An estimated 4000 homeless people live in the shadows of the offices and great public buildings of downtown Los Angeles, in need of food, shelter, health care, and counseling.
Only a short distance away, Northeast Los Angeles is a thriving Hispanic neighborhood -- where many families find it hard to come to terms with the fact that a loved one may need mental health services.
Downtown Mental Health Center and Northeast Wellness Center work to meet the needs of their communities, above all, to give hope.
When to the group I first came,
My cross was heavy, my heart in pain
Up the staircase step by step
With no idea what to expect
I walked in, I took a seat
And one by one I heard you speak
I found that you had problems too
And as a group you worked them through
And then came time for me to speak
Though tears I shed I felt no shame
Life will never be the same
I’ve seen you grow
I’ve seen you blossom
I’ve seen changes that are truly awesome
And after all that we have been through
I’m a better man for knowing you
God Bless and thank you All
Richard Don Lucas
Richard Don Lucas has been writing poetry since he was 13. He wrote this poem, “The Group,” after attending a dual diagnosis group at the Northeast Wellness Center. He was a volunteer at Northeast for several years and received a Champion Advocate Award from LA County for his work. Today he lives in Baldwin Park where he is raising his four grandchildren.