In 2008, Adam Irving, a filmmaker and photographer, left his doctoral program in media studies at the University of Texas to make the transition from theory to practice. He landed in Hollywood with the dream of making films, but soon after his arrival found himself feeling unfulfilled by the vanity within the entertainment industry.
“Most of the work I do is serious, introspective documentary films about important issues — so overall, it’s very fulfilling — but there are aspects of my work, like working in reality television and doing model shoots, where I’m just making beautiful people look good,” Irving said.
Earlier this year, in part to connect with people who possess a passion for giving rather than a passion for being famous, he spearheaded the Los Angeles branch of JCorps, an international, nondenominational social volunteer force for young adults ages 18 to 28.
“I thought, what could be better than giving back and volunteering, which is one of the most selfless, fulfilling acts you can do,” Irving said. “It’s the polar opposite of chasing celebrities around Hollywood Boulevard.”
JCorps’ headquarters in New York provided some seed money, but Irving raised additional funds from family and relatives in his hometown of Toronto so he could expand operations even more.
Together with the chapter’s co-director, Rebecca Pasternak, he organized their first meet-up last September at the Midnight Mission shelter in Skid Row, where 20 volunteers fed 100 meals to the homeless. Since then, they’ve cleaned up beaches and sent packages to American troops. Earlier this month, they gave away clothing to more than 3,000 people at the National Council for Jewish Women Thrift Shop on North Fairfax Avenue, followed by kibitzing at Schwartz Bakery down the street. Each of the events is usually topped off with time to socialize over a meal at a local hangout.
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