I’m still relatively new to this division. It’s been a challenge but I’m working with a great team. One of my first assignments was to make a Site Visit at a non-profit that is located in a city owned facility – the LAMP Community. LAMP is located in an area in downtown which, as you know, has a large homeless population.
When I first got to LAMP, I remembered how long it had been since I had spent any time in the skid row area. Years before I briefly worked out of a homeless shelter there – the Weingart Center. Maybe it was me – but I don’t remember Skid Row in the mid 90s being as crowded or as sad as it made me feel when I parked my car in front of LAMP for my visit a few weeks ago – many men, my age and younger, sitting or sleeping on the sidewalks, looking lost and for lack of a better word, without a home or family to be with.
I felt better after my visit inside of LAMP. The shelter had a warm, safe feel to it. I sat in the lobby with some of the residents, watching a movie in the reception area while I waited to meet with Maribel Gutierrez, Director of Operations. The impression I got from the residents was that they were grateful to be here.
Maribel gave me a tour of the facility and I continued to feel impressed – with the cleanliness of the facility; with the programs they offer it’s residents and with the care displayed by all of the staff I observed with their interactions with it’s residents. This was when I noticed the “HomeWalk 2014” poster and remembered that I wanted now, more than ever, to make a donation to one of our staff who was going to take time from her busy schedule to “walk the walk” – my supervisor Debi Wood.
As I returned to my car after the visit, I took a drive through these impoverished areas of downtown LA and wondered how a city so wealthy and vibrant could have such a large number of people with no place of their own. How so many of these, mostly men, but also women could be enjoying their lives with family and friends. But for whatever reasons, they were now living in the streets.
Fortunately, there IS hope. LAMP community represents one of these hopes. But a lot more can be done.
While listening to the presentations at this mornings All Staff Meeting, I thought about how fortunate my life has been. My family was poor; but when there was not enough food, we could always count on our extended family or neighbors to give us food; on cousins to give us their outgrown clothes; and on the care and help of the schools – where I was able to get enough free aid to go to college and move on with my life. So many of the people I met on my brief visit to skid row have not had these types of fortunes fall their way. Times have changed. So it is up to people like us to help out when and where we can. I feel fortunate that I was able to make this donation. Hopefully others as fortunate will feel the same way and pass it along.