By Luke Netzley
Pasadena Weekly Deputy Editor
Pasadena nonprofit Friends In Deed shifted from their Bad Weather Shelter to hold supply distribution nights and to offer motel rooms for those experiencing homelessness in the area from January to March.
This was the second consecutive year for the move due to the pandemic protocols.
Friends In Deed began their Bad Weather Shelter in 1988 after a man experiencing homelessness died in his sleep on a bus stop bench during a freezing night.
For more than 30 years, the nonprofit has opened the shelter for those experiencing homelessness to come on nights when the weather was predicted to be 40 degrees or colder or when there was a 40% chance of rain. At the shelter, guests enjoyed hot meals served by volunteer groups from all different congregations, civic groups, clubs, and schools, sleep through the night from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., and keep their personal bedding inside the shelter during the day. The shelter typically ran from the week after Thanksgiving through to the beginning of March.
“With COVID-19, we just couldn’t make a congregate shelter because we were getting 80, 90 and up to 100 people a night from the streets of Pasadena,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, executive director of Friends In Deed. “We made the decision to pivot to a cold weather supply distribution, so we initially partnered with the Pasadena Presbyterian church on Colorado.”
The program initially ran during the first three months of 2021 and was so successful that it will return in 2022, this time at the First United Methodist Church. During supply distribution nights, guests can visit the church at 500 E. Colorado Boulevard and enjoy warm meals, receive important supplies such as tarps, tents, umbrellas, blankets, jackets, shoes, socks, and other articles of clothing. Students from Azusa Pacific Nursing School will once again provide basic, health, wellness and skincare checks.
Supply distribution nights will be 5 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, regardless of the weather, or, like previously, on nights when the weather to forecasted to be colder than 40 degrees or there is more than a 40% chance of rain.
Friends In Deed has also participated in Project Roomkey, a collaboration between California, the Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to help shelter individuals experiencing homelessness by providing secure places for them to sleep in hotel and motel rooms across LA.
“Because we couldn’t have a shelter, the city and the county gave significant funding so that we could offer motel rooms on cold and rainy nights.”
On the nights of inclement weather, the nonprofit provides a limited one-night motel room stays for the most vulnerable members of the community, including the elderly, immuno-compromised, and those with mobility issues. To find out whether this program is activated for the night, the community can call 1-888-915-8111 each day for automated information.
“To see the look in someone’s eyes when they see that we care, when they see that we’re there to welcome them with a smile and that they can stay clean and stay warm… that makes all the difference.”
The work that Friends In Deed has done and continues to do is both moving and crucial given the hardships of the past two years, but they cannot do it alone.
“Friends In Deed is about compassion, connection and dignity. That’s really important to us, and so we need people who are willing to help provide that.”
As a nonprofit, Friends In Deed depends on development, grants, fundraising efforts and other forms of philanthropy to maintain their mission and to continue helping the local homeless community. For more information, visit friendsindeedpas.org.