By Matthew Rodriguez
Pasadena Weekly Deputy Editor

After its old minivan broke down on the side of the highway, Centennial Place was in desperate need of a new vehicle.

“Our van at Centennial Place broke down, and we were in urgent need of a new mode of transport for our residents,” stated Anne Miskey, CEO of Union Station Homeless Services.

Centennial Place is one of the three permanent supportive housing complexes that Union Station owns in Pasadena. They provide on-site case management and supportive services for very low-income adults. The facility houses 142 residents who are formerly homeless. The old minivan was the lifeline for many residents. It allowed them to travel to medical appointments, get money orders to pay rent and get groceries.

“This is a population that has been identified as needing case management services,” said the program manager Jacob Friedman. “The population really struggles to get to appointments, to follow through on assigned tasks, to make appointments. The vehicle frees my team up to be able to get them there.”

After learning of this need and looking for organizations to assist for their 35th anniversary, the Patron Saints Foundation donated a new Honda Pilot to Centennial Place.

“When the foundation decided to celebrate its 35th anniversary we distilled from a very lengthy list of potential candidates of who we would give this special one-time grant,” said Patron Saints executive director Kathleen Shannon. “Union Station came to the forefront because of the homeless situation that everyone is facing in Southern California.”

The Patron Saints Foundation was created in 1979 to raise funds for the not-for-profit St. Luke Hospital in Pasadena, however, when the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange sold the hospital they retained the $2.8 million endowment that allowed the foundation to continue serving the community. The endowment has since grown to $15 million, and Patron Saints continues to fund public charities that care for the local community’s health.

“Having this vehicle gives us the ability to help someone on the spot,” Friedman said. “This gives us the opportunity for another case manager to step in and say, ‘I can take you over.’”

While they waited to buy a new vehicle, the case managers would borrow vehicles from different facilities. The round trip to pick up the vehicle would take 40 minutes to an hour. The extra time needed to help their clients hampered their ability to help them.

The new Pilot freed up the staff to help more clients, some of whom could not afford a bus pass or for any other public transportation.

“It frees up my team, not just to support the clients more effectively but also more efficiently,” Friedman said. “We can do two transports in the amount of time it took to do one.”

Additionally, case managers accompany their clients to appointments to ensure they are getting the assistance they need and to help them through the process of getting care.

“I would like to thank (Patron Saints) on behalf of our team and all 142 residents at Centennial Place who will certainly benefit,” Friedman said. “I hope they know how much of an impact they’ve made by donating this vehicle.”