What is The Catalyst Foundation’s mission?
The mission of The Catalyst Foundation is to create a healing society. Under this umbrella, we are dedicated to decreasing the impact of childhood abuse and trauma on society and the world through direct service, public education, advocacy, policy reform, and empowerment of directly affected and disenfranchised groups. In our local community, the Antelope Valley, we improve the health and well-being of low-income and homeless persons through trauma-informed outreach, supportive social services, and innovative prevention and health education programs.
What are some of the challenges to addressing homelessness in the Antelope Valley?
In the Antelope Valley, a unique atmosphere of stigma and discrimination against homeless people affects the local health care and social service environment. Such individuals avoid seeking health care and other services and try to be “invisible” because they fear that seeking services will bring them to the attention of local authorities. Local policies aggressively target homeless people for arrest for minor law violations such as loitering. Myths, stereotypes and fears about homeless people are prevalent in the region. Some local leaders and even some service providers believe that homeless people come to the Antelope Valley from other regions to use services and resources that should be dedicated to the needs of hard-working local residents. This myth defies logic (lack of services and extreme desert weather conditions are unlikely to attract homeless people) and surveys that show that most homeless persons lived in the region before becoming homeless. Nonetheless, a fearful mindset compounded by economic hard times makes some local leaders and residents hostile toward their homeless neighbors. The City of Lancaster is taking political steps to reduce the number of residents receiving Section 8 housing assistance and the amounts of Section 8 subsidies. According to the Antelope Valley Press, the city’s popular mayor has advocated providing homeless people with “bus tickets out of town” and recently said of ex-offenders, “We don’t want to rehabilitate them. We want them crushed and out of here.”
What are some of the unique opportunities to addressing homelessness in the Antelope Valley?
The Catalyst Foundation’s unique trauma-informed system of care addresses the root causes of homelessness in the Antelope Valley, especially childhood abuse and trauma issues which are pervasive among our participants. Numerous studies on the childhood experiences of homeless individuals clearly indicate the majority of homeless people have been subjected to serious trauma. In particular, the groundbreaking Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, a fifteen-year collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente (www.acestudy.org) illustrates the profound effect of childhood trauma on adult health and social functioning decades later. Contrary to popular belief, many people do not simply “get over” such things, even though they may fervently wish to do so. Childhood abuse and trauma, the horrors of war, the aftereffects of violent crimes, and similar issues may leave a devastating lifelong legacy, deeply affecting a person’s sense of self, feelings of safety and control, and ability to self-regulate intense emotions and to maintain close relationships. It can be seen that such long-lasting problems can greatly interfere with functioning in adulthood, ultimately leading to inability to maintain employment, housing, and relationships with others, ending in life on the streets. Catalyst’s trained staff screen all participants for childhood abuse and other life traumas, and connects them with programs and activities the help begin the process of healing these early wounds, which we believe will ultimately translate into stable, secure housing and a peaceful and productive life.
If the Catalyst Foundation decided to form a musical group, what kind of music would it play and why?
We would play music that is too new and different to be widely accepted by mainstream audiences. It would be similar to the music of Linkin Park, unabashedly representing the truth, humanity, and anguish of childhood abuse and trauma and its impact on individuals, society, and the world.
For more information about the Catalyst Foundation visit www.catalystfdn.org
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