Maxine Sealey is the incredible woman behind Sharing Love with Others, a non-profit organization that aims to “enhance the quality of life of the less fortunate” on Skid Row, by providing clothing, hot meals, water, medical services, and more every Saturday.
In 2004, facing personal financial hardship, Maxine found herself visiting various churches that offered free food in order to feed herself.
Eventually, she decided to ask her Pastor about setting up a food distribution program for the homeless. When her Pastor agreed, Sealey became the director of a new program that distributed food and clothes to anyone that wanted it, no matter her background. The program lasted for roughly three years.
When the program ended, Sealey continued to offer donated clothing and furniture to those who were recently housed or moving from one place to the next.
“I became very passionate [about] helping this group of people,” Sealey told DTLA Weekly. “I started to volunteer with different organizations that serve the homeless community and I realized that something was missing. I was not able to develop a relationship with the people I met — we would just hand them the food and items and they would leave. I wanted to connect with them, get to know them by name, and make them feel special — I wanted them to know me.”
Sealey’s mother, who has since passed away, was a major inspiration for her to begin Sharing Love With Others, which was founded in March of 2019. “My mom and I would have many conversations about my experience volunteering and she would encourage me to follow my heart and continue serving the community… [she said] the homeless are human beings, someone’s child… they need to be treated as such.”
Every Saturday, Sharing Love with Others feeds 400 homeless people with hot meals prepared by Sealey herself. Additionally, SLWO provides hygiene, blankets, and gently used clothing, and once a month, SLWO volunteers and friends walk around Skid Row and help clean the streets.
When asked how Sealey and her team dealt with the pandemic, Sealey said they pushed through. She recalls that the homeless community did not realize there was a pandemic at the beginning and had not been educated on the dangers of COVID-19. Sealey and her team did their best to educate and hand out hand sanitizers and more personal care products. She did not want the homeless community to feel “abandoned” with a sudden lack of services and resources.
“We have not missed one Saturday since we started in March 2019,” she told DTLA Weekly. “The community looks forward to us being there for them every Saturday.”
An important aspect of what SLWO does is to provide comfort and love to those who need it, which Sealey said are necessities just like food and water. This is where the name Sharing Love With Others came from. “We are on a mission to provide friendship, love, and a listening ear to everyone who wants it,” said Sealey.
While SWLO has received a lot of support from caring members of the community, she stated the organization has not received much help from outsiders.
“We are hoping that more celebrities and large corporations will notice the work that SLWO is doing in the community and help us in order for us to continue the work we do.”
Sealey says that despite all of the work they do for the homeless, they have not received any help from the city. “We have not yet been recognized by the city, I don’t know if the City even knows about SLWO.”
Sealey says mental health is a big part of helping the homeless community. “It would be effective if the City would offer resources for mental health treatment and affordable housing. It would not solve the problem, but it would help.”
Sharing Love With Others does the most they can do in terms of mental health: “From time to time, we partner with medical professionals to provide mental health assessment and treatment and also AIDS testing,” said Sealey.
By offering a shoulder to lean on, a hot meal, and a warm conversation, Sealey’s organization is already helping the mental health of thousands on Skid Row.
“My love for the people… keeps me motivated,” Sealey said. “No matter what, everyone deserves to eat.”
Sharing Love With Others relies on volunteers and private donations to help the homeless. The organization has an Amazon wishlist that includes blankets, sleeping bags, tents, food products, and personal hygiene items. Cash donations can be made through CashApp at $sharinglove2019.