Meeting people where they are is our hallmark. For the past 50 years, CLARE|MATRIX has been a beacon of hope for thousands of people. We’ve redefined what it means to recover and grown into an organization firmly rooted in the belief that every person should get the care they need. This belief does not stop with those that walk through our doors—it goes beyond, into the streets, beaches, and alleyways. From our origins of passing out food and supplies to homeless individuals on the beach almost half a century ago to the current work we do through our Bridges to Recovery Initiative, funded through the Grants for the Benefit of Homeless Individuals (GBHI), we remain committed to reaching every life we can.
In the past seven years, homelessness in Los Angeles has increased by 59%. It’s in our faces everywhere we go—yet too easily avoided and rarely ever discussed on an individual level. To be homeless means much more than not having a home. It means interacting with people that refuse to make eye contact with you or returning to your encampment only to find that everything you own has been discarded. It means sore feet, burned skin, hunger, thirst, and fear. Asking for help when you don’t feel worthy of it and when people won’t even look at you is a daunting task. That’s where we come in.
“Most of the people that we find experiencing homelessness won’t come to us for services, so we go where they are” shared Jolan Dawson, the Bridges to Recovery Initiative Director for CLARE|MATRIX. Jolan works with a team of four, solely dedicated to our work on the frontlines of recovery. Any one of Jolan’s team can be found as early as sunrise combing the streets of Santa Monica and West Los Angeles searching for people that may not otherwise seek help.
Once someone is ready to work with us for the betterment of their lives, follow-through is everything. “With most treatment programs, once you’re discharged, you’re on your own,” Jolan added, “our program is designed to work with people for an extended period of time – for up to a year – so they can one day lead self-sufficient lives.” Recovery for people experiencing homelessness is unique because many times they have nothing left but hope. CLARE|MATRIX uses that spark of hope to guide people closer to finding their purpose.
Outreach and retention for Bridges to Recovery at CLARE|MATRIX means compassion and consistency go hand in hand. Our persistence to help someone may be just the push they need to begin loving themselves again.
Richard, one of the Initiative’s many success stories, started his journey with us while sleeping in local parks. He shared “the hardest part about being homeless was the shame. I couldn’t go into a store or talk to people walking past without being looked down on. I didn’t feel like a person anymore”. These reasons, and many more, keep countless people just like Richard from asking for help. This is why, at CLARE|MATRIX, help reaches out for them. Richard was admitted into our residential treatment program and transitioned into recovery housing with us by his side every step of the way. He stated that “CLARE|MATRIX helped me start doing all the things I was scared of doing before—like working on my other issues that I would always drink or use over. I’ve been able to rebuild relationships and become trustworthy again”.
Through GBHI, we continue doing our life-saving work on the frontlines of recovery—carrying on our tradition of always being there for anyone that needs our help. Our purpose is to be the hope when all hope is lost; to provide a way out for somebody that didn’t even know that’s what they wanted. This is who we are.
*Special thanks to the GBHI administrator, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for their funding to make expanding and strengthening treatment services for people experiencing homelessness possible for many more people.