oc register
Children who live at the Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope gather at the gate as they wait for a Christmas sleigh full of presents to begin handing out gifts.
I have been blessed to have spent the last 33 years of my life serving the least, the last and the lost of Orange County.
It was not that long ago that residents and elected officials would question if we really had homeless families living among us. Today, we all know better.
I suspect that you, too, agree that certainly no child and no veteran should ever be homeless and living on our streets. I hope that you also agree with me that we must no longer drop social challenges like homelessness on the steps of city hall and our elected leaders.
Through our work at the Rescue Mission, I have seen thousands of men, women and children transform from a homeless existence to become self-sufficient and contributors to our community. This type of transformation is neither easy nor quick.
I have seen thousands of grass roots donors, volunteers, faith-based communities and local corporations come together to partner with the Orange County Rescue Mission to facilitate and provide resources for this restoration.
I’m sure you’re asking yourself, if we are seeing this success, why is homelessness growing so quickly in Orange County?
The bottom line is in this year’s homeless count, Orange County officials estimated that nearly 15,300 people experienced homelessness at least one night in 2015.
We need additional housing linked together with significant transitional services to facilitate transformation. We have many opportunities available. The Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope has averaged a 100 percent occupancy over the last year.
Luckily, we do have another resource. Orange County has experienced a rich heritage of entrepreneurship, corporate growth, innovation, development and capitalization.
We have some of the most brilliant and brightest business leaders in the nation, including Donald Bren of the Irvine Co., Gen. William Lyon of Lyon Homes, Igor Olenicoff of Olen Properties, David Sun and John Tu of Kingston Technologies, Henry Samueli of Broadcom, James Jenard of Red Digital, Bill Gross of Janus Capital, George Argyros of Arnel Properties and Arturo Moreno of Angels baseball.
In such a blessed community, I want to elevate corporate engagement to a new level that creates a significant pool of social capital that can be strategically focused on eliminating homelessness for our children and veterans.
My one and only wish this Christmas is that the above mentioned corporate titans and business leaders, and the many others like them here in Orange County, take a moment and join with me in strategically capitalizing the resources, facilities and programs that are necessary to provide a hand-up to the least, the last and the lost of our community.
We can do this together. Now is the time to end homelessness for our children and our veterans.
Jim Palmer is president of Orange County Rescue Mission (www.RescueMission.org).
Read this article in the OC Register by clicking here.