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Last night, a special group of our Top #HomeWalk 2014 Fundraisers enjoyed a private Meet & Greet with Kobe Bryant! Kobe signed swag and took photos with fans before they enjoyed the LA Lakers vs. Philadelphia 76ers game. Special shout-out to the Lakers Community for making this magical moment happen!

Take a look at what happened below!

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Vigil for the man known as “Africa” on the streets of Skid Row.

 

We at United Way of Greater Los Angeles express our deepest sorrow for everyone who has been affected by the recent tragedy on the streets of Skid Row. What happened to the man known as “Africa” is heartbreaking and a stark reminder that it is more important than ever to show compassion for everyone in our communities. Every day, nearly 40,000 people are homeless on our streets. Each one of them is part of our community. Our mission is to serve our most vulnerable neighbors — those who may sometimes feel invisible or forgotten. But we see them. We are more determined than ever in our resolve to end veteran and chronic homelessness and do our part to make sure everyone on our streets feels the support and love of the community that surrounds them.

 

With the help of our generous corporate leaders, we are building a better Los Angeles. We regularly highlight our top corporate leaders and salute them for helping us create pathways out of poverty. United Way of Greater Los Angeles extends a huge thanks to these leaders and corporations working with us to permanently break the cycle of poverty for our most vulnerable neighbors: families, children, veterans and the homeless.

Thank You to Our Friends at Goudy Honda and the Los Angeles County Charitable Giving Campaign!

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Last fall, the Los Angeles County Employees Charitable Giving Campaign partnered up with its friends at Goudy Honda to create a drawing where one lucky winner would win a brand new car, courtesy of Goudy Honda.  A few weeks ago, the winner of the drawing was announced and we are thrilled to announce and congratulate Sergeant Steven A. Landers of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department as the winner of a new 2014 Honda Civic!

Along with the generous support of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, we’d like to thank all the participants of the Los Angeles County CGC – the generous Los Angeles County employees, the charitable partners of the CGC (Asian Pacific Community, Brotherhood Crusade, Community Health Charities, EarthShare of California, United Latino Fund, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, and Variety the Children’s Charity of Southern California), and last but certainly not least, our generous friends at Goudy Honda for making this drawing possible!  Together, with the help of our business, public, and non profit partners, we are fighting to improve the overall quality of life in Los Angeles!

Home For Good Unveils Detailed Action Plan to End Veteran Homelessness; Plan Presented at Press Conference Attended by VA Secretary and Local Officials  

Home For Good Ending Veteran Homelessness Press Release

HFG Ending Veteran Homelessness Press Conference

 

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United Way of Greater Los Angeles and The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce launched Home For Good in 2010, an initiative to end veteran homelessness in 2015 and chronic homelessness in 2016.  This event brings together national and local government officials, philanthropy, non-profit and the business communities to kick-off the final year of veteran homelessness work.  Since launched in 2010, Home For Good partners have found housing for nearly 12,000 homeless veterans, but significantly more work is needed to reach the goal of eradicating veteran homelessness in the next eleven months. The goal of the press conference is to call on each sector to publicly renew their commitment to end veteran homelessness by the end of the year and lay out the action plan to reach this goal.

Home For Good Media Alert

Donations Provide Grants for Financial Hardship

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LOS ANGELES, Dec. 3, 2014 – Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is once again inviting customers and employees to contribute to the company’s Gas Assistance Fund, a bill-assistance program that helps income-qualified customers facing financial hardships with a one-time grant of up to $100 per customer. As in years past, SoCalGas partners with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles to distribute the funds to customers who face hardships.

“The Gas Assistance Fund gives help to some of our customers who are facing emergency situations,” said Gillian Wright, vice president of customer services for SoCalGas. “We’d like to thank our caring customers and employees whose generous donations for 31 years have helped improve the quality of life of our customers who need extra support. We gratefully welcome their support.”

“This year, we can help thousands have the gift of warmth,” said Christine Marge director of housing stability at the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. “No one in our communities should have to choose between keeping warm or buying groceries. We are grateful to those who have supported the program for the past 31 years and continue to support those in need through the Gas Assistance Fund.”

Anyone interested in making a contribution is asked to mail their voluntary tax-deductible donations to: United Way, Gas Assistance Fund, File 56826, Los Angeles, CA 90074-6826, or donate online at www.unitedwayla.org.

Since the program’s inception in 1983, SoCalGas customers, employees, and shareholders have contributed more than $21 million, with funds distributed annually. The Gas Assistance Fund is administered by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and has so far helped more than 220,000 SoCalGas customers pay their natural gas utility bills in times of need.

SoCalGas collects donations to the Gas Assistance Fund throughout the year and will distribute the funds between February and the end of May 2015, or until they are depleted. Customers can visit socalgas.com (search “GAF”) to learn if they qualify for a grant. SoCalGas and United Way of Greater Los Angeles work with 80 to 100 volunteer, nonprofit and community-based organizations throughout its service territory to help income-qualified customers obtain a grant to pay their natural gas utility bill.

In addition to the Gas Assistance Fund, SoCalGas offers other customer assistance programs and services that can help customers manage home energy costs during the winter months. More information is available at socalgas.com or toll-free at (800) 427-2200 or (800) 342-4545 in Spanish.

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The Energy Assistance Fund (EAF) is a partnership with Southern California Edison (SCE) and United Way of Greater Los Angeles to help income-qualified families pay their electric bill, providing partial financial stability during a time of great need.

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TUntitled2he EAF program was started in 1982 as a seasonal winter program lasting only eight to twelve weeks and helping on average 4,000 families. The program has since grown to meet the expanding need of the community, serving approximately 14,000 households over a 12 month period. Since 1982, SCE and its employees have assisted over 200,000 families through investments of approximately $12 million into the program with an additional $4 million contributed from their customers. SCE and United Way of Greater Los Angeles have partnered for over 30 years on the Energy Assistance Fund. “United Way of Greater Los Angeles is pleased to partner with Southern California Edison on their Energy Assistance Fund, also known as EAF.” says UWLA President, Elise Buik. “Here in LA County, one in five children lives in poverty. The United Way is committed to creating pathways out of poverty so that every hard-working family and individual has the tools they need to be financially stable. We know that even the smallest amount of help can make a tremendous difference for someone in need.” “As the fund administrator for the EAF program, we work with over 70 community based organizations to provide payment assistance to customers who are unable to pay their bill.” continued Buik.

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How Can You Help?

Today’s tough economic times have hit Californians hard. Many of our neighbors need help paying their energy bills—especially seniors and families with children. The United Way and SCE work together to provide up to $100 per 12-month period to qualified customers struggling to pay their electricity bills.

 

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United We Can End Poverty. Are You In?

In today’s “Why” John Horn VP of Programs at LA Family Housing reflects on a recent article about a man that died after three decades on the streets as a “John Doe.”

 

He was not born to become homeless and certainly had hopes and dreams of a better life.  Despite his situation, he showed that he cared about the people he lived with as evidenced by the good deeds he performed in the strip mall – especially watching the unlocked shop.  He was a man that lived among us but no one really knew who he was or even his real name.

While reading the article, I was thinking about LA Family Housing – as the SPA 2 Coordinated Entry System (CES) lead – and the work we are doing with local partners to create a process where by we will identify all ofhomeless persons in our community by name.  It is important as we find persons like this man – to ask how they are doing, assess their needs, and see how we can help them to become permanently housed. This work puts a face to homelessness, making it not so common place. I think about our five SPA 2 CES Housing Navigators and how we now have a person assigned to the community where this man lived.  The navigator will connect to persons experiencing homelessness to learn about them and their needs.  It is outreach that has not been performed before in SPA 2 on such a large scale; our work will end the tragedy of a homeless person dying in the street who is known only as a “John Doe.”  Though this story is sad, I am encouraged by our Coordinated Entry System efforts and will use this as an example for why ending homelessness matters.

 

Partners like LA Family Housing are leading efforts in their community to identify all of our homeless neighbors, assess their needs and match them quickly to housing and services that best fit their needs through the Coordinated Entry System. They focus on providing permanent housing and services for our most vulnerable neighbors. This past week they held the Grand Opening of their latest housing development, Trudy and Norman Louis Apartments, which provides 45 units of permanent supportive housing and was partially filled by individuals identified and matched through the Coordinated Entry System.

 

Why do you believe in ending homelessness? What inspires you to keep working towards this goal?

Share with us at homeforgood@unitedwayla.org

Why Do We Work to End Homelessness? The following is a letter from Christine Marge, Director of Home For Good, please read and share this story and join the movement by walking in support of Home For Good’s work to end chronic and veteran homelessness by signing up for HomeWalk on November 15th at www.homewalkla.org:


This morning I was writing and reflecting on my week – what we had accomplished, where I had fallen short, and what had touched me along the way. I had a powerful reminder this week of why I do this work and why I love my job, and I wanted to share that story with you.

Each Friday, we’ll share a story – yours and ours – with the hope of connecting the threads of what knits us together as a community and as a movement. What’s your “why?”  What inspires you to keep doing this work every day? Share your stories with us by emailing homeforgood@unitedwayla.org.

I met Mark as I was walking home from work this week. He approached me with tears in his eyes, saying he felt like “a big baby” – at least 6 feet tall, strong, in his late 40s or 50s. He was released from prison the day before, and while sleeping on Skid Row that night, he was kicked in the jaw and robbed of the few belongings he had left, and woke up to the feeling of his arm pulled in one direction as they took his backpack and his leg in another as they took the shoes off his feet.

He started crying harder as he said, “my mom died while I was in. I just want my mom…”

I listened, tears in my eyes, as he shared more. At the end of our conversation, I walked away in awe of the beauty of this man willing to set aside his pride in favor of connection. It’s hard to express without sounding trite or cliche what a profound gift that was to me.

I feel the urgency around ending homelessness every day, which is the “what” of my job, but moments like these remind me that the transformative power of human connection is at the heart of why I do it.

My purpose is sharing this story is to communicate the heart of why I do this work, but a few of you also asked what happened to Mark. Here’s what I’ve shared:

He felt ok about finding somewhere safe to sleep that night, so I asked him to call me the next morning if he still wanted/needed connection to a more permanent place to live. He didn’t call. And I was at peace with that, knowing that wherever he is, he knows that someone in the world cared enough to listen and that the line is open if he wants/needs it.

I want to give a HUGE shout out to Danielle Wildkress from CSH who focuses on reentry work and responded immediately to my question of where Mark could go for help. She linked me to Doug Bond and Alan Richards at Amity Foundation who were willing to connect with Mark right away and support him. Peggy Edwards of UHHP and LARRP also reached out to let me know of great resources for Mark.

So there’s a network here for Mark. That’s what I love about this job. Each of you, wanting to do everything you can to be that network of hope and love!

HomeWalk 2014 Media Alert