A memorial service was held on Saturday at All Saints Church for a local resident and former Congressional Woman of the Year, whose life has been described as an amazing journey of redemption and recovery.
More than 100 people attended services for Dorothy Edwards, a former homeless person who became a prominent advocate for those still suffering on the streets, who died at the age of 65 after a battle with cancer.
The City Council adjourned in Edwards’ honor earlier this month.
Edwards was born in nearby Monrovia on August 17 and grew up in Hacienda Heights.
She is survived by her siblings, Sharon Godinez; Barbara Peterson; Jeanette Rhodes; Sewell Edwards Jr. and Roberta Edwards and several nieces, cousins and nephews.
Edwards served as an Enrichment Services Coordinator at Housing Works of California, a role she had held since 2014. Edwards served there as an Advocate LA Supportive Housing Advocate Program; traveling all over the United States advocating for the homeless.
Edwards’ journey from homelessness to advocacy was a testament to her resilience and determination. She and her dog, Gunner, had lived under a freeway overpass in Pasadena. During that time, she struggled with addiction issues and faced the harsh realities of life on the streets
According to Housing Director Bill Huang, in 2010, the City identified Edwards as one of the unhoused persons in Pasadena who was most likely to die if not housed.
She was featured in a 2019 Pasadena Weekly article written by Justin Chapman.
“When you’re homeless for a long time you feel like you’re less than and not enough but Bill Huang and Shawn Morrisey always made me feel welcome,” Edwards told Chapman. “I’m really a stronger person today because of the encouragement I had. It’s important what I’m doing. My voice is important and I know in my heart that I’ve found my passion. Now I want to pay it forward and those who are still on the street.”
The City provided Edwards with outreach services and housing.
She was identified by Housing Works, an agency that used a blended approach to ending homelessness called “supportive housing.” This approach combined providing permanent housing with “wrap-around” services to support an individual and help them stay off the streets in the long term.
Initially, Edwards was very skeptical but eventually decided to give the City services a try.
The results were remarkable and changed her life.
After she was permanently housed in Pasadena, got clean and sober, got teeth, and a job, became an advocate and remained in her same unit for about 10 years until she died.