Employees from Santa Monica-headquartered car-shopping site Edmunds.com embarked on a series of volunteer and city appreciation activities last Tuesday, July 22.
With organization from the Santa Monica Housing and Economic Development Department (HED), about 600 Edmunds.com employees and executives participated in the first-of-its-kind “Edmunds.com Pursue Your Passion in Santa Monica.”
Event organizers scheduled 12 activities that Edmunds.com employees could choose from, ranging from creative outlets like painting and art appreciation, educational opportunities like musical instruction and food preparation, and exercise classes like yoga and cycling.
Included in the activities was a volunteer event at the Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC)’s housing programs.
OPCC seeks to connect its clients to permanent housing and offers interim housing during the time it takes for other options to become available.
The Cloverfield facility, which is where an Edmunds.com barbecue took place, provides clients with two interim housing programs for the homeless: Safe Haven and Daybreak.
About 25 Edmunds.com employees spent a portion of their afternoon barbecuing lunch, serving food, and socializing with dozens of clients in OPCC’s outdoor courtyard area.
“As far as labor goes, we have more than enough volunteers,” volunteer Jeannine Fallon, executive director of corporate communications at Edmunds, Inc., said. “What’s more important than lunch is the interaction that we [employees] have with the [OPCC clients].”
Fallon emphasized the importance of encouraging the clients and creating a welcoming aura from the community.
“We’re hoping to make events like this a regular occurrence,” Fallon said. “Edmunds is just down the street in the water garden, and the proximity makes for an amazing opportunity.”
Michael Pegues, Events & Outreach Coordinator at OPCC, elaborated on the Safe Haven and Daybreak programs and provided a tour of the facilities in order to supplement an in-depth understanding of the interim housing situations, which serve “3,000 unduplicated clients a year.”
Safe Haven is an adults-only, no-harm reduction program that serves chronically homeless individuals who have encountered difficulty connecting with service providers.
Safe Haven makes sure to keep in mind the lifelong nature of mental health and addiction disorders, and accordingly employs high tolerance for relapses as a part of the recovery process.
Safe Haven offers aisles of dormitories that serve as interim housing for its clients, with a general allowed duration of three to nine months, though the time span certainly depends on the individual’s respective life situation and can be lenient. It is clear from the get-go how clean and well-kept the Safe Haven living quarters are.
“We are strict on cleanliness in order to foster good permanent housing habits,” Pegues explained. “We keep high expectations for the aesthetic and maintenance of the facilities.”
Quality protection and privacy are also among Safe Haven’s esteemed standards, especially because those being housed are not accustomed to living in a safe, secure environment.
Located on the floor above Safe Haven is Daybreak, OPCC’s other interim housing program. Brightly lit and cheerfully decorated by its residents, Daybreak specifically serves homeless women with mental illnesses, many of whom have undergone nights of fear and abuse.
OPCC also provides respite care and works with local hospitals such as UCLA and St. Joseph’s.
There are always opportunities for volunteers, with orientations held on the second Tuesday evening of every month.
Safe Haven and Daybreak are located at the OPCC Cloverfield Services Center at 1751 Cloverfield Blvd. For more information, call 310.264.6646 or visit opcc.net.