Good evening. My name is Natalie Brown, I am 11 years old and in the sixth grade. I am grateful to be one of the winners of the Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest of 2014. I am thrilled to be here tonight because my essay was about housing and homelessness.
My family attends church in Pasadena and I go to school in Sierra Madre. My dad, who is a doctor, would volunteer his services for Elizabeth House and Door of Hope residents. One day I was in the car with my mom waiting for the light to turn green at Michillinda and Foothill Blvd. I saw a young man that was dirty, thin, had dark hair and somewhat dark skin. He was standing on the middle island, holding a sign, and he looked hungry. I thought, why is he here, he is too young to be here. We saw him there more than just that day and each time we drove past my heart sank. We would be listening to happy music and then we would see him and each time my heart felt heavy.
I do not want to be remembered as a person who did nothing in this world. I want to make a positive impact in the community. In my essay I acknowledged that Dr. King gave his life to help people. I too would like to dedicate my life to those in need. I would like my legacy to be that I helped extinguish the quick spreading flames of homelessness.
Homelessness is such a hard and painful tragedy. There are mental illnesses and financial problems that can easily cause people to lose their homes and not be able to buy food. It makes me feel such sadness to see homeless people of any age. I want to help in the fight against homelessness.
A big step is to provide housing to homeless families. There are already places in Pasadena that house these families, but we need more. By giving people a home it gives them shelter while they can receive job training and education. The hope is they can soon afford their own homes.
After I won the MLK essay one of my teachers sent me an article on the homelessness fight in Utah. Utah has reduced homelessness by 78% just by giving people homes! They have done this under Utah’s Housing First program. Their goal in a few years would to have 100% of the homeless people in homes. This gives us great hope! To do this here we need a Housing Commission to move forward to provide adequate and affordable housing for all in need and to be an example and even partner with Sierra Madre where I to school and Monrovia where I live.
I believe that, with God’s help, all things are possible and anyone can help change the lives of those in need…even a young girl like me. This is the prize money I won in the essay contest. It is $250. I know it is difficult to find the money to fund the Housing Commission, so I would like to donate my prize money to the Housing Commission. I hope it will help in getting it started.
Thank you very much.