By Karen Greene
The mission of Union Station is to provide homeless men, women and children with the means to transform their lives so they can become productive, stable and self-supporting. This organization and its Executive Director, Rabbi Marvin Gross, believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every individual and strive to provide the highest quality of services based on a foundation of respect for all people.
THE Magazine: What project has Union Station completed in the last year that symbolizes how Union Station wishes to be seen in the eyes of the community?
Marvin Gross: We have successfully completed construction of our 20-bed women’s dorm as well as an overall expansion of our Adult Center on Raymond Avenue. We are committed to expanding our services and have made major additions to our programs in recent years. Since opening in 1973, we have established an adult shelter, family shelter, the Euclid Villa 14-unit transitional housing facility for families and Passageways, our career development program.
THE Magazine: What life experiences played a significant role in making you the person you are today?
Marvin Gross: In the 1980s, learned of Union Station Foundation through my work as a rabbi in a Glendale synagogue and my collaboration with Reverend George Regas, rector of the All Saints Church. After 10 years with the Jewish Federation Council of Los Angeles, I accepted the position of Executive Director at Union Station in 1995.
Spending a year on a kibbutz in Israel impressed upon me the value of hard work. I also carry with me the bible’s message of social justice. My religious studies have instilled in me the importance of community service and what tasks we should undertake.
I also should mention that Union Station is a non-sectarian grass roots organization and is not affiliated with any religion. Our volunteers and staff come from every faith group, and our mission is simply to help our fellow community members.
THE Magazine: What factors need to be addressed to improve our Region?
Marvin Gross: Unfortunately, the level of poverty in the San Gabriel Valley is pretty profound. There is a vast gap between those with lower and higher incomes. Occidental College Professor Peter Dreier recently examined the census data for our area and found that the Pasadena area has one of the greatest income gaps in the state. People go hungry here – and this is definitely an issue. Additional factors that need to be addressed include a lack of affordable housing, the rising cost of health care and the lack of universal health insurance, traffic congestion and inequality between our communities.
THE Magazine: What is your favorite characteristic about the Pasadena and Foothills Region?
Marvin Gross: I enjoy the cultural and ethnic diversity of our Region. I enjoy visiting the Norton Simon, and I love getting lunch at Tonny’s Mexican…