Homeless in LA is not just Skid Row. It’s battered women fleeing their circumstances, children in tow, it’s families who had to abandon their apartments because the breadwinner lost his/her job, it’s people like you and me who have been living paycheck to paycheck and, suddenly, their circumstances change.
It’s not unusual anymore to see people living out of their cars. What we don’t see is the quiet work of associations who provide affordable housing or interim accommodations for such people in need, until they are back on their feet.
I was talking recently to Karen Sherwood, the co-chair of Topanga Women’s Circle, a local network of women started years ago by a lovely French lady, Arlette, who has now moved back to her native land. Karen and Linda Ilsley (her co-chair) picked up where Arlette left off and, working in collaboration with Venice Community Housing and Salvation Army Westwood Transitional Village provide a personal touch and some warmth to otherwise comfortable but bare apartments.
By collecting and soliciting donations from blankets, linen, towels, toys, kitchen items, pantry staples and the like, these Topanga volunteers rush when they get the call that a family is about to be placed. They descend on the apartments like those renovation teams of the House and Garden Channel and, a few hours later, they leave behind pink bedrooms, bathrooms with flower shower curtains, mats and towels, tables set for dinner, kitchen cabinets filled with food, ready to welcome those who show up with only a few belongings and a heavy heart. Checking the photographs on their website gives you the measure of their creativity and resourcefulness.
All the donated items, new or gently used, are stored and organized in a big container, ready to be loaded at a moment’s notice. These women reminded me that sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference – a small endeavour is easier to envisage than a world-changing plan. If you are cleaning out your closets and cabinets in time for Thanksgivings, check out the list of items that could brighten up someone else’s temporary home on http://www.topangawomenscircle.org