David Miller is a United Way Campaign Associate. He outreaches to organizations in the community, sharing about United Way’s mission and promoting the work of initiatives like Home For Good. He shares the stories of our providers and clients with those he meets and now shares with us why he will be participating in HomeWalk on November 23.
Living in traffic-heavy Los Angeles, I use the freeway on my commute to work. Each day, I get off at the same exit and see someone asking for money at end of the off ramp. Seeing these people makes me wonder, how many millions of drivers pass them by without blinking an eye? How many people turn away to avoid them entirely?
I don’t know the answer to these unfortunate questions. What I do know is that I would not want to be in that situation myself, and NO ONE should have to live like that. There are far too many people in LA County in need of shelter, food and clothing. Far too many people, continuing to be unseen and even avoided at freeway off-ramps.
The United Way’s annual HomeWalk is one way in which we can all make a difference in the lives of these people. Together, we can create solutions and support programs working to end homelessness in LA County. I am participating in HomeWalk to help raise money and awareness on this pressing issue because something needs to be done, and something can be done.
Why do I walk? I walk for a day when there will be no more homeless people at freeway off ramps.
Join David in his efforts to change LA by signing up for HomeWalk at www.homewalkla.org! Together we can end homelessness!
What were you doing before joining the United Way?
My background is in public interest law. Over the past decade, I have worked on issues related to land use, the environment, and international development. This work allowed me to share concerns with various decision-makers, from the Los Angeles City Council to the U.S. Supreme Court. Most recently I did this work through my consulting practice, Sustainable Vision Consulting. Before that, I was at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Strumwasser & Woocher LLP, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Why are you interested in working to end chronic and Veteran homelessness in LA County?
I care deeply about issues related to poverty and that passion has been a constant thread throughout all of my work. We have a wonderful opportunity to provide permanent supportive housing to some of the hardest to house and, in doing so, help improve individual lives and our community as a whole.
What are you most excited about in your new role as Program Officer?
Our Home for Good plan is incredibly effective and has achieved real, measurable results. I am excited to be part of such an inspiring initiative, with a talented team of people who believe in the work.
Do you have any hobbies that people would find unexpected?
I have many hobbies but will give you just three: (1) I go hiking every weekend in Griffith Park – I love seeing the mountains, ocean, and city in one large expanse; (2) I belong to two book clubs – we read books ranging in topic from mythology to world politics; and (3) I love to travel – my favorite destinations are Hawaii, Argentina, Morocco, and Turkey.
I did not know how the saga of looking out of my 5th floor window watching the homeless people in the alley would play out. At first, it was just to see who came and went and how their little community grew. Then, I realized that it’s amazing how attached one becomes to the people. I worried about them being in the cold at night, especially when it rained. I kept telling myself they would be fine.
One day, I noticed the police and a sanitation truck tearing down their encampment. I was outraged so I called my co-worker Alisa Orduña, who is part of the Home For Good team, and asked her to come and bear witness because I knew there was an injunction against this move. She emailed her connection and the harassment stopped for a while.
Outside our building, I have seen a lady in a wheelchair with her little black dog asking for handouts. They seem so attached to one another. I recently found out that she is part of the alley encampment outside my window. Wanting to know more about the situation, I again asked Alisa if she knew anyone that could help. She got me in touch with Caitlin DiMaina from Community Solutions and we scheduled to meet and take a walk through the alley. The week before we were to meet, the camp was torn down again by LAPD. On Monday, we took a walk through anyway, just to see if there was anyone that could give us info on the people and their whereabouts. We spoke to a gentleman that worked in one of the buildings but, he seemed reluctant to get too involved. As we walked, Caitlin shared that she was familiar with Nouella-the lady in the wheelchair. Finally, a name to a face!
I’m happy I got involved because I feel that everyone deserves to be acknowledged and to know that someone cares about them. Caitlin will be trying to help Nouella and her dog find permanent housing. I hope that everything works out for both of them and the others. It takes a village but, one person can make a difference!
Jackie Berryhill a Receptionist at United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
A few weeks ago, I attended my first ever Homeless Count and joined a team in South Los Angeles that dispatched out of Holman Methodist Church. It felt great to participate in an effort to benefit my community, especially one that proved to be such a rewarding experience.
I didn’t know what to expect and was nervous about what I had gotten myself into by signing up for the Count. Was it worth the hours of sleep I’d be losing by being out, past midnight? After all, homelessness is not an issue that I’d ever taken the time to learn about, nor had I made an effort to help solve. Still, there I was, sitting in a room with thirty other volunteers- waiting to do something about it.
I was assigned to a team made up of members from the Holman congregation, an LA County Administrator, and the pastor of The Redeemed Christian Church of God. Our team hopped in a van and deployed to the neighborhood where I grew up, and where my mother and family still live. We counted homeless people near King Elementary and King Park, the school I attended and park I played in as a kid. We drove past the gas stations, laundry mats, restaurants, shopping centers, and motels where homeless people sleep- counting them, one by one. There were people living in mobile homes, tents, and make shift beds. There were people using drugs in alleys or roaming the streets aimlessly.
Although I grew up seeing a lot of homeless people, this experience gave me an opportunity to see them from a different place- a more human place. Homelessness was normal for me and I’m sure it is for others in South Los Angeles. These are the people we found asking for change outside the restaurants, supermarkets, liquor stores, and gas stations. The same people sleeping on sidewalks or bus benches- those we stepped over as we hurried to school or walked to the park. They were (and still are) so prevalent in my community, that for some, they’ve become invisible.
This was a huge learning opportunity and one that opened my eyes about my neighbors, the ones without a place to call home. The ones I will no longer consider invisible! I am so glad to have participated in the Count and want to thank United Way for leading the charge to eradicate this problem in my city!
Elmer Roldan is a Program Officer in the Education Department at United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
United Way of Greater Los Angeles is currently accepting applications for funding in its three priority areas: Housing Stability, Educational Achievement and Financial Stability. Please review the following information on the RFP process and eligibility requirements before completing the official application.
To apply for a United Way RFP grant, your organization must be involved in one or more of the following areas: Housing Stability, Educational Achievement or Financial Stability.
Housing Stability: Our approach to ending homelessness centers on the “Housing First” model, which provides homeless individuals and families with housing and a network of supportive services to stabilize their living situation as quickly as possible. Key strategies include rapid rehousing system and permanent supportive housing (funds are coordinated through the Home For Good Funders Collaborative).
Educational Achievement: Our primary goal is to increase the County graduation rate while ensuring that every student graduates fully prepared for college and career. We support organizations and initiatives which provide academic support to students, offer leadership/professional development to educators, promote parent engagement or focus on raising student achievement at the middle school level.
Financial Stability: We’re seeking to ensure the financial security of all Angelenos through workforce development, asset-building and budget management techniques – the key building blocks for independence and long-term stability. Thanks to these efforts, local families, individuals and military veterans will possess the skills they need to not only survive, but to thrive.
Organizations that are exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are classified as “not a private foundation” under Section 509(a) are welcome to apply. Organizations must operate or demonstrate the ability to operate within Los Angeles County.
If you have further questions about the RFP process, please refer to ourFAQs
To download United Way of Greater L.A.’s 2013 RFP application, please click on one of the PDFs below:
If you qualify for an RFP grant in Housing Stability, you may also qualify for funding through the Home For Good Funders Collaborative. Please click here to apply. To download the Home For Good RFP, please click on the following PDF:Home For Good Funders Collaborative
*Please note the Home For Good RFP requires information on organizational budgets. You can preview the form here:RFP Budget Template
What are you currently studying and what do you hope to do with your degree?
I am currently working on my Master’s in Public Administration at USC. I recently completed my undergraduate degree in Public Policy at the same school. I hope to have a career in public service working for state or local government on policy issues, especially those that disproportionally impact lower socioeconomic individuals and families (such as housing and homelessness!).
What Home For Good project will you be working on?
I’ll be serving as a Policy Intern in Housing Stability assisting with research to help identify policy needs to implement Home For Good’s housing supply strategy, as well as prepare outreach materials for the various cities and housing authorities Home For Good is or will be working with.
Is this your first time working on the issue of homelessness? What other experiences have you had with homelessness in LA or in another region?
I first worked on the issue of homelessness really as an undergraduate, when I helped form a university student organization that advocated for and worked with local homeless shelters and non-profit organizations. We mentored and spent time with homeless youth at Jovenes and other housing sites, as well as published a student newspaper focused on homelessness news and issues.
If you had one super power, what would it be and why?
It would definitely be to fly so I would never have to sit in L.A. traffic or go through airport security again.
This month we are launching a pilot for the Home For Good Companionship Program! The program will provide social supports for formerly homeless individuals now living in permanent housing. As part of the Companionship Program, volunteers will have an opportunity to offer newly housed individuals friendship and a meaningful connection, reducing social isolation and helping empower residents in their new communities.
The Home For Good Companionship Program will be created collaboratively with volunteers, nonprofit partners, and clients. In the initial pilot, volunteers will meet with their new friend for a minimum of 4 hours per month. They will spend time getting to know each other and engaging in activities of mutual interest. The project will be a six month endeavor in collaboration with PATH, GettLove, Downtown Women’s Center, and L.A. Family Housing, whose residents have expressed interest in being paired with a volunteer. Volunteers will sign up by February 25th, and the pilot will run from March 18th through October 7th. If the program is successful, it will be introduced to more agencies across Los Angeles County.
If you are interested in being part of this wonderful opportunity please fill out an application by clicking here. For more information, read an overview of the Companionship Program and review the Pilot Timeline. If you have further questions please email Tina Estedabadi at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re excited about launching the pilot and hope to share news about its progress in the coming months!
What were you doing before joining the United Way?
I was working at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), where I served as the Outcomes Unit Manager. I led the team that was concerned with all things performance, which included collecting and analyzing reports from over 200+ funded agencies. Before that, I was at USC getting my Masters in Public Policy, and even before that I worked at Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) doing community outreach and IT.
What drew you to the field of homelessness?
I have to admit, I kind of fell into it by accident. I came out of Grad School wanting to “change the world,” but of course I had no idea where to start. So when an opportunity to work at the Homeless Authority came up, I jumped in with very little knowledge or experience in that realm. A lot of my work and experiences prior to that had been in community empowerment and social justice, and I had imagined that I would continue to work in those fields for just about forever. And I still kind of do in my own ways. But what I gained at the Homeless Authority was a greater understanding that issues of homelessness and poverty are both the symptoms and the results of injustice itself. I’m still learning more and more about homelessness everyday, and I’m definitely happy that I get to continue that process here at the United Way.
What are you most excited about in your new role as Program Officer?
I’m definitely excited about working with a very dynamic team, and the opportunity to work much more closely with the community than I could in my previous work. I also love that there’s coffee in the break rooms. Seriously. People have no idea how amazing that is! Trust me, it’s kind of a big deal, at least for me.
What is your favorite “guilty pleasure” T.V. show?
Regular Show. It’s a cartoon, and a very bizarrely hilarious one at that. In fact, 75% of what I watch are cartoons. That other 25% is filled with documentaries about puppies and how potato chips are made.
Presented in partnership with the Downtown L.A. Art Walk, our two-day art exhibition on October 10th &11th entitled “Faces of Homelessness” showcased compelling works by artists who used their talent and passion to vividly portray the harsh realities of homelessness.
Were you one of the 10,000 people who joined Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant at this year’s HomeWalk? Take a moment to enjoy this video recap of our Sixth Annual 5K Run/Walk to end homelessness at Exposition Park: