Santa Monica was well represented on television over Super Bowl weekend.
Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who has been the talk of America since the inauguration of President Joe Biden last month, read an original poem Sunday during the pregame festivities in Tampa, Florida. The taped message of Gorman’s reading was one of three times the world laid eyes on Santa Monica on-screen.
City Hall appeared very briefly in a video prior to the Super Bowl, and a “Pup Close” segment during the Puppy Bowl focused on veterinarian Kwane Stewart, who is popularly known as The Street Vet, and The People Concern, a local homeless service provider.
“We got connected to Dr. Kwan by providing free veterinary care for residents in our programs as well as some of our outreach clients for several years,” The People Concern CEO John Maceri said Tuesday. “We started off at one of our interim housing sites in Santa Monica and then expanded to help and assist residents in our other facilities before we started doing some pop-up clinics to provide veterinary care.”
It’s been a treasure working alongside Steward over the years, Maceri said, so it was a no-brainer when The People Concern was asked to accompany him on television to speak on the importance of pets in the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness.
“They were taping a segment at one of our housing sites on Michigan and Cloverfield in Santa Monica so they invited us to do a segment where they interviewed me and a couple of clients,” Maceri said. “It was fun to be a part of the Puppy Bowl, especially this year, because you know it will make people smile; you can’t help but feel happy when you see those cute little puppies running around, but I think it felt just as good to highlight the challenges that people experiencing homelessness with pets face every single day — because they’re very real.”
Everybody who is fortunate to have an animal in their lives knows how therapeutic a pet’s unconditional love can be, Maceri added. “And I completely appreciate people who are living on the streets who won’t give up their animals because that’s often the only thing in their life that gives them unconditional love, so anything that we can do to help them stay together is really important. That’s why, as I said earlier, we’re really grateful to Dr. Kwan for his ongoing commitment to this work. We really feel like it was a privilege to be part of the Puppy Bowl and really bring light to the importance of why we should care for these animals.”
Maceri invited residents who wish to get involved in the efforts to care for homeless individuals and their pets can visit www.thepeopleconcern.org.
“There are plenty of volunteer opportunities listed there under our program ‘Canine Connections,’” he said. “And if you’re a person experiencing homelessness that needs some help, then you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and then we’ll direct that to the appropriate staff member to follow up.”