The National Association of Social Workers in Santa Monica awarded John Maceri, executive director of the Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC), the Public Citizen of the Year on March 11.
Maceri has received numerous recognition and awards for his volunteer work, much of which is done to help the Santa Monica and the Westside homeless populations.
“Beyond the statistics are the real people we work with every day,” Maceri said at the February 22 Social Services Commission meeting where the results of this year’s Homeless Count were resented indicating a 20 percent drop.
Maceria was referencing the importance of not only counting the City’s homeless, but also making sure they are more than faceless numbers. Services are important, but the ultimate goal is housing, he said. “This work is a marathon, not a sprint. It is about one person – one life at a time.”
He believes the greatest rewards have been the satisfaction of helping others and building a stronger community.
“We need the support of our neighbors and friends who believe as we do that a community helping others is a community helping itself,” said Maceri of the OPCC.
Everyday 83 cents of every dollar received by OPCC goes into direct service for its clients.
“We have a bold vision for making our community a better place for all of our residents, regardless of their economic circumstances or the multiple challenges they may be facing,” said Maceri.
PCC was founded in 1963 as a non-profit organization and a community resource center for low-income families in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica. As the needs of the community have changed over the last 45 years, OPCC has evolved into a multi-faceted social service agency serving more than 8,000 people annually, empowering them to rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient.
Today it provides a wide array of programs serving low-income and homeless youth, adults and families, battered women and their children, at-risk youth and people living with mental illness.