On any given night this year, it’s estimated that more than half a million people in the country are sleeping on the street or in homeless shelters. That figure includes some 115,000 people in California and more than 40,000 in Los Angeles County, including about 7,500 in families.
In the eyes of the people who work for Upward Bound House, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit, that’s 7,500 too many.
“They seem to be some of the most hidden of the homeless,” said James Jones, the organization’s director of development and communications. “Our clients are the working poor. Most of us go through life and we have situations to deal with, but we have a friend or family member who can help us out. They’ve been doing the right thing, but maybe there was a bad situation or tragedy. Their desire to get back on their feet is extraordinarily strong.”
Working within a roughly $3-million budget, Upward Bound House provides the families with temporary shelter while helping them locate permanent housing. But the nonprofit relies heavily on philanthropy and community partnerships, which is why it is grateful to have the new support of a locally based fitness company.
Beachbody this month is donating $5 to Upward Bound House for each purchase of its Master’s Hammer and Chisel strength training program, committing to at least $500,000, which officials said will help the nonprofit move 100 families into permanent housing while offering case management, employment assistance and other services.
Announced to coincide with Giving Tuesday, an annual philanthropy campaign, the partnership came about with the help of a former Upward Bound House board member and Beachbody’s chief legal officer.
In the past, the fitness company has donated money to organizations that address human trafficking and access to clean water. This time, it wanted to focus on an issue that affects Southern California.
“We felt we haven’t been as active locally as we otherwise could be,” co-founder and chief executive Carl Daikeler said. “We felt that, particularly with the holidays, we really wanted to do something that would solve an acute problem and have an immediate impact during this particularly sensitive season. That’s where homelessness and struggling families became the primary theme that we wanted to investigate.”
The issue seemed particularly appropriate considering Sagi Kalev, one of the developers behind Beachbody’s new exercise program, used to be homeless.
“We didn’t just want to pour money into a charity and have them say, ‘Thank you,’” Daikeler said. “We wanted to know that every time we wrote a check, it would have a specific outcome.”
Jones said Upward Bound House is expanding its outreach efforts and that the financial support of area businesses is powerful.
“This was the perfect opportunity for them and for us to participate in something that will benefit homeless families with children,” Jones said. “Los Angeles is not only one of the largest homeless communities, but it’s one of the fastest-growing. This allows us to do even more.”
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.