Published : Sunday, April 9, 2017 | 4:39 AM
Local churches and community advocates will take to the streets Sunday for a Palm Sunday Peace Parade where an expected 200 community members will trek from the Reformation Lutheran Church to the Paseo Colorado with a focus on this year’s theme of raising awareness about homelessness.
The family-friendly Parade has taken place since 2003 in response to the war in Iraq and has continued on for more than a decade to promote peace for just one day and bring a community together to help tackle important issues that exist not only in our society, but also our city.
“We’re committed in every way we can to end homelessness in Pasadena. We’re really happy this year that we are able to get all of these people to commit to ending homelessness and ensuring affordable housing for everybody in this city,” said Parade organizer Dr. Jill Shook.
This year’s theme follows suit in not only homelessness awareness, but also ending it entirely, in which the march on Palm Sunday calls for actions such as rent stabilization and an increase in accessory dwelling units (“granny flats”) as well as policies like Housing First that can end chronic homelessness.
Parade goers will gather at the church to listen to brief inspirational words from community members followed by the parade itself on a route that ends at the Paseo Colorado.
“We’ll go out with palm branches in one hand and peace signs in the other. The whole point of Palm Sunday is that it’s a celebration,” said Shook.
This year’s Parade will feature Dorothy Edwards, a formerly homeless woman who now serves on the board of directors for a Housing Works, a program that provides permanent supportive housing and support services to the chronically homeless.
“When I was homeless, I felt that I was in a subculture and I always wanted to be a part of my community. Even though I didn’t have anything to offer and no stability or anything, it was something that I eventually strived for because I knew that I was not going to be out there forever on my own on the streets. I feel great that I am able to give back to the community that helped me so much when i was homeless and to fight for those who are still living in despair,” said Edwards.
Today, Edwards lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Pasadena with her dog, Gunner.
“It takes a village to help with homelessness, and in my case it takes many villages. Community involvement is huge, City Council is important and just to be active in your community and supporting the agencies that help the homeless,” said Edwards who has lived in permanent supportive housing since 2012.
The Parade will also feature Karen Roberson, former executive director of Family Promise, a program that works with churches to house homeless families; Will Watts, Directing Attorney for the Homelessness Prevention Law Project at Public Counsel, which seeks to address the needs of individuals throughout the City and County of Los Angeles who are homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless.
After this Parade, Dr. Shook is organizing a “Homeless to Housed Bus Tour” that will help churches better understand what Pasadena is doing to house homeless people, and how churches can partner more effectively with the city to end homelessness.
The bus tour, which is invite only, is intended to get churches that are involved in feeding programs and can use assistance learning how to lead homeless people into a supportive housing situation.
“The whole goal of the bus tour is, ‘what does it take to get people housed? How do we tap into what the City is already doing and how do we will in those missing gaps?,” said Shook.
The Palm Sunday Peace Parade is sponsored by a coalition of churches and community groups including Orange Grove Friends (Quaker) Meeting, Pasadena Mennonite Church, Reformation Church Pasadena, First Congregational Church of Pasadena, Progressive Christians Uniting, Knox Presbyterian Church, Urban Village of Pasadena, Maryknoll Affiliates of Los Angeles, Crescenta Valley Methodist Church, Montrose Peace Vigil, All Saints Church (Pasadena), Holliston Community Church, and Trinity Nazarene Church (Monterey Park).
Currently, Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church, Friendship Baptist Church and Holliston Church offer weekly rotations of shelter for the homeless.
The Palm Sunday Peace Parade will be held on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. and will begin at Reformation Lutheran Church located at 570 E. Orange Grove and end at the Paseo.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/PeaceParades/