It’s a problem that isn’t going away, the fact that 53,000 people in Los Angeles County are homeless, including 5,000 children.
Offering more than a ray of hope, is, well, a Door of Hope, a 30-year-old nonprofit agency in Pasadena that exists to help families land back on their feet by providing programs and services, training in life management, therapy and more so they can transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency and, eventually, to permanent housing.
The most important quality of life Door of Hope can give someone, noted Rev. Megan Katerjian, the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s 4th annual South Pasadena Prayer Breakfast at Holy Family Church, is simply hope.
Hope that a better future is ahead them.
People come to the Door of Hope with all kinds of needs that must be addressed and the organization has programs in place to meet “all of those needs,” explained Katerjain. “When they walk through our door, the most important thing we can do is to remind them that God has a plan for a future with a home. You see, hope is a universal concept. We read it on campaign slogans, see it in commercials. It’s even the theme of next year’s Rose Parade. It’s so easy to make it this vague, optimistic, fluffy kind of word. We need to remember that hope is most important during the darkest times of our lives, during times of transition, rather than certainty.”
Katerjian joined Door of Hope, whose mission is to equip families with all that it takes to rebuild their lives, as its executive director in the fall of 2017. Those who come to the Door of Hope often arrive on the worst day of their life, pointed out Katerjian in her prayer breakfast message, walking in after losing a job, being evicted from their home, having burned through their savings account, slept in cars – all kinds of needs that are addressed by Katerjian and her staff.
“It’s the hardest times in life that will prepare you with a future with hope,” she told audience members.
Katerjian has seen lives transformed through Door of Hope. “I’ve witnessed a father get his two sons out of foster care, a mother get reunited with her daughter and parents brimming with pride over the news that their daughters made the honor roll,” she wrote in the event’s program. “For every one story of life change I’ve witnessed personally, I have heard dozens more from the dedicated staff who work with these families everyday. It was largely in seeing and hearing about these everyday miracles that I increasingly felt God’s call. I didn’t just want to serve occasionally at a place like Door of Hope. I wanted Door of Hope’s mission – to equip families experiencing homelessness to rebuild their lives – to become my mission.”
Introducing Katerjian was South Pasadena City Councilmember Robert Joe, noting that the Door of Hope is an organization that “provides solutions to the challenges of homelessness that often seem insurmountable.”
Joe, who serves on the Door of Hope board of directors, said Katerjian “is passionate about serving poor and underserved people. Her journey of perseverance is inspiring.”
Door of Hope is a non-profit with a mission to equip families and children experiencing homelessness to rebuild their lives.
The agency was founded in 1985 by Steve and Iris Lazarian, at the time members of Lake Avenue Church, who spent long hours volunteering to help those in need. They took action when a two-parent family became homeless. “They would be split up, as there was no one equipped to serve the entire family unit,” reads a segment on the Door of Hope website. “Most of the time, the father would go one way, and the mother and kids would go elsewhere”
The Lazarian’s could watch the heartbreak of families being torn apart, and, fortunately, while driving along Los Robles Avenue in Pasadena one day they came upon an old, dilapidated house for sale and made the decision to purchase it.
Soon their dream of helping others was realized with the founding of Door of Hope.
According to the its website, unlike most homeless service organizations where families are separated, the Door of Hope program keeps the family unit together as they work towards their end goal of achieving permanent housing.
The organization claims to have an 82 percent success rate with families who graduate from the program.
The Door of Hope leadership has six core values in guiding the program, allowing families to escape the cycle of homelessness. Door of Hope staff seek to live them daily as they work with families and plan with them on how best to achieve their goals.
Those core values include being compassionate, Christ-centered without showing discrimination or prejudice, holistic in caring about the whole family, fostering excellence in its programs, relational in creating a sense of community and empowering, providing families the tools they need to succeed.
Nancy Norris, who serves on the prayer breakfast committee, opened the prayer breakfast program by welcoming the guests, followed by the presentation of colors and Pledge of Allegiance by Boy Scouts Troop 342, the invocation by Cambria Tortorelli, parish life director at Holy Family Catholic Church and a moving song – “You Raise Me Up” – by Rev. Sam Park.
Rev. Lincoln Skinner, the committee chairman, addressed audience members with some encouraging words before Frank Ponnet, the committee vice chair, thanked the sponsors in four different categories – diamond, platinum, gold and silver – for their enormous generosity.
Skinner said the mission for the prayer breakfast is to seek to gather the community together, to pray and serve with a commitment to care, connect and cooperate.
As a result of the first three prayer breakfasts, organizers have raised roughly $12,000 that will support local nonprofits. With those funds, Skinner said 1,200 disasters kits have been distributed to people at risk – the elderly, senior citizens, children and families going through hard transitions in life. The kits provide the core essentials and “are proven to be a life saving devise,” explained Skinner, “and with your help today, and this prayer breakfast, we will be able to continue to distribute those kits.”
And, offer hope.
He mentioned that local clergy in the city gather each year before the first day of school in August “to lift up all our school, administrators and city officials, in prayer.”
The prayer breakfast program concluded with a performance from the South Pasadena Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Children’s Choir, prayers for the community from South Pasadena clergy and closing remarks.
The prayer breakfast is chaired by Lincoln Skinner, Frank Ponnet as the vice chair, Treasurer Tom Stone, Clerk Nancy Norris and committee members Laurie Astle, Bob Joe, Jon Primuth and Ted Shaw.