Stories from The People Concern

A Mother’s Path To Permanent Housing

Your support helps Elizabeth move towards home & family.

In an office buzzing with activity, Elizabeth is a source of calm and quiet.
 
That is until she starts talking about her 16-year-old son. Her speech picks up and she brandishes a smile that forces everyone else in the office to follow suit.
 
It was Elizabeth's desire to reunite with her son that led her to seek services at The People Concern after becoming homeless last year. And it's that love that continues to propel her toward her goal of securing permanent housing.
 
As her life's circumstances became more than she could bear, Elizabeth first sought help from a local church before eventually seeking services at The People Concern.
 
Initially, Access Center staff assisted her with mail retrieval and meals. After learning the scope of support available to her, she began working with Case Manager, Lisa Brehove. Elizabeth also began seeing a clinical therapist for mental health care. She later accepted an interim housing placement at SAMOSHEL, and is now actively working with staff to chart a path toward permanent housing. 
 
Currently, Elizabeth maintains weekend custody of her son, which limits the time they're able to spend together. She is eagerly working to move into permanent housing so she'll be able to increase the frequency of those visits.
 
"I miss him a lot," she said. "It's hard because I don't get to see him very much. If I had a home, he could come and visit."
 
Elizabeth views her relationship with the agency as an essential component of her path to stability.
 
"Thank God for the agency and all the people," she said. "They're really welcoming and if you really need help, they will help."

Cassia and Mendocino Farms Give Back

From March 12 to 25, Mendocino Farms is selling a specialty sandwich inspired by Santa Monica restaurant Cassia, with all proceeds going to The People Concern.

Mendocino Farms, a California-based restaurant concept serving chef-inspired sandwiches and salads, has partnered with renowned Chef Bryant Ng of Santa Monica’s Cassia to add Cassia’s Lemongrass Chicken Sandwich with Chickpea Curry to its menu from March 12 to 25.

100% of profits from each sandwich sold will benefit The People Concern and help to improve the lives of those who are food insecure, homeless or victims of domestic violence.

Growing a Community

A home is more than four walls, as proven by the new community garden’s sustainable impact on the residents of The People Concern’s SAMOSHEL interim housing campus in Santa Monica.

“I want them to come out and see that this is not a shelter, it is a home,” explains Daniel, resident of SAMOSHEL and one of the leading participants in the garden. In a short few months, an empty plot of land has transformed into a purely organic garden, which is home to native bees and butterflies and filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables—including broccoli, cauliflower, corn, strawberries, watermelon, and tomatoes.

“We’ve picked some tomatoes already, and they were like biting into a sugar cube they were so sweet,” expresses Jeffery, a ten-month resident of SAMOSHEL. In addition to speaking to the quality of the garden’s produce, Jeffery emphasizes the communal spirit the garden has brought to SAMOSHEL’s program participants. “This is something we accomplished here. It’s community. They can cut up some of our tomatoes and put it in the dinner salad for everyone,” Jeffery shares. As he anticipates soon moving from the interim housing campus to his own apartment, Jeffery hopes the garden will continue to grow in size and impact. “I know it will,” he says confidently. “I remember when it was empty. But we just kept planting and watering. Look at it now,” he looks in awe at the garden.
 
SAMOSHEL’s garden has attracted support from outside the immediate interim housing community. Carolyn, a Master Gardener, raised funds for soil, seedlings, and a drip irrigation system when she discovered the potential impact of a thriving community garden. “I see in their struggles with homelessness how much they are surrounded by walls, cement, structures, and systems. There is not that much real life and connection to nature. I think providing that I their living environment adds an invisible touch for their wellbeing,” Carolyn expresses.

Although it is difficult to quantify how much a garden brings to the people cultivating it—especially people who may be food insecure—Carolyn shares that the smiles and engagement amongst SAMOSHEL’s residents showcases the positive, pervasive influence of the garden. In order to continue to support the people of The People Concern, Carolyn’s next project surrounds the growth of Cloverfield’s community garden, another interim housing campus of the agency. “When you look around, you see cement, light posts, buildings, and cars. But this is life,” Carolyn motions to the beautiful garden.

The garden serves a transformative role at SAMOSHEL, both aesthetically and spiritually. Terrell, a seven-month resident of SAMOSHEL who is now two months away from housing, shares that the garden tends to her anxiety and stress the same way she tends to it. “We are showing appreciation to it, and it is showing appreciate to us,” Terrell describes. The garden also serves as one of Terrell’s ways of upholding her role as the president of SAMOSHEL’s Resident Advisory Council, for she recognizes the appreciation residents feel for the fresh fruits and vegetables.

Daniel says that, thanks to the garden, the difference is “night and day” in the residents’ morale. “I was feeling down. I imagined the other residents were feeling the same way,” Daniel explains, “This feels like a home now.”