Even though they come from different economic backgrounds, cultures, as well as continents and childhood experiences, Renate and Mel Cohen have forged a 53-year marriage based on love – for each other, their family, and the Pasadena community they’ve called home for decades.
On paper, their differences could be problematic: he was a saxplaying, jazz-loving American G.I. who grew up poor in East Los Angeles; she’s from a large cultured family in Stuttgart, Germany who was raised on theatre and concerts. But the Arcadia couple have a common affection for the arts, and a strong desire to give back and be of service to the community. An insurance broker for more than 40 years, Mel has been active in the Pasadena charitable landscape with leadership stints for the Tournament of Roses, Rotary and Optimist Clubs as well as the Pasadena City College Foundation. Renate, who has a background in the financial industry, is a member of many Pasadena-area organizations such as the Pasadena Symphony and the LA County Arboretum Foundation.
Establishing one of PCF’s newest Endowment Builder Funds, the Cohens are directing their fund to local organizations that support homeless services. The decision was in part based on Mel’s personal childhood. “We were on welfare, it was no secret,” he says. “We were the only Jewish people living in the projects back then. Coming from that background I need to give back, to be involved.” Renate wholeheartedly agrees. “We all believe that the homeless situation has gotten so out of hand and it shouldn’t be in our country,” she explains. “My heart goes out to those individuals. I believe for so many, unfortunate circumstances resulted in their homelessness.” The couple is thankful that PCF provides them with an ongoing avenue to make a difference in the community that’s given them so much over the years.
This restricted endowment supports PCF’s grantmaking to combat homelessness.