Rotary ‘Adopts’ Upward Bound Apartments – Wendy Taylor

-2Since 1991, Upward Bound House in Culver City has helped more than 900 families and 1,692 children navigate the daunting road beyond homelessness through transitional supportive housing.

Via a $2,500 District Community Grant, the Culver City Rotary Community Foundation in partnership with Rotary District 5280, has adopted and outfitted two of the 18 apartments at the temporary family shelter where homeless families stay until they are on stable ground with employment and a permanent place to live—up to 90 days—and Upward Bound assists the families to get permanent housing and jobs. The success rate is 95% that families remain in their permanent homes after placement.

On October 13, 2014, several Culver City Rotary Club members showed up at Upward Bound to see the fruits of their contributions. The Rotary grant provided everything for two individual studio apartments—from Tupperware, towels and coffee pots and other kitchen utensils to shower curtains and bathroom supplies, new bedding and other living accouterments. The families are able to keep all these supplies when they move out to their permanent housing.

The Rotarians were given a tour of the facility from the kitchen/dining area, where residents receive two meals a day to the playground area for young children. Food donations are common from charities and businesses (Google sends in three meals a week for residents) and are dived up among residents and backpacks are given to children to take with them to school, including their lunches and school supplies. Yes, the kids go to local schools while they are there—a big change from the homeless community of living in cars or on the streets.

If a family comes in with more than three or four children, the family is divided into two units next to each other. Also, the parents must be clean and sober when they arrive, and random drug tests are conducted for those with previous substance abuse issues.

Various services are provided to help the family including counseling, job assistance and -1permanent housing location. In addition, they are provided counseling services for a full year after their placements. Counseling is a crucial need, since children especially suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being homeless.

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), 2013 Homeless Court Report, 7,391 family members—including 5,000 children—are homeless in the county. Although the report shows a decrease in the overall number of homeless families, the report says “we continue to see a rise in those who are ‘unsheltered,’ i.e., living in a place not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings, or on the streets…31% of homeless families are now unsheltered on any given night in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care—up 21% in 2011.”
Other agencies, however, report that this count is understated. The Los Angeles County Department of Social Services (DPSS) classified 14,678 CalWORKS families—with 19,408 children—in LA County as homeless in May 2013.

All Rotarians present for the tour on October 13 were impressed with the continuing good works of Upward Bound House. As one grounds maintenance worker mentioned when he showed Rotarians one of the apartments, when a mother and her three children moved in, she said, “home at last” and broke down in tears on the spot. That’s all Rotarians had to hear!

Upward Bound’s founding board member Booker Pearson, who has been involved with the program from the gate in1991, conducted the Rotary tour along with Aimee Przybyski, the Associate Director of Development on site.

How others can help –  To get in touch and offer assistance Upward Bound House, call the Administrative Office at 310-458-7779 and ask for Aimee.

For community members interested in Culver City Rotary Club membership and jumping on the service bandwagon, both locally and internationally, contact President Joel Forman at 310-559-7250, or member Wendy Taylor at 310-876-1411. People can also visit Weekly Rotary meetings are held on Wednesdays at noon at the Culver Hotel. All visitors are always welcome!


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