In 2013, shortly before our 1st Annual Unfuck The World Day, UTW founder Maike organized a series of events in Downtown L.A. benefitting the homeless population of Skid Row. This experience led to her bringing together a team of volunteers to provide regular support to at-risk youth and young adults experiencing homelessness in her own neighborhood of Hollywood.
She quickly realized that in order to do this officially, she needed to file for 501(c)3 status. Choosing the name for the non-profit was easy. Maike is often asked, “What can I do to unfuck the world? Everything is just a drop in a bucket.” She will always answer, “Every drop counts and will make a difference. And together, we will be a million drops.” In October 2013, A Million Drops was granted tax exempt status by the IRS.
A Million Drops’ Story
A Million Drops started with providing direct, uncomplicated support to individuals in need it, from helping with preparing for a job interview by taking them to the barber or clothes shopping, to making phone calls to find out how we can help someone replace a lost birth certificate.
A Million Drops offered monthly Free Laundry Nights at a local laundromat, giving at-risk youth and young adults experiencing homelessness the opportunity to wash their clothes, blankets and sleeping bags. A Million Drops provided coins, detergent and, if wanted, assistance with washing and folding.
Unsheltered, at a Laundromat in Hollywood
A Million Drops also curated ‘Unsheltered’, a series of art shows featuring works by youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. These shows, that took place in a wide variety of locations, from actual art galleries to laundromats and hair salons, were much appreciated by guests and artists alike!
In 2017, the AMD team planned to buy a little, retired school bus and convert it into the A Million Drops Outreach Bus to more effectively provide services.
The little bus that turned into….
However, a few months later, the opportunity came up to rent a small space in the heart of Hollywood, and the vision of a little bus became the A Million Drops Learning Center.
The Learning Center opened its doors in June 2018. Mondays through Fridays, volunteers offered workshops, from Anger Management and Self-Improvement to Poetry, Edible Gardening, Podcasting and Improv & Acting. A free in-house library and laptops for research were available, and each student received a free meal – often prepared by one of the students – and toiletries, socks and underwear, if needed.
… the A Million Drops Learning Center!
Instead of offering monthly free Laundry Nights, A Million Drops started to provide free laundry vouchers, allowing the recipients to wash their clothes any day of the week. Through collaboration with the landlord, the students also had the opportunity to shower on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The unique concept of the A Million Drops Learning Center received a lot of recognition, and more and more donations came in to help paying rent as well as small salaries to the managers, all people experiencing homelessness.
Nevertheless, in January 2020, after giving her spare time and energy for almost two years, UTW and A Million Drops founder Maike decided to step back and take a break from the immense responsibilities that came with running the Learning Center. The Center closed its doors. However, the AMD team continues to offer free laundry vouchers; they also provide specifically tailored support to some of the individuals experiencing homelessness who used to be students, guests or teachers at the Learning Center.