The I.L.M. (Intellect-Love-Mercy) Foundation, for the last 19 years actively converts charity into education and direct service events, for Humanitarian Day (HDAY) projects. Our network the Coalition to Preserve Human Dignity (CPHD,) is where we facilitate volunteers and organizations through the four points of Situational Leadership (Delegate, Direct, Coach, Support) for community service.

Our formula is to convert charity into “Awareness-Advocacy-Action.” An appropriate anthem and a call to action! A message that alert volunteers and organizations to put faith into action; so we can provide Neighborly Needs to the homeless around the city. Southern California’s homeless crisis has become an emergency, in need of relevant solutions. In 2017 ILM tested a new service model developed through Design Thinking; which is a process that solve complex problems through its five modes: “Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.” Since 1998, not only have ILM learned but you will find us teaching and consulting on the core essence of community service. Now in the 21st Century we needed to re-invent the way we serve communities.

We started our design challenge with the following question, “What is Humanitarian Day?”  We charted the answers, so we could emphasize everything and move our volunteers and stakeholders into next steps of design. Looking to define all the newly captured information; the mode of defining revealed ideas for us to now ponder  and reach for new possibilities of service. Our objective is to (1) create a model that would appease the local politics and (2) still serve its innate purpose to deliver charity. (3) Ensure the volunteer experience remains intact, and (4) expand the networking or outreach that would develop new community partners.

HDAY has been an effective and impacting  strategy since 2000, so by 2016 it needed a change. Not a total re-iteration, but a new design that would not lose its surreal experience and its rewards. Entering next steps to Ideate the many potential definitions of service. We re-imagined the challenge question which developed, more defined questions that would lead us, to a new standard in community service:

  • How can we maintain the volunteer and donor’s experience?
  • How can we increase the network and acquire relevant local agencies?
  • And how to directly deliver our services, a method that would not generate protest?

Since 2000 the HDAY model was simply based on (A) an on-site orientation for volunteers, (B) give motivating instructions that would ensure a positive and synergistic day of  production line distribution. Today that HDAY model of public direct service can come in conflict with local politics and neighbors. It was in our best interest to rethink direct service and how charities can properly serve homeless populations but still respectfully observe the local standard.

True Story: In 2018, there was a high profiled protest in Orange County (OC) called, “Not In My Back Yard” nicknamed NIBMY. Where local homeowners pushed-back on city officials’ plans to relocate homelessness camps and develop nearby shelters. Subsequently, OC began showing signs of its homeless population growing. We noticed this growth in 2015, that homelessness in Orange County is beginning to resemble homelessness in Los Angeles County.  The homeless in Los Angeles rose to 23%  of people actively living without shelter, from 11% the previous year. These events inspire us to reiterate our approach; so we can be even more effective in difficult times. We needed to ideate our defined drafts and then create a prototype; a solid experience for volunteers but an efficient service model that would provide necessities. Enhancing this yearly event we needed to raise its service standards, comply with any new homelessness policy, and avoid protesting NIMBies.

During 2017 we tested a new model (Prototype) and introduced it as “Awareness-Advocacy-Action #AAA.” This design will sustain our efforts and enhance the volunteer experience.  Expanding on the practices of coalition building to revolve more around community organizing. We intentionally encourage more 1-2-1’s with related agencies and local organizers; to create and increase new relationships. The new HDAY model was officially launched in 2018, at a local mosque (Islamic Center of Santa Ana) in Orange County, who in 2017 had graciously opened their doors for testing the service’s prototype.

The Impact of #HDAY2018AAA …

  • The model now includes a component for Dialogue, about social issues which heightens the volunteers’ Awareness (the Art Story-telling) about community based issues. HDAY in partnership with NewGround Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change, who facilitated an interactive discussion between volunteers. This dialogue included different interfaith communities to build bridges that would be rooted in service. Potentially helping the City of Orange and its communities provide care for the homelessness.
  • It also contains Advocacy learning tools, on how to get more involved with community organizing and why it’s important to address local civic policies; that affect the community’s health, security, and protection.
  • The Action of ILM’s strategic planning over the last 4 years in Orange County helped to established (1) new partnerships with two of OC’s most active shelters, (2) Double previous target numbers, from serving 150 to 800 recipients with fresh meals, medical care, and more. An action of leadership to inspire a social impact.

ILM Foundation is now planning re-imagining community accountability and economic empowerment, so we can continue to share our experience with other organizations. We will utilize our will and ability, to organize the CPHD and build a 21st Century  Community-Based Organization for Los Angeles. In the meanwhile, we will continue to train individuals and develop groups through our Community Accountability Labs; which is an education on how to be more aware and remain relevant while approaching California’s future.

For more information about Design Thinking, please contact INKERIJ [pronounced as Encourage] for leadership development. Learn more with  Umar Hakim []

The following video reflects our design results, as we captured a surreal experience; so please share this open source project with others. #AAAHDAY

“ILM Foundation’s mission is to teach life skills to economically underprivileged youth and adults so that social ills are replaced with opportunities for intellectual and economic empowerment, so we can divert youth and adults away from the criminal justice system.”