Leo Fink said he got “a ton of money” for his Bar Mitzvah on May 21, and the 13-year-old Carmel Valley resident wanted some of it to go toward helping people less fortunate.
“I thought it would be really cool to donate it to the San Diego Rescue Mission,” he said after handing an $1,800 check to Donnie Dee, president and CEO of the homeless service provider.
“I was encouraged and inspired that someone of his age is so conscious of what’s going on in our city,” Dee said. “Everyone knows we have a homeless crisis, and here’s a 13-year-old kid giving his time and his resources to help an organization.”
Leo and his mother, Jessica Fink, already volunteer at the downtown mission, where they help serve meals every couple of weeks and distributed clothes during this year’s Easter celebration.
“He’s grown up with a lot of comfort and a lot of privileges, and it’s easy to forget how lucky you are,” his mother said.
While Leo seemed uncomfortable at first, Fink said she was impressed by how he learned to navigate his way around the new environment and interact with people experiencing homelessness at the mission.
“I get a lot out of it,” Leo said about his volunteer work. “It helps me appreciate people and treat them with dignity. Homeless people are still out there, and we have to treat them like everybody else. Everybody deserves to be treated with respect and like a human being.”
As part of that philosophy, Leo said he likes to make eye contact and smile when he meets homeless people.
“It could really just make their day,” he said about the gesture, recognizing that homeless people often feel ignored by people around them.