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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“We want to go beyond just contributing manpower to a soup kitchen; we want to give something back to the volunteers,” Irving said.
Irving loves checking the news feed of the JCorp’s Facebook page—its main marketing tool — following each event, to see volunteers become “friends.”
JCorps also has allowed him to realize another dream.
“I felt like I was a leader but didn’t give myself enough opportunities to use my leadership skills, and because the opportunities weren’t given to me in Los Angeles, whether professionally or socially, I thought why not give it to myself and work my way to becoming a leader in the Jewish community of Los Angeles. And that’s what I strive to be.”
For more info, visit la.jcorps.org.