October 4 – October 10, 2007
By Mary Ann Mace
PASADENA – With his new clothes and fresh Metro Rail pass in hand, Gregory Sandoval, 25, is anticipating the first day at his new job with great excitement. Like anyone else embarking upon a new endeavor, there is a little anxiety mixed in with the anticipation. Yet, while Gregory’s first day jitters are common to many, the journey to this juncture in his life is not typical. For Gregory didn’t buy his new pants and shirt nor did he purchase his rail pass. He won’t be departing to work from his apartment or house. Gregory is a resident at Union Station Foundation, a transitional housing shelter, and his new clothes and Metro pass were provided to him by the organization as a gift for his achievement.
“I can’t wait to start to change my life around,” stated Gregory. “To have a place that’s all mine and keep a steady job.”
Indeed, these goals are not just the goals of a young man, they are the goals of Union Station, and Gregory’s transition is symbolic of the foundation’s aspirations for each of its residents.
Fittingly, Union Station Foundation as well recently celebrated its own milestone with the completion of a multi-year construction project to expand and renovate the Adult Center on Raymond Ave. Civic leaders, benefactors, volunteers, staff and guests gathered at the center Sept. 28, to tour the expanded facility and honor the accomplishment.
“We are thrilled,” commented Rabbi Marvin Gross, Union Station executive director, “that the completion of construction of our women’s dorm and the expansion of our Adult Center means that we will be able to aid many more homeless women rebuild their lives and become stable and self-sufficient members of the community. We’ve worked toward this day for a number of years,” Rabbi Gross added, “and reaching this goal is exciting for our organization and personally gratifying for me. This Grand Opening is a moment of joy for all of us.”
Launching the festivities by proclaiming “we did it,” Rabbi Gross was successively joined by state and city dignitaries who commented upon the foundation’s landmark achievement. Among the headlining guests was Bank of America Senior Vice President Kathi McClure-Wight who awarded the foundation with a $10,000 donation from the bank.
“We call Bank of America ‘the bank of opportunity,”’ stated McClure-Wight. “Union Station Foundation provides the opportunity to transform goals within reach and dreams into reality.” She further added that the foundation’s success is a “statement to the passionate commitment of the (Pasadena) community.”
As well, the state and Los Angeles County each presented their contributions of $1 million. Representing the State of California, Senator Jack Scott commented on Union Station’s commitment to helping the homeless through a “hand up,” not a “handout.”
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard remarked the facility’s improvements would enable Union Station to “treat its clients with a higher level of dignity” and commented on the decade as the “dawn of a great level of progress to end homelessness.”
At conclusion, Rabbi Gross acknowledged the hard work and diligence of staff and volunteers who persevered at their jobs throughout the construction phase. In particular, the kitchen volunteers were singled out as enduring some of the greatest challenges which occurred while the dining and kitchen facilities were renovated. Although judging by the comments of kitchen volunteers Bob Raymond and Alfred Gonzalez, they managed all right in spite of the obstacles.
For Raymond, he would “adjust to whatever was going on,” and Gonzalez kept himself going with the understanding he could “provide that little bit of sustenance.”
The same attitude is shared by Union Station supporters and staff who embrace a steadfast belief in the foundation’s mission and goals. Through their dedication, these individuals have helped in transitioning men, women and families from homeless to self-sustain. Now with an expanded and upgraded facility, Union Station can expect to impact the lives of many more individuals enabling them to attain life-changing transformations, just like Gregory Sandoval.
For information about Union Station Foundation and its programs including SOURCES, a job development and career placement program, visit their website at www.unionstationhs.org or call Union Station at (626) 240-4550.