California – Los Angeles: Bruin Shelter

Jordan Vega

Jordan Vega is a rising junior pursuing a major in Business Economics and a minor in Public Health. Coming from a family of nurses, he hopes to one day follow their footsteps into the same field. His family’s work has impacted not only his career goals but also his own personal values and interests. He explains that the compassion they show for others both inside and outside of nursing has taught him “the importance of helping those in need and the gravity of elevating the broader community.” Putting his words to action, Vega has been continuing his service with Bruin Shelter this summer as their new Director of Resources.

 

The first of its kind in the nation, Bruin Shelter is a student-run shelter for students experiencing housing insecurity in Greater Los Angeles. This nonprofit entered Vega’s life a little over a year ago in the spring of 2016. While on campus, he passed through an activities fair and happened to stop by the Bruin Shelter table, where he learned about the epidemic of youth homelessness affecting his own community and peers. Having helplessly witnessed a friend experience housing insecurity as a child, Vega found this cause resonating with him as he now had the power and abilities to serve students in similar situations. From helping set up the shelter to serving as a Supervisor, Jordan has assembled beds, organized supplies, and cooked meals for their student residents. Though Vega appreciated these experiences of interacting with residents, learning their stories and growing family-like bonds, he was ready to utilize his unique skill set to further the shelter’s reach and capacity this summer.



As the new Director of Resources, he has been responsible of managing donor engagement and individual and corporate partnerships. Specifically, he is working to involve Bruin Shelter in this year’s Westwood Village Block Party, an end of the summer event to help new incoming UCLA freshman and transfer students explore our local college town. In addition to closing down streets, the block party also arranges special discounts and deals with local vendors and businesses for student attendees. Vega hopes that this is where he can find a space for Bruin Shelter.

 

By coordinating with these participating businesses and the Westwood Improvement Association, he hopes that Bruin Shelter can acquire a portion of their proceeds from this night. As a newly established nonprofit, they are still in need of funds to continue supporting their day-to-day operations. These funds would help the shelter sustain their rent payments as well as food, cleaning, and hygiene supplies along with upcoming shelter installations. For example, one of their main upcoming goals is to get a washer and dryer installed for their residents. Overall Vega hopes to continue supporting the shelter’s residents by giving them the basic resources and human rights they need and deserve.



Though many relationships are established or in the pipeline, Vega finds his first foray into these discussions with California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) in Westwood the most memorable. He shares that after discussing Bruin Shelter in a meeting with their general manager, she was ready and eager to partner with his cause. Through his efforts, Bruin Shelter secured 20% of CPK’s proceeds from the block party. Though Vega admits reaching out to these businesses and creating relationships with them is not always easy, he has found that the key is being friendly, concise, and persistent. Now his upcoming efforts are moving towards advertising. For the rest of the summer, he plans to help spread awareness of the Westwood Village Block Party and market the businesses working together with Bruin Shelter. Furthermore, he will begin coordinating efforts for the day of the block party where Bruin Shelter student volunteers can help table and assist their partner businesses.

 

Though ultimately giving back to his community, Vega has also seen himself learning and growing from this experience. He explains that as a shy person, this role has allowed him to develop his own confidence and social skills. Above all, this summer with Bruin Shelter has made Vega realize the power of community. “The most pleasant surprise for me is getting to see how many businesses and people care so much about youth homelessness as to want to donate proceeds and help support Bruin Shelter,” said Vega. “It’s so heartwarming and immensely humbling.”

If you’d like to get involved or have any questions, you can contact Jordan at advocacy.bruinshelter@gmail.com or visit Bruin Shelter’s website.

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