As the incoming President of the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless, I look forward to the opportunities and challenges ahead of us with optimism and a little trepidation.
In 2016, we saw a sharp increase in the awareness of the community regarding persons experiencing homelessness in our city. Some of our community members chose to vent their frustration on social media, while others attended community meetings and asked what they could do to help people experiencing homelessness and living on the streets. As we move forward into 2017, my goal as President is to work with the board to examine and re-define our mission statement, craft a strategic plan that will lay the foundation for our work ahead and transform our general meetings into a working space instead of being report driven. I want to increase the coalition?s voice and influence in the community so that we can support and advocate for the organizations that serve the homeless in Long Beach.
Jaylene Eatherly Westfall has been a member of the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless for 6 years and has served as the Board Secretary for the last 4. She has over 17 years of experience advocating and working with veterans, individuals and families experiencing homelessness both in shelter and supportive housing.
She currently works for Century Villages at Cabrillo as the Residential Services Supervisor overseeing the supportive services in the Cabrillo Gateway apartment building and working with the CVC team to provide resident engagement activities and programming that encourages participation and increases feelings of community and empowers residents to take ownership of their community and neighborhood.
Theresa Santy is a CPA turned stay-at-home mom, who always found a way to volunteer in the community. In 2015, she served on the board and as a regular volunteer for Beacon for Him Ministries.
In 2016, she graduated from MHALA’s Jump Start mental health training program. Through these experiences, Theresa has learned there is no magic bullet for ending homelessness. However, she believes that people—through love, compassion, and faith—can make magic happen. She believes meaningful solutions are out there, waiting to be discovered, and that by working together, we can, and will, find them.
Arlene Mercer has been the Executive Director of Urban Community Outreach for almost 4 years. In 2016 a total of 2,798 unduplicated individuals, families, veterans and disabled people received hot meals, services, and resources that lead to an improved life, rising above poverty and homelessness.
She is also Founder/Executive Director Emeritus of Food Finders, a 28 year old multi-regional food rescue operation serving Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The organization has provided a gift to the community of 129 million pounds of food to date valued at $204 million dollars.
She has received many local, state and national awards for her work with the less fortunate.
Arlene has an accounting background and has worked in various accounting related management positions, including Healthcare Administrator, Controller, Account Executive, Brokerage Account Coordinator and Management Account Coordinator.
She is a Presbyterian Elder and has served as Vice Chair of the Los Ranchos Presbytery Self Development of People Committee. She is Past President and now Treasurer of the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless, a long-time member of Long Beach Non-Profit Partnership, a founding partner of Partnership 4 Solutions (a family resource center) and founder of Adopt a Grandparent.
She and her husband of 53 years have two grown children and three grandchildren.
Maryann Koussa joined the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless in October 2016. As Project Director on a federally-funded homeless adolescent project, she initially started attending meetings because she thought it was important to be more connected to the local resources available to our vulnerable community members.
Born and raised in Long Beach, Maryann immediately felt a stronger connection to the organization and the importance of LBACH and its goals, far beyond its relation to her work. She's proud to serve on the Board and look forward to being part of the growth of LBACH in the coming years.
Andy Kerr has been a dedicated and passionate supporter of nonprofit and service providing organizations throughout his career, serving in the roles of board member, officer, commissioner, task force member, mentor, and other roles as called upon by the organizations he serves and his community. In 2002, Andy joined with colleagues and friends to start Housing Works, a visionary nonprofit agency providing supportive housing services to chronically homeless individuals and families throughout the County.
Andy is currently a commissioner serving the City of Long Beach. He was appointed to the Homeless Services Advisory Committee in 2014 by Councilmember Al Austin, helping to oversee the City’s Homeless Services Division in the Department of Health. He currently serves as vice-chair of that commission.
Andy is married to his partner of 21-years, Megan Kerr. Megan is currently the District 1 School Board Member and Vice President for the Long Beach Unified School District. Megan and Andy have three amazing young-adult children, Christian, Evan and Emma Jayne.
Hailing from Cerritos, Eric Tsim joined the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless in October 2016 looking for a way to make a local impact on urban homelessness. His background is a little unusual: he holds a master’s degree in environmental engineering, spent a few years after graduation on various projects tackling homelessness, and is now retooling for a career in web development.
He welcomes feedback and recommendations for the Coalition’s website, whether for its aesthetics, functionality, or anything else in between.
Steering Committee Member
Heather Rodgers is the founder of Feeding Long Beach which is a sack lunch program for homeless shelters and organizations. The organization partners with CityHeART to provide low cost meals during art therapy sessions. Heather is also a student at Long Beach City College and plans to transfer to Cal State University Long Beach where she will earn her teaching degree and credentials.