Heartwarming interview with People's Momentum Award Winner, Alexandria House - Women's Foundation California

alexandria-house-staffOur first ever People’s Momentum Award contest ended at noon on March 28. Some minutes later, we announced the winner on Facebook and Twitter, and a couple of hours later we made the announcement on our website, blog and via email.

The winner was Alexandria House, a nonprofit that serves recently homeless women, mothers and children in Los Angeles. They won with 3,280 votes, while a total of 45,662 votes was cast for 337 organizations.

A couple of minutes after the voting ended, we sat down to deliver the great news to Alexandria House. This was one of those phone calls that makes you smile by simply thinking about them, and that makes you warm inside when you listen to them.

We recorded the interview and you can listen to an excerpt by clicking here or pressing play below. You’ll be hearing the voices of our Director of Communications Sande Smith and of the Executive Director of Alexandria House, Judy Vaughan.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/86467091%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-VyuWW” params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Interview transcript:

Sande: You came in with the most votes and you won $10,000 dollars from the Women’s Foundation of California. Congratulations! What does this grant mean to you?

Judy: It means that we will be able to continue providing the kinds of service that we have been doing. The needs of the people that we’re working with are much greater, given all the cuts that have happened over the last years.

I don’t know if it’s just the Los Angeles County, but the priority for the funding for the homeless services has been focused on the chronically homeless and the veterans, which has circumvented the recently homeless families—which comprise the majority of women we serve. These women are coming out of domestic violence, human trafficking, and they need a place to live.

In 2012-13 fiscal year, we’ve seen more than $150,000 in losses in funding from sources such as United Way and LAHSA (Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority), which have prioritized the “chronically homeless” and veterans. As a result, we’ve been desperately trying to maintain the services that we offer.

This grant will allow us to continue working not only with the current but with the past residents—we’re in touch with 90 out of 160 past residents.

For us, it’s all about creating a sense of community and support. That’s how women stay out of becoming homeless again. What women need in order to recreate their lives is a supportive community. And that isn’t something that is created in a matter of minutes or even weeks.

Sande: Can you tell us a little bit about the impact that this money will have?

Judy: The two programs that have been coming up short in terms of finding new money are childcare and counseling. You know that one of the Catch 22s—especially for women when they have young children—is that they’re supposed to be able to get a job or go back to school to get a better paying job, but they don’t have money to place their kids in childcare. But if they don’t have childcare, they of course can’t reach these goals for themselves.

In 2004, we started a childcare program for current and past residents. It’s an incredible program that is run by one of our past residents. Serena has created a phenomenal early childhood education program that is needs based. And we work with another group, which was also nominated for the People’s Momentum Award, Echo Parenting & Education. We were really struggling to find funding for this program.

The other program is counseling: More and more research done around trauma has recognized that the vast majority of people who have trauma, especially women, need to heal that trauma in order to address some of the issues that have resulted as a result of that trauma. As part of our program we came up with a counseling team to help women in crisis.

See, people come to us and they’re in crisis and we try to get them help but there are always waiting lists. But, for folks who are homeless, there is a sense of urgency in terms of time.

Sande: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Judy: I wanted to add that we’re an all-women’s staff and all women board. We’re also a neighborhood center so we’re much more than a transitional residence program. Part of our mission is to be consciously antiracist and to work on addressing the systemic issues that are keeping women in poverty.

Also, I wanted to mention that I’ve been in communication with the founding director of Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence, and we will work together.

So not only do we get the award that we desperately need, but this contest has helped us link up with other agencies. Because there are phenomenal agencies among those 340 that were nominated, and even though they may not have won this time, they definitely deserve all the connections and the support that all of us can possibly muster for each other.

This work is powered by you.

The feminist future we are building together in California is going to be built by all of us sharing our time, our money, and our skills.  Please consider contributing today.

Together We Are Unstoppable.

Sign up here to join our mailing list and receive updates about our programs, partnerships, and more!