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Putting the “Giving” in Hollywood’s Holidays

By Genie Davis

November 23, 2016

Because the holiday season is all about giving and receiving thanks, it’s time to offer plenty to a trio of Hollywood-area foundations that help the homeless. Providing support through contributions, volunteering, and simply spreading the word about these charitable institutions is a great way to give back.

My Friend’s Place

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My Friend’s Place helps homeless young people build self-sufficient lives. The organization began with a volunteer-led mobile meal program in 1988, and today serves over 1400 homeless youths between the ages of 12 and 25. With over 400 volunteers, and through collaboration with social service providers and educational institutions in the area, the organization offers programs such as the Safe Haven Program, the Transformative Education Program, and the Health & Well Being Program.

According to Heather Carmichael, executive director, “My Friends Place is dedicated to creating a safe community for young people living on the streets and providing the resources to create relationships and imagine a brighter future, so they can start taking steps that will end their homelessness.”

Mural at My Friend's Place. (courtesy photo)

Mural at My Friend’s Place. (Courtesy photo)

Carmichael notes that Los Angeles is overwhelmed by a crisis of community members without  housing.

“So many young people have come out of foster care, young adults who find taking life on as an independent person is very challenging. We really try to be a place where young people aren’t judged, to create employment opportunities, and address mental health issues and legal issues so they aren’t quite as overwhelming. We help them find a pathway to healthier, more stable futures.”

My Friend's Place annual fall festival. (Courtesy photo)

My Friend’s Place annual fall festival. (Courtesy photo)

My Friend’s Place is 100% private-funded and has no religious affiliation. Serving nearly half the homeless youth in Los Angeles from their location right on Hollywood Boulevard, it provides intensive case management, meals, and links to on and off-site medical care, as well as helping homeless youth successfully move into housing.

The Center at Blessed Sacrament

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Recognizing just how painfully isolating homelessness is, The Center lives up to their mission to: “End isolation. End chronic homelessness. One cup of coffee at a time.” Building community is the goal, with connection-creating, interactive activities offered in a safe space.

The Center: ending chronic homelessness, one cup of coffee at a time. (Courtesy photo)

The Center holds interactive groups and activities every weekday morning. A strong mindfulness practice integrates meditation into each group, as well as healthy snacks like smoothies and fresh fruit.

Card games and other activities connect clients of The Center. (Courtesy photo)

Card games and other activities connect clients of The Center. (Courtesy photo)

Among the most popular programs are Morning Mindset, which combines meditation practice with group discussion; Coffee Hour, a time for a free coffee and conversation; Mornings with Paige, which offers a variety of new, experiential activities; and Flourishing in Recovery, which utilizes aspects of a 12-Step Program. Additionally art, music, creative writing, poetry classes, gardening, current events discussions, and even improv games are on the menu, along with a supportive woman’s group. Tuesday morning brings visits from a Queenscare nurse on-site.

Music circle at The Center. (Courtesy photo)

Music circle at The Center. (Courtesy photo)

The organization is also one of the Coordinated Entry System (CES) hubs for metropolitan Los Angeles, working with many other agencies to offer permanent supportive housing. Even individuals The Center has placed in housing return regularly to this inclusive space, drawn to the communication and learning opportunities it offers.

Housing Works

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Housing Works provides permanent supportive housing and support services to the homeless, domestic violence victims, at-risk youth, veterans, and those physically or mentally ill throughout Hollywood, Pasadena, south and central LA, and the San Fernando Valley.

Staff of Hollywood Housing Works. (Courtesy photo)

Staff of Hollywood Housing Works. (Courtesy photo)

The group offers a variety of programs to assist the most traumatized and vulnerable community members. Their Mobile Integrated Services Team (MIST) reaches out to the chronically homeless, assisting them in finding housing, providing support services to help maintain housing, and housing retention/eviction prevention services. The Scattered Site Housing program provides flexible services to help tenants stay in their homes and thrive in their community, and assist them in developing the personal skills necessary to manage their own lives. Project-Based Housing offers on-site supportive services to formerly homeless tenants. And, through their Supportive Housing Program, Housing Works also develops educational enrichment experiences, social interaction, and volunteer work opportunities. In short, Housing Works encourages the idea of giving back to create a stronger, healthier community.

Housing Works clients entering their new homes. (Courtesy photo)

Housing Works clients entering their new homes. (Courtesy photo)

Giving back – now there’s a worthy idea for everyone celebrating a Hollywood holiday.

Housing Works
1277 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Phone: (323) 466-0042

My Friend’s Place
5850 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: (323) 908-0011

The Center
6636 Selma Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: (323) 378-3225


Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.

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