Whenever this editor sees a homeless individual in the Village or along Temescal Canyon Park, a photo is taken and instantly sent to the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH).
When this homeless woman (pictured) was walking down to the beach on Sunday morning, wrapped only in a blanket – no clothes, the response from the task force was immediate. Later, the woman, who was now walking around the village, had on a hoodie, a top and shorts.
The PPTFH, a volunteer group which was formed in October 2014, announced that Carmen Kalberg and Cindi Young will serve as co-presidents, starting January 2024.
“We are excited about the opportunity to lead PPTFH into its 10th year,” said Kalberg who joined the PPTFH volunteer response team in 2018. “Being able to engage and offer compassionate assistance to people experiencing homelessness has been the most rewarding volunteer work I have done.”
In 2021, she was joined by neighbor Cindi Young who was curious about the PPTFH. “She accompanied me, along with Sharon Kilbride (current co-president), on my Wednesday beach rounds.”
The volunteer response team consists of individuals who visit different areas of the town, looking for those who might need services. “A wonderful friendship and partnership was born out of our common interest to help those who are experiencing homelessness,” Kalberg said.
The two walk the beach areas pulling a little blue wagon filled with snacks, water and hygiene kits. Occasionally, Missy, Young’s friendly puppy rides along. “We call Missy our secret weapon, as few can resist her charms,” Kalberg said.
The PPTFH was formed in 2014, when the City of Los Angeles told Pacific Palisades, which was inundated with homeless people, that nothing could be done. The homeless could not be arrested, and legally they could live on the streets.
Compassion took over and money was raised to hire two social workers ($300k+) that could help those suffering on the streets. Aiding the paid workers was a task force of community volunteers.
A beach detail, started by the Los Angeles Police Department, allowed law enforcement to go into brush areas, in the very high fire severity zone and cite people who were illegally camping.
Since 2016, 183 of the individuals who were engaged by PPTFH are off the streets. There is a 71-percent reduction in the number of homeless individuals. More than 1,847 new and abandoned campsites have been removed and the brush returned to its native state. In 2023, about 533 abandoned campsites were cleaned. The fire department has extinguished at least seven homeless fires.
All of the money raised by this nonprofit goes directly to aid the homeless. The group lost its volunteer treasurer in 2020. No one wanted to take over the accounting duties for free, so the organization restructured and partnered with The People Concern, who became the fiscal sponsor.
Money is still needed to pay the social workers, who work strictly in the Palisades. People can donate on the PPTFH website and know that the money will stay in this area click here.
Young spoke about taking over the leadership position. “Carmen and I are extremely fortunate that the leadership of dedicated members who created PPTFH have agreed to remain as advisors and mentors through our first year managing the organization.”
Kalberg said, “Cindi and I will focus on growing the PPTFH Volunteer Response Team. We are seeking to recruit community centric teams – volunteers 18 years and older who will cover the area in and near their own neighborhoods, searching for homeless individuals in need.”
Volunteers will be trained to evaluate, engage and inform individuals of services available to them, such as assistance with identification cards, lost drivers licenses and Social Security cards, clothing, medical and dental examinations, interim shelter and eventually permanent supportive housing.
“Community centric teams will make outreach more effective because, well, who knows their neighborhoods better than the neighbors who live there?” Young said.
There are many ways to support PPTFH.
Each Wednesday, a group of volunteers called the Brown Bag Brigade assemble fresh lunches which are collected by The People Concern service providers for distribution at the Wednesday morning Meet-Up held at Will Rogers Beach.
Volunteers are needed to assemble hygiene kits, which are offered to homeless individuals by the Volunteer Response Teams. Social workers use lunches and hygiene kits as a way of reaching out to and establishing trust with many who might be service resistant.
The new co-presidents said, “If you have technical, communications or fundraising skills, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will contact you.
“The bottom line is, the more volunteers we have to support PPTFH, the better job we can do addressing homelessness in Pacific Palisades,” the two said.
PPTFH’s first president was Maryam Zar in 2015. Doug McCormick served as president from 2016 to the first quarter of 2020. Sharon Browning and Sharon Kilbride have served as co-presidents from 2020-2023. Money was raised in 2022 to hire a clinical case manager to assist the two social workers, to help those homeless with mental issues.