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Bayside District Corporation:

The Santa Monica’s Chamber of Commerce (SMCC) honored the Bayside District Corporation (BDC) as a Business Cares recipient on July 30 for their activities to help end homelessness.

This event is part of SMCC’s Business Cares program which helps spotlight local businesses that are working to end homelessness. Events like this are being held so that businesses can not only be recognized for their work but also can explain to other businesses why they got involved and why it was good for their company.

Kathleen Rawson, BDC’s CEO commented on the impact homelessness has on Downtown Santa Monica and the different approaches her organization is taking to tackle the problem.

Recently, the BDC started the Ambassador Program to provide an inviting and safe atmosphere in the district. All Ambassadors receive training from the City of Santa Monica on how to interact with the homeless in a safe and respectful way. This training includes how to guide homeless individuals to social services if they are ready to receive help. They also learn how to counsel those who want to help the homeless.

The BDC along with the City of Santa Monica helped create a new guide called “Homeless Services and Resource Guide for Santa Monica” which lists not only services for the homeless but also the best ways individuals can help them. Rawson noted at the event that, “if people give directly to the homeless it helps them stay on the street rather than helping them get off.” This is why the BDC has been involved with the Dolphin Change Program since 1993.

This program gives people a way to give their spare change responsibly to established social service organizations. Since the BDC began their affiliation with the program they have raised $150,000 for the needs of the homeless. This year Bayside will increase their total award from the Dolphin Change Program Grants to $50,000. This was made possible through the additional funding from the Marion Dorn Estate as well as the donations collected from the Dolphin sculptures throughout the City. This comes at a time when non-profits are experiencing difficulty raising money for their operating costs due to the recession. Rawson also mentioned that this larger amount “will make a bigger impact than the $5,000 grants we’ve given in the past.”

The California Community Foundation will review the Dolphin Change Program Grant applications. Only agencies that are located in Santa Monica and that have programs that deal with homeless needs will qualify. The grants will be presented on September 25 at the Annual Westside Shelter & Hunger Coalition Breakfast.

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