Stories from the Frontline: Pasadena
What a night.
Everyone In: Stories from the Frontline in Pasadena was one of our most powerful. The event was about the solutions needed to end homelessness, but it was also about a community coming together to support, embrace, and provide a receptive space to hear the stories of our neighbors who have lived through it.
Shawn Morrisey, Director of Advocacy at Union Station Homeless Services, opened up the evening by talking about how abuse and addiction at an early age led him to homelessness. After years living on the street, he found support and care at Union Station, where he now leads efforts to help connect others in need to homes and supportive services.
Shawn has felt how the misconceptions about people living on the streets can lead to fear and hate.
“I like to say we mistake the people experiencing the problem for the problem itself,” he observed.
Dorothy Edwards, a CSH Speak Up! advocate, spoke about her journey from nearly losing her life due to homelessness and addiction to now being a leader and administrator who helps secure more supportive housing for the thousands experiencing homelessness in the San Gabriel Valley.
Above all else, she believes in the power of treating people living outside with humanity and dignity.
She suggested, “I think the best thing we can do is ask what’s your name? It’s so simple.”
Keith Crenshaw is a talented musician, and a dedicated advocate for supportive housing in Los Angeles.
He is someone who has experienced homelessness on and off for years. His story—losing his job, his home, and his mother—is heartbreaking.
But more importantly, Keith’s story is a reminder that while homelessness can happen to anyone, homelessness does not define anyone. Check out our Instagram to hear Keith’s incredible music.
Like Keith, Hector Curiel is someone who was the victim of terrible luck and timing. Hector lost his job, then got diagnosed with Diabetes while living in his car. He struggled, but ultimately formed a foundation for stability through the help of case management and supportive housing. Today, he is thriving.
Cynthia Nixon left us speechless when she spoke about self-worth and belonging in a community, irrespective of whether you have housing.
“For many years I bought the lie that I was a disposable person, but we’re not those people,” Cynthia recalled. “We’ve walked through fire, and we’re filled with gratitude to be here. We’re exactly who you want as neighbors.”
Today, Cynthia is a student, a lifelong Pasadena resident, a mother, and an advocate who is making change.
Jill Shook, co-founder of Making Housing and Community Happen, spoke about the power of showing up and putting pressure on our elected officials to say “yes” to the solutions we know work: supportive and affordable housing.
Shook directly addressed the audience in her remarks: “We can end homelessness in Pasadena. Let’s prove that we can do it. And let’s prove to other cities that we can end homelessness.”
“The stability of a home ends homelessness,” announced Elise Buik, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
Buik spoke about the urgent need for supportive and affordable housing. L.A. County currently has a deficit of over 500,000 low-income housing units, and we simply cannot expect to help our most vulnerable thrive until we can ensure everyone in need has access to the stability of a home.
Finally, Teresa Eilers, our Everyone In organizer in the San Gabriel Valley, gave us all an assignment: to take action. Get involved with our campaign. Attend a training. Volunteer with our amazing partners. Help us be part of the solution to end this homelessness and housing crisis across L.A. County, not just Pasadena.
Thank you to all our speakers, to Union Station Homeless Services and CSH, the John and Marilyn Wells Family Foundation, and all the community members who came out in support.
These events are how we make lasting change, and we couldn’t have done it without you.