Pasadena Community Foundation Funds

Mel & Renate Cohen Endowment for the Homeless

Renate and Mel Cohen

The Mel & Renate Cohen Endowment supports Pasadena Community Foundation’s grantmaking in the area of human services, specifically combating homelessness. This is a Fund for Pasadena, which benefits local organizations working to sustain and uplift our community.

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 saxophone-playing, jazz-loving, American G.I. who grew up poor in East Los Angeles; she is from a large, cultured family in Stuttgart, Germany who was raised on theater 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.

As one of PCF’s Endowment Builders, the Cohens established their fund to benefit local organizations that support homeless services. The decision was, in part, based on Mel’s childhood. “We were on welfare, and 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 and 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 that 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.

The Power of Endowment
Endowments are the cornerstone of PCF’s mission to build hometown legacies. The corpus of each endowed fund is invested with PCF’s portfolio for long-term growth. Each year, the endowments generate the funds that support PCF’s local grantmaking, which enriches the arts community, protects our environment, provides health care and critical social services, and bolsters public education in Pasadena. Endowments are permanent legacies for our community; these funds will continue to grow and provide philanthropic support forever.

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