One of those who crossed the finish line at this year’s LA Marathon was formerly a member of LA’s homeless community who lived on the streets until just two years ago. Jose Ramirez, 27, who now lives in his own apartment in Los Angeles and works for UPS, says that running combined with a program that helps homeless transition into independent living, gave him a new lease on life and the motivation to become involved in long-distance running. He completed the 26.2 mile run in 3 hours and 33 mins — 15 min under his goal.
To help him prepare for the endeavor, Holliday’s Helping Hands (HHH), the nonprofit that helped Ramirez off the streets and prepared him for independent living, surprised the nascent athlete with a pair of running shoes, athletic clothing and a Fitbit, a wrist-worn device that tracks how much distance has been run, monitors heart rate, tracks sleep patterns, serves as a GPS and several other features.
“To think about where I was not even two years ago to now where I have a roof over my head, a good job and a passion for running is unbelievable and the fact that I finished the LA Marathon blows me away,” says Ramirez. “I feel like I wasted so much of my life in a very dark place filled with drugs, violence, gangs, homelessness and other negatives that I never thought I would survive, but I did and now look at me.”
Founded by Miss Katina Holliday, the Los Angeles-based Holliday’s Helping Hands has helped transition hundreds of formerly homeless individuals as well as young mothers recently released from incarceration. HHH employs some 200 staff who work as a team to help these disenfranchised populations by readying them to become productive and independent citizens. One key to the nonprofit’s success is helping clients develop “roadmaps” for their futures — detailed, comprehensive plans that help them hone their lifestyle skills, plan monthly budgets, job train, prepare for job interviews and become good neighbors and citizens.
One important aspect of the program is HHH’s Shine Ambassador Program, where clients are trained and prepared for jobs in the food service, landscape maintenance, screen printing and customer service fields and build their resumes in preparation for future employment. For the food industry training program, for instance, clients must earn their food handlers license, shadow chefs and work in kitchens in preparation for a restaurant career. There is also a property maintenance program for those who desire to work outdoors in landscaping, lawn maintenance, etc. as well as opportunities in the screen printing and customer service fields. Graduates are awarded certificates of completion that serve as a source of pride as they embrace their lives of independence.
For more information, visit www.hollidayshh.org or call (424) 340-2468.
Hollidays Helping Hands
17420 S Avalon Blvd, Ste. 101