Ways to help

Always thinking about ways to improve the situation and how to make things better, our contributor, Cheryl Farrell, discusses Homeless in Los Angeles and how to step up to serve the un-housed community. 

Thank you, Cheryl!

The World Is Better When I Think Of Hope

A few weeks ago, I awoke from a rare nightmare. It was terrifying and vivid. The dream was so realistic that tears streaming down my face dampened my pillow. I recently learned that nightmares may come from the stress of uncertain times such as COVID-19—even if the disease hasn’t affected you personally. It took several minutes for me to realize (and believe) that I was safe in my bed in a warm home. Yet, the fear from that sleep experience lingered for many days.

6 Ways to Help Homeless in Los Angeles

1. Sign Up For Homeless Count

The Housing Inventory Count is an “inventory of projects/programs or sites within the Los Angeles Continuum of Care (LA CoC) that provide beds and units dedicated to serve people experiencing homelessness or people who have experienced homelessness.” Learn more here.

2. Build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) to house someone

With new relaxed rules for permitted accessory dwelling units it’s much easier than it was to have a backyard dwelling speace. Learn more about ADU’s here.

3. Donate In-Kind Goods

In-kind goods are classified as donations such as goods, services or time – instead of cash. Goodwill and the Salvation Army both accept in-kind goods.

4. Advocate for affordable housing and renters rights

The National Housing Law Project has put together resources for advocates, politicians, policymakers and others. Learn more about the NHLP here.

5. Volunteer

The National Coalition for the Homeless has many resources if you would like to volunteer to help end homelessness. Learn more here.

6. For more ways to help – contact Curbed Los Angeles

Curbed Los Angeles is a  wealth of very important information on Homeless in Los Angeles, check it out here.

In the dream, I was a homeless person.

In my “dream”, I was pushing a shopping cart along busy Los Angeles streets. At certain points in my imagined travels, my cart tipped over and my belongings fell into traffic. People stared at me and some jeered. No one helped me.

My toddler daughter was dressed in a dirty pink jacket and she looked up at me from the shopping cart. Surprisingly, her eyes comforted me as if saying, “As long as you’re here Mommy, I’m okay.” She was doing fine as long as I forged on.

My real daughter is 23 years old and employed in the arts in New York City. My 29-year old son works at a law firm in San Francisco. My husband and I live comfortably in Thousand Oaks, CA.

My personal exposure to Los Angeles homelessness occurred in fall 2018.

An older cousin was living in his minivan due to poor choices caused by mental illness. After a desperate 10-day search, my family found my cousin dead, slumped in the driver’s seat of his vehicle. His death certificate states he died of natural causes.

However, it doesn’t seem “natural” to die alone while homeless. My life mission is to make good of bad experiences. I believe I’m here to improve the world in some way. Prompted by my nightmare and in honor of my cousin, I recently made a financial contribution to Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission.* Their vision is “…that no one goes without hope … a message of love, support and freedom for a better tomorrow.”

My dark dream also inspired me to post a theme song I wrote and performed for a non-profit agency a few years ago. I hope you are encouraged by hearing When I Think of Hope.Listen Here.

Ralph Waldo Emerson defined success as improving the place we inhabit.

“To leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition;
to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived
— that is to have succeeded”

*Editor’s Note: When Cheryl Farrell submitted her story idea, she was not aware that Hope of the Valley was to be featured this month at insidewink. We call that “being plugged in” to share the good.

Read about co-founder Jean Trebek and her husband Alex who generously donated to help individuals in need of Hope of the Valley’s services in our Charity Section.

Cheryl Farrell is a guest writer for insidewink.com

Cheryl Farrell

Cheryl Farrell is a corporate communications consultant and performance storyteller in Southern California. She has decades of experience in healthcare, education, and financial services. Cheryl was an original cast member of the Jeopardy! Clue Crew (2001 to 2008) and toured the world appearing in more than 1,000 video clips. She is developing a book proposal that examines how older black women excel at the intersection of race, gender, and age. Cheryl has a master’s degree in Communication Management from USC and a bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA. She has been married for 35 years and has two adult children.

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