Black-led Organizations Bring Hope & Comfort to Pasadena Residents

Clockwise from top left: Allen Edson, President, Pasadena Chapter of the NAACP; Akila Gibbs, Executive Director, Pasadena Senior Center; Charles (Pastor) and Myhisha Myles (Director of Operations), Harvest Village Ministries Family Church

PCF is proud to support local Black-led organizations that are directly responding to community members with hope, food and comfort. Here are just a few indispensable organizations that have made a significant difference over the last eight months. Although their missions differ, each leader has the same passionate determination — to continue to serve despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic.

Pasadena Senior Center

Established more than 50 years ago, the center is a nonprofit agency and receives no official funding from the City of Pasadena. Outreach and expense have increased while revenue has dropped considerably. Even so, the Center’s doors are open on a limited basis (weekdays only) for social services and other assistance.

Programs for at-home seniors include: Telephone Reassurance (volunteers call daily for a friendly check-in chat); Lunch and Emergency Food Delivery (coordinating with local YWCA), Case Management Help, Weekly Zoom Social Hour, and Online Exercise/Artmaking Classes.

“Since COVID, we have placed more than 15,000 phone calls and delivered 8,000 bags of food,” says Akila Gibbs, Executive Director who explains that 14 percent of older adults are living below the poverty line. “We hear from seniors who, even though there is a rent moratorium, are facing evictions. We connect them with pro-bono attorneys. If we are not here for them, who will these seniors turn to? So many have no one.”

NAACP – Pasadena Chapter

Formed more than 100 years ago, the Pasadena Chapter of the NAACP protects, defends and advocates for the civil and human rights of the minority people, especially African American citizens. Realizing that COVID is financially impacting Black-owned small businesses, the Chapter launched a Stimulus Program that awards grants of $2,000, funds that can be used for payroll, rent, inventory and other pressing needs.

“The funds from the CARES Act didn’t come far down enough to our local level,” explains Allen Edson, president of the Pasadena chapter. “We started giving out grants in May and our goal is to support 100 local businesses, so we have to raise $200,000. So far, we have distributed to local restaurants, beauty supply stores, newspapers, preschools and a woman’s shelter. My biggest concern these days is the health of our community. So many African Americans have pre-existing conditions.”

Harvest Village Ministries Family Church

Ministries are the backbone of Harvest Village Family Church which sends community members throughout the area to address specific needs of the community including violence intervention and prevention and facilitating life skills programs at Pasadena public high schools. With the onset of the pandemic, church organizers knew that some families would have difficulties obtaining food and groceries, especially families that have members with compromised immune systems, loss of income, elderly, and children newborn through high school.

Today, the church’s Food Bank Delivery Support coordinates with local food banks and the Pasadena Public Health Department to make-at-home “no contact” deliveries. In September alone, the ministry provided food for more than 500 families (nearly 1,500 people).

“We find that many undocumented community members are afraid to ask for help. These people are left out of traditional networks. We partner with other organizations to find them, but so often, they fall through the cracks,” says Myhisha Myles, Director of Operations. “Even here in Pasadena, you can find families living tenement style with 15 people crammed into a two-bedroom apartment.” Our goal is to find all who need help and connect them with the services Pasadena has to offer.