Below is a letter from Christine Marge, Director of Home For Good, reflecting on the Unite For Veterans Summit on July 16, 2014, which brought together providers, partners, and supporters from across LA and the nation to rally around ending veteran unemployment and homelessness:
Home For Good Partners,
Three and a half years ago, our community came together around the Home For Good vision of making Los Angeles a place where no one is forgotten, no one worries about having a warm, safe place of their own to sleep each night.
At Wednesday's Unite For Veterans Summit, our community's tremendous progress was acknowledged by our First Lady, Michelle Obama. In her inspiring remarks, she acknowledged, "Here in LA, the United Way and Chamber of Commerce have brought public and private partners together for an incredible program called Home For Good – and together, you have housed more than 9,000 veterans since 2011." (Watch her full speech by clicking here)
The best part of the day was seeing so many of you brimming with pride during and after that moment, knowing you played a part in this transformation.
As Laura Zeilinger, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, reminded us in her thoughtful opening remarks, "the cost of doing nothing is never nothing." I appreciate that each of you is committed to doing something - whether it be outreaching to people on our streets, providing mental health care, volunteering to provide companionship, contributing resources to our Collaborative, advocating for policy change, working to streamline Coordinated Entry, or walking at HomeWalk, you're a critical part of this movement we've built together.
We were thrilled to see Mayor Garcetti rising confidently to the challenge from our First Lady as he signed on to the Mayor's Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015, and expressed his commitment to partnering with us to reach Home For Good's goals. He acknowledged the great power of L.A. in saying, "The greatest force multiplier we have in this town is 10 million souls that are committed to marching to that same point on the horizon, and to ending this battle and winning it for good."
And yes, just as important as the tangible progress we've made together - housing over 14,000 people, including 9,000 veterans, harnessing over $360M in public and private funds for solutions, creating a coordinated entry system that's a model for cities across the country - is the community we've built together, our persistence in reaching our goals, and the heart each of you brings to all we do. That's what I felt most proud of this week.
So on behalf of the Home For Good team here at United Way and the Chamber and our Business Leaders Task Force, we thank you. We hope you, too, felt great pride as our collective efforts were lifted up on Wednesday. Special thanks to our co-sponsors at USC's Price School of Public Policy and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, all of our inspiring speakers, and each of you, for doing the often thankless work you do each day. We see you, and we are so grateful for you.
In the words of Matthew Smith, the inspiring New Directions' case manager who shared his journey with us on Wednesday, "I am proud beyond words that I now get to offer to other veterans every day the solution that was offered to me, and that is to COME HOME."
We still have much work ahead of us, but I have no doubt that we will continue to lead the way for Los Angeles and for the nation by coming together to ensure we are all home for good.
Director, Home For Good