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.