By Mai P. Tran, ECMC Foundation
As part of ECMC Foundation's annual holiday tradition, team members on Tuesday headed to a local Los Angeles community organization to spread the holiday spirit and share warm tidings.
This year, holiday donations went to the Downtown Women's Center (DWC). Sleeping bags, hygiene products, gift cards for groceries, among other items, were part of the holiday gift.
Founded in 1978, DWC is the only support organization on Skid Row dedicated to helping homeless women. DWC provides permanent supportive housing, medical and behavioral health care, case management, among other services, to help women successfully transition out of homelessness.
"We want to help spread holiday cheer to folks in our community who need it the most," said ECMC Foundation President Peter Taylor. "We select community organizations, like the Downtown Women's Center, because they're making a positive impact in our community."
At DWC, the Foundation team was greeted by Amanda Loso, DWC's Community Engagement Coordinator, who provided a tour.
Along the tour, Loso stopped in front of wall art, which tells the story of the friendship between two women—Rosa, a homeless woman and Jill Halverson, an outreach worker—which inspired the start of DWC.
ECMC Foundation team members with DWC's Amanda Loso in front of wall art created by thumbprints of women at the center.
After leaving a mental health facility, Rosa found herself on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles. Looking for safety and security, she made sandwiches for strangers in exchange for their protection. The story caught Jill's attention and inspired her to begin a place that would be a safe haven for many other women like Rosa. "Many of our women come here with nothing and are looking for a place that feels safe like home," Loso said.
Representative of the security DWC provides, an open roof space the team also saw along the tour was created after many women there said they wanted a safe space to be outdoors.
Donations were made possible by personal contributions by team members.