, at-risk youth and young adults, was a big success. Taking place at prestigious hair salon Ramos Carreon – owned by Emmy winning stylist Robert Ramon and Philip Carreon – , the event attracted a steady flow of visitors and we had a full house all night.

    The show included 34 pieces as colorful and diverse as the ten young artists who created them: Altitude Abstrakt, Andrew Washington, Darrel DJ Morgan, Jess Barlass, Kris Williams, Leahcim Robinson, Marquze Killion, Morgan Movesaround, Neil Massey, Wolfgang Meesenburg.

    Artists Leah, Andrew, Altitude Abstrakt and Neil (left to right)

    Artists Andrew (left) and Marquze (right)

    AMD founder Maike with set decorator Jean Simone who bought this piece by Marquze Killion

    Richard Gibson (center), owner of Ted Gibson Frames, helped with framing some of the art

    Two of our guests studying the show catalog

    Salon Owner Philip Carreon (left) and salon manager Rowena Ajero

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We were happy to see people connecting with old friends and making new ones.

    The hors d’oeuvres, a  donation by Robert Ramos’ husband, Alejandro Zavala 

    Our wonderful bartender Manuela made sure that the glasses were always full

    DJ Cherish The Luv had come all the way from New York to support us, and her feel good music put a smile on people’s faces.It felt more like being at a party with friends than at a formal art show reception.

    DJ Cherish The Luv enjoying the view

    DJ Cherish The Luv’s view from the balcony

     

    A Million Drops board members Ross Dodds, Preston Johnson, Denise Grisco, Maike Both and Don W. Neil

    And most importantly: People loved the art! At the end of the day, 26 of pieces had been sold (UPDATE: the additional 8 pieces have sold since), and proceeds went 100% to the artists and towards art supplies.Thank you to everyone who supported us, first of all to Robert Ramos and Phillip Carreon who opened the door of their salon for us; to DJ Cherish The Luv for giving her time, love and talent making people feel happy and at home; to Johnny Cornwell for letting us use his sound system for free; and last but not least to the young, dedicated people who in spite of difficult circumstances, created beautiful art. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome, and we are looking forward to Unsheltered VII.

     

  • Art by Homeless, At-Risk Youth and Young Adults

    by Jess Barlass

    The sixth Unsheltered art show is going to take place on September 30th in Hollywood. We sat down with A Million Drops founder Maike Both to learn more about the idea behind it.

    AMD: “We created Unsheltered in 2015 to provide a platform for talented young artists who happen to be homeless. The exhibition received such positive feedback from both, the artists as well as the audience, that we decided to make it a regular part of AMD’s programs. Since then, we have organized five shows: at a gallery, a restaurant, open air events and even a laundromat. In July, we began to look for the next location, a place with an ambiance that was unexpected and different from the ordinary and ideally have its own audience.” And then, a wonderful discovery. At an event, Maike met Robert Ramos, Emmy nominated hair stylist, and c0-owner of prestigious celebrity hair salon Ramos Carreon. Maike approached him and his business partner, Philip Carreon, with the idea of hosting an art show at their salon. Both were immediately excited, and the vision came together quickly.

    One of the young artists whose work will be part of the upcoming show is Neil Massey, who has participated in Unsheltered since its conception in 2015. Earlier this year, AMD was able to sell several of his raw, powerful pieces to a Hollywood prop house, and they are now featured on the set of the 2017 movie, Home Again, as well as in seven nation-wide commercials. “We are thrilled to be able to help these talented young people get the exposure they deserve,” says Maike Both.

    The upcoming show includes works by ten artists, many of whom have been on board since 2015. “We’re like a little family, we stay in touch and try to give support in any way we can. ”

    If you enjoy behind-the-scenes info for AMD’s events and programs, please stay tuned to the website.

  • For the past four years, we organized public, day-long events to celebrate UTW Day. We invited local organizations that are about positive local actions and provided them with a platform. We had live music, real time video calls with people in other countries having their official UTW Day events, and raffles raising money for A Million Drops.

    This year, we did something completely different. We practiced what UTW stands for: Positive. Local. Action. On UTW Day 2017, we gave a make-over to 2nd Chance For Sobriety, a sober living house in Los Angeles.

    Sober living instead of prison time

    2nd Chance For Sobriety is a small, inconspicuous building on South Western. Nothing on the outside gives away what is going on inside, and one would never guess that the house is the (temporary) home for seventy men ages 20 to 45. Before they moved here, these men were doing time in County jail or prison for drug related charges. A program created by the city of L.A. looks for candidates that qualify to finish their sentences at 2nd Chance, giving them the chance for recovery. One of the criteria to get this opportunity is to have no prior convictions for violence.

    Darrel, a young homeless man, is one of the residents who currently live at 2nd Chance.  A Million Drops had been supporting him for a while when he was arrested last year. After he had spent two months in jail,  the judge sent him to 2nd Chance. With nothing tocall his own but the clothes on his body, and his cellphone, Darrel reached out to AMD director Maike and asked for help. A few days later she went to visit him for the first time.

    Sitting next to Darrel in the Visitation Room, Maike couldn’t help but notice the peeling paint and sad decor, and she wondered how anybody was supposed to find the strength to make a positive life change in such a depressing environment.

    An idea was born

    Working as a set decorator in tv and film, Maike knew how easily a space can be transformed, and what started just as an idea quickly became a plan. With the help of her network, the vision was put on paper, a project presentation was created to help reach out to potential donors and volunteers. The goal was to beautify three areas – the Visitation Room, the Dining Area and the Back Yard.

    BEFORE: three areas were chosen to receive a makeover

    Visitation Room: Before

    Dining Area: Before

    Back Yard: Before

     

     

    Getting ready

    Leading up to UTW Day, our team spent weeks planning, fund raising and asking for help with needed items and materials. The support was incredible. Individuals and companies followed our call and supported the project with monetary and in-kind donations. (Please see the list below). And then it was finally time to get to work.

     

    DURING: Volunteers and residents, working together, side by side

    On UTW Day, team members, volunteers and residents worked tirelessly from 7 am to 7 pm. Together, we were able to completely transform the space. The emphasis is on ‘together’!

    Two volunteers are building benches for the Visitation Room

    Volunteers, management and residents working together

    Three sun sails were the perfect addition for the back yard

    Working with plants can be very therapeutical

    Painting the Visitation Room

    These planter boxes were made from old pallets

    A deck was the only way to create a straight surface for furniture

    It was great to see how throughout the day,  more and more of the residents got involved.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    They painted, they planted a vegetable garden; they helped move furniture around and made suggestions for improvements that our team had not thought of.

    THE RESULTS: Better than the vision

    The results are fantastic, not only were we able to create the look of the mock-up pictures we put in the presentation, we actually made it look even better. At the end of the day, everyone, volunteers as well as residents and management, was blown away. The whole experience was so inspiring for everyone involved that we are already talking about what we can do next.

    After: The Dining Area

    After: The Back Yard

    After: The Visitation Room

     

    OUR DONORS

    A heartfelt thank you the generous donors who made this project possible!
    Alley Cats Props
    Alpha Medical Props
    Elevated Deck Systems
    Faux Library Studio Props
    Ralph Fowler
    Green Set Inc.
    Hand Prop Room
    Gary Hidalgo/NCIS
    Hollywood Studio Gallery
    Hollywood Trophy Co.
    Lennie Marvin’s Prop Heaven
    Al Limon
    Mark’s Paint Shop
    Nest Studio Rentals
    Objects Fine Set Decorations
    Omega Cinema Props
    Practical Props
    RC Vintage
    Simply Discount Furniture
    The Home Depot

  • UTW Day is celebrated annually in countries around the globe, introducing individuals and groups who take positive action in their communities, spreading awareness and inspiring others to join.

    The 5th annual UTW Day will take place on Saturday, June 2017. Here in L.A., we are going to give a make-over to a sober living house called 2nd Chance For Sobriety. At any given time, seventy men ages 20 to 60 live at 2nd Chance for up to a year, many of them by court order.

    Darrel, a young homeless man whom we have supported for a couple of years is one of them. When AMD’s director/UTW Day producer Maike went to visit him at 2nd Chance, all she could think of was how sad and depressing the place looked, and she wondered how anybody could possibly get sober in such an environment.

    Working in set decoration on tv shows and feature films, Maike knew how easy one can make a space look completely different. She decided to reach out to her friend, production designer Denise Pizzini, who immediately loved the idea. Together they went to visit the rehab to figure out what could be done with little money in just one day. Denise created an amazing mood board, visualizing the beautification of three areas – the Visitation Room, the Dining Area and the Back Yard.