For each of our retail stores, Rejuvenation partners with a local charity. It’s a labor of love for us to do what we can to help the communities in which we work and live. In Los Angeles, we work with PATH (People Assisting the Homeless).
PATH is hosting their fundraiser on June 22 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. The evening will feature a VIP reception, one-night-only musical retelling of The Wizard of Oz, and dessert party with the cast. This event raises funds to permanently house 1,000 homeless families and individuals. Purchase tickets here or call (323) 644-2209.
In the meantime, we wanted to introduce you to PATH’s inspiring founder, Claire West-Orr.
In 1983, Claire West-Orr observed more and more homeless people scavenging through dumpsters in her west Los Angeles neighborhood. She asked, “Why is someone not doing something to help these people out?” When no answers came, the next question she asked was, “Why not me?”
She started with a letter—a simple invitation to the west Los Angeles community to discuss the growing problem of homelessness. There were no grandiose visions of a large social service agency, no thoughts of developing a model for services, not even the dream of ending homelessness. This group of conscientious and compassionate individuals just wanted to help the homeless people they saw in their own neighborhoods.
“We realized that something had to be done because so many people were falling through the cracks,” says Claire. “From the beginning, we made two decisions: that people would truly be able to help themselves with, as we say, ‘a hand up, not a hand out.’ And that we would be multi-denominational and community based.”
So in 1984, PATH was founded in a small office space donated by the Westwood United Methodist Church. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church agreed to host an emergency food and clothing program.
Today PATH has grown into a $12 million-a-year organization with multiple agencies working collectively to end homelessness throughout Southern California. PATH boasts expansive street outreach teams and 215 transitional beds at four locations. It will complete 1,000 units of new affordable housing by 2015 and is constructing a new $35 million facility in downtown San Diego.
When asked to share a memorable story from her time with PATH, Claire recounts, “I attended a west side meeting recently and met a young man who arrived at PATH with a history of drug abuse, incarceration, and many difficult life situations, including selling drugs by the time he was 11. He told me that PATH is not just CHANGING his life, but GIVING him a life for the first time ever.” These types of interactions occur on a daily basis. As Claire says, “Every day we witness a miracle, sometimes several.”
As to her coveted role as Aunt Em in the production, Claire modestly states, “I don’t usually feel comfortable with accolades and personal attention. However, I am happy to do my part to support the fundraiser. Likewise, PATH needs and appreciates the support we get from Rejuvenation. It’s a wonderful company and we so value what you contribute to help change peoples lives.”