On Sunday June 1st at the 9:30 a.m. Mass you are invited to join the Holy Family community in blessing the Rodriguez family for their graduation from the Imagine LA program. Imagine LA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mobilizing the community to end family homelessness and chronic poverty in Los Angeles. Imagine LA has developed an innovative volunteer mentorship program that matches homeless families with volunteer teams from faith communities, companies, and other committed organizations. The program was new, but Cambria urged us to try and to be the first Catholic Parish to participate.
In July 2012, a team of Holy family volunteers partnered with Imagine LA and together took a deep dive into a relationship with the Rodriguez Family. We wanted to get an up close and personal look at the world of chronic poverty, and to have a lasting impact. The Holy Family Team consists of co-leads Anamaria Young and Dave Hubinger, budget mentors Jay and Nancy Madden, and individual mentors Marlene Moore and Rosemarie Mollinedo. The Team was given the opportunity to “walk a mile” in a family’s shoes (actually up to two years), and to potentially teach a family to fish, not just give them fish. The journey has been full of learning, bumps, building relationships and lasting impact.
Under the co-leadership of Anamaria and Dave, the Holy Family Team received homeless sensitivity and mentorship training before being matched with the Rodriguez Family. The Rodriguez family is headed by single mother Elizabeth (34) who has two daughters Melody (13) and Kaylyn (10), and a toddler son Matthew (3). Elizabeth was matched with a budgeting mentor team and individual mentor, and both girls were also matched with individual mentors.
Elizabeth’s homelessness had been a result of chronic poverty combined with acts of domestic violence. Upon entering the Imagine LA Program, Elizabeth had a temporary housing voucher and was living in a small apartment in Pasadena. Soon after, Elizabeth lost her temporary housing voucher and was forced to uproot her family from Pasadena to Marina Del Rey, the only safe subsidized housing unit. Throughout the whole process the Holy Family volunteer team was there for support and wonderful relationships have blossomed (see Holy Family Team quotes).
As part of the Imagine LA journey, Elizabeth has learned how to budget her finances, improved her parenting techniques, had bouts of employment and has chosen to go back to school to increase her skills and earning potential, resolved significant dental and medical issues, and maintained housing. Also, the children are now excelling in school! Even with the move to Marina Del Rey, the entire family has built lasting relationships with their volunteer team from Holy Family and is hopeful that these relationships will continue upon graduation from the Imagine LA program. Although the journey in the Imagine LA program has come to an end, the relationship between Holy Family and the Rodriguez Family will continue to grow stronger.
Quotes from the Holy Family Team:
“As Kaylyn’s mentor, we began to get to know one another by meeting with her family and playing games. This activity not only proved to be the source laughter and connections, but also helped the family get to know, trust and feel comfortable with me. Elizabeth, the mother of the family, told me that she had never played games with her family before. After several visits, outings and celebrations with the family, I have established a trusting and mutually enjoyable relationship with the family. “ Rosemarie Mollinedo
“Elizabeth made my day this morning as we were chatting on the phone and she was telling me about how she realized that she needs to continue to maintain authority in her household. She is learning and applying parenting techniques that have been very useful to the family. This has been my prayer for her and her family. She is becoming a stronger person and a great role model for her children.” Marlene Moore
“One of the things I was most in awe of was Elizabeth’s capacity to forgive and move on. She did not feel bitter or place blame on those who hurt her or the hard choices she was forced to make. Her love and devotion to her family were astounding and I truly felt as though I was the one being blessed by such an amazing woman and the relationship we were about to venture into. As one of the two co-leads of the family I learned a great deal from Elizabeth and her children and thank Holy Family and Imagine LA for the opportunity.” Anamaria Young
“My husband, Jay, and I are Elizabeth’s budget mentors. Due to Elizabeth’s distrust in men, it was very hard for her to trust Jay. Actually in the beginning of the match he was fired and only I worked with Elizabeth. However, through the relationship, Elizabeth opened up to Jay, and together the 3 of us built a very strong relationship. Jay and I learned a lot about perseverance and resilience from this relationship. We were so impressed at Elizabeth’s capability to stretch a dollar and her ability to navigate through the difficult social service benefits system. The trust that was built, the relationship that was created and the goals we accomplished together will last with Elizabeth and us for a lifetime.” Nancy Madden
“It has been a deeply rewarding experience working with the Rodriguez Family on their journey to self sufficiency and personal empowerment. Elizabeth, Melody, Kaylyn and Matthew, we are very proud of your commitment to the Imagine LA program and self improvement. You have made tremendous progress over the last two years. Your story is an inspiration. Congratulations on your graduation. God’s blessings as you continue on your pathway to success and happiness.” Dave & Janine Hubinger