“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”
I grew up in Boca Raton, Florida. In those days, everybody’s dad was a doctor, lawyer, or owned something big. Think 90210 but Jewish. I was fortunate to have everything I ever asked for and lived my life accordingly. To sum it up, I was selfish, vain, and without a care in the world.
I came out on my 21st birthday, which was around the time I discovered circuit parties. With the music, the men, and the drugs, I found my calling and I was hooked. In 2000, I lost my mother. Coincidentally, that was also the year crystal meth became the popular drug, and like many of my brethren, I was hooked. I went from being a socialite to a daily meth user who didn’t leave his condo for months at a time; I became a statistic. Eventually depression, overdose, and a botched suicide attempt led my family to put me in rehab.
At age 36, I found myself, a sober man, living in Los Angeles with nothing to do but reflect on a life of pure indulgence. I had nothing to show for any of it except a lot of great stories and a lot of pictures with my eyes bugged out. This led to a very dark time in my life filled with self-loathing and shame. Even though I had no direction, I knew that God had spared me for a reason. I had survived drugs, a suicide attempt, and found out in rehab that I was HIV negative (which was miracle in itself). I had made it when many of my brothers hadn’t. I also realized how oblivious I had been up to that point. Coming from my blessed life in Boca Raton, where everything was pink and pristine, I had been sheltered from what the rest of the world goes through. Moving to Los Angeles was an eye-opening experience. I saw that in the real world, people weren’t as fortunate as I was. That realization drove me, at age 40, to do something with my life.
Someone once told me, “You only get what you give back.” That resonated with my sensibilities. Believe me, with the way I had lived my life up to that point, I had a lot of giving to do. I started doing anything I could to help others, mostly simple tasks such as writing a check to an AIDS organization or giving someone a ride. Being of service to others made me feel good and gave me purpose. I also started researching ways to volunteer. The gratification I received from volunteering a couple times a week was rewarding, but it wasn’t enough; I wanted to do more. At that point, I had several people come to me and say, “I see what you’re doing and have always wanted to volunteer but don’t know how to go about it.” That was how The Los Angeles Service Club (LASC) came about.
LASC’s primary goal is to provide volunteers for different organizations and events, showing others how to volunteer. Our members come together once a month to help organizations with various things, from building a room for a sober house, to running a bowl-a-thon, to raising money for homeless teens. I am currently working with the AIDS walk of Los Angeles. The coordinators told me they have never had this many people come to volunteer before, and it was all because of me! Organizations are now callin and asking me to help them. It makes me happy to know that I am helping people on a grand scale, and showing others how to be of service.
I believe that with LASC, I have finally made my mark in life.