One of the 23 previously homeless people to be honored by the Westside Shelter & Hunger Coalition (WSHC) at its 12th annual Success Breakfast on Friday, October 12, is Ann Rebecca Balter, who now works as a professional painter, lives in CLARE Sober Living, and volunteers in CLARE’s Assessment and Referral program. “My wish is to continue my loving relationship with [my daughter and grandchildren], as well as to keep making art and exhibiting work.”
In her journey from homelessness, Balter received assistance from the CLARE Foundation, one of the more than 30 nonprofits, public agencies, and church groups that make up the WSHC. She also acknowledges support from Coalition members Chrysalis, Edelman Westside Mental Health Center, and Venice Family Clinic.
The Success Breakfast is “a wonderful opportunity to display the hard work and dedication of so many people,” said Lisa Fisher, WSHC director. “Each of the honorees proves that there is a way to end homelessness when we all work together to provide the support and resources needed to rebuild lives.”
Ann Rebecca Balter’s story may strike some as unusual. But then, everyone who is, or has been, homeless has their own very personal story. “My amazing father was a brilliant writer and executive producer who died when I was 22,” she says. “My mother was a beautiful and intelligent woman who developed depression, leading to addiction and eventually suicide.”
Balter studied art abroad and had a career as an artist and as a stylist in film and print. “I grew up in a family that recognized and nurtured my artistic talents; but I was also surrounded by the movie industry and its drug culture.” Then, in 1987, she was assaulted by a man and fell 47 feet from a building, breaking many bones. In the course of a year’s hospitalization, she became addicted to opiate painkillers.
Years of homelessness followed, including two in a wheelchair. She moved to Las Vegas, where she was homeless off and on until 2006, when “some old friends tracked me down after an eight-year search and held an intervention with me.” That led to Tarzana Treatment Center and to CLARE in Santa Monica and the other Coalition members who provided Balter with the assistance that enabled her to rebuild her life.
Ann Rebecca Balter’s is one of the many whose accomplishments will be honored at the breakfast, which this year is themed: “Celebrating Success: Changing Lives and Revitalizing Our Communities.”