By Barbara Fowlkes
Los Angeles,CA(Hollywood Today)11/17/12/– –At 7:00 am this morning thousands of Angelenos gathered at the 6th Annual HomeWalk 2012 5K to end homelessness hosted by United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Beginning at Exposition Park in downtown Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant addressed thousands of fans as the event’s Honorary Chair for the second year in a row. ABC7 Eyewitness News’ David Ono hosted the opening ceremony along with Bryant, which began at 8:30 am. Both emphasized, “the importance of a finding a permanent solution to homelessness together.”
Bea Cohen or “Rosie the Riveter,” also attended the 5K to show her support of fellow Angelenos. Cohen, a 102-year-old WWII vet, worked as a riveter at Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica. Thousands of avid runners and volunteers presented a united front against homelessness today, in an effort that was unprecedented and truly inspirational. “We can all agree that the current situation facing Los Angeles County is unacceptable,” president and CEO of United Way in Greater Los Angeles, Elise Buik asserted.
With over 51,000 homeless in Los Angeles, this number is unacceptable. One-quarter of these individuals are estimated to be chronically homeless and almost half are women and children. A volunteer from the event informed me that almost one third of the homeless in Los Angeles have at least a bachelors degree. This shocking statistic comes as no surprise during a time when unemployment is in double digits. In addition to job loss, divorce and illness are often at the root of homelessness.
Today, the Hilton Foundation announced they would double the fundraising efforts of individuals who rose upwards of $100. In addition to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Wells Fargo, PwC and ABC7 sponsored the 5K run/walk. As a result of HomeWalk fundraising over the past five years, 12,000 people have been moved into permanent housing with the goal being to end chronic veteran homelessness by 2016 through the implementation of a five year action plan called “Home for Good.”
As they worked towards completing the race, various stops along the walk illustrated the severity of homelessness to passers by. This morning the community was able to put a dent in chronic homelessness, reminding everyone that the homeless are more than nameless, faceless statistics. Steve Hatter has found a home with United Way of Greater LA. He notes, “these are our friends and neighbors, ‘once we end this vicious cycle—what I refer to as the “hamster wheel of homelessness”—then we can finally solve this problem once and for all!’ Once homeless, Steve Hatter, a fellow English major, has found a home with United Way of Greater LA.
For more information please go to http://www.unitedwayla.org