Reverend Donald Shelby, senior pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Santa Monica for 23 years, had a vision. It was to somehow lend a hand to low-income seniors and homeless families.
That vision became a mission, and that mission began to manifest in 1990 with the creation of Upward Bound House.
To commemorate the ongoing success of Upward Bound House, a Welcome Home Gala, celebrating 10 years of rebuilding families, was held at the Skirball Cultural Center. Over 300 people gathered to pay tribute to the honorees. Reverend Shelby was presented with the Humanitarian Award by his good friend, Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson of St. Monica’s. Barbara Billingsley presented the Advocacy Award to Jerry Mathers (“The Beav”) for his nationwide lectures on diabetes prevention and treatment. Mr. Santa Monica, Nathaniel “Nat” Trives, presented the Corporate Spirit Award to the RAND Corporation. Executive Vice President Michael Rich, who accepted the award, said, “We are very humbled to be honored by such an organization and take pride in your achievements.”
Since the opening of Family Place in 1997, this community-based, non-denominational, nonprofit agency has helped more than 850 individuals, including 550 children who have graduated into permanent housing. According to Program Director Tracy Woodburry, “Homelessness is generational and if we can catch kids at a young age, we can prevent them from cycling back into being homeless.” Executive Director David Snow said, “We do more than just provide services and housing. We help people to fulfill their potential.” In addition to providing temporary housing, Family Place also provides tutoring and recreational activities for the children and life skills such as budgeting and saving to the adults.
Event Chairs Kristina Andresen and Jim Giggans put together a heartfelt and, hopefully, profitable evening. Other participants in the proceedings included Honorary Chair Richard Bloom, who did the invocation and lit a menorah.
In the words of the entertaining and charming Master of Ceremonies Ted Chen, co-anchor of the weekend editions of Today in LA and general assignment reporter for Channel 4 News, “Family Place rebuilds families and puts smiles on the faces of children.” Chen also shared with the audience that his mother had named him Theodore after, yes, you guessed it, The Beav.
For more information on Upward Bound House and/or Family Place, call 310.458.7779 or go to upwardboundhouse.org.