By Tod Lipka, Step Up on Second President and CEO
I wanted to share great news with you; yesterday was the press conference to launch the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation which has pledged it’s support in ending homelessness. Held at My Friends Place (MFP) a homeless youth drop-in center in Hollywood, some 40 media reps were there with videos and cameras going a mile a minute. Before the press conference, Kobe and Vanessa met privately with some of the youth from MFP to hear their stories.
With the launch of the press conference, Heather Carmichael, who runs MFP, briefly described what MFP does and introduced Kobe. Kobe said he was really moved by the stories he had just heard and that he is still in the learning phase, but that they plan to address this problem. He said that being an NBA player is nothing compared to the challenges that some of the kids faced that he met.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky spoke and talked about how homelessness is a stain on the landscape of the city of LA. I then stepped up to the mike and spoke about homelessness in LA, mental illness, permanent supportive housing, and Step Up’s housing projects.
Then the four of us stood up together and Kobe took questions from the media. It was a humbling experience standing there; it seemed like hundreds of flash bulbs were constantly going off every second. Kobe and Vanessa were clearly moved by the stories they heard. When asked if he was serious about the foundation addressing homelessness, he said that the media knew him and that when he goes after something, he really goes after it!
You can view the press conference here.
The power of this has tremendous potential to highlight our work and this will be very big for solving homelessness in LA. This is a great time for Step Up and we thank you for your continued support.