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Unhoused in Bethesda

I'd like to tell you a quick story, if you have a minute.

Back in 2009 I lived in LA. I was a filmmaker who'd had some success. I'd been on the production team of Deadliest Catch, I'd directed a small independent feature film called FEED, I'd been brought in by Warner Brothers to ghostwrite for the series, Gossip Girl, and after all that I was in pre-production on a film I'd written about the Women's Professional Soccer league that had a $10 million budget and would begin filming in 2010. I was hustling every day as a freelancer to get these jobs done and feeling like my career was about to move in the right direction, when the Great Recession and the writer's strike ground Hollywood to a stop.

A perfect storm happened. My investors pulled out of the movie, all of Hollywood shut down, and after months of trying to get any job to no avail, many of my crew were without jobs and some folks were losing their homes, including me. I didn't have a mortgage. I had a studio apartment in Silverlake that I could no longer afford. I tried to negotiate with my landlord, but that wasn't working. I hadn't planned for a total shutdown and that was on me, but I wasn't alone in being completely caught off guard. All around me, I witnessed the homeless population grow daily on Sunset Boulevard. People were living in their cars, using every penny they had left to leave the city and go home, selling all of their belongings for rent and food. I sold off everything I owned too, but it wasn't enough.

I found myself one September morning, with everything I owned including my beloved cat, Talulah, packed like sardines into my little Dodge Neon. I had been sleeping in my car for three nights at this point, parked in front of a cafe with free wifi, so I could continue the last job I had: to ghostwrite a screenplay for the book, To Write Love on Her Arms, which I'd be paid $4000 for. $4000 would be enough to get me home to New England, where I belonged. It took me another three days to write in my car before I submitted to the production company and another two days after that before I was paid and could leave Los Angeles finally.

I'll never forget the week I was unhoused. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a gym membership where I could shower every day. I had a car that was warm or cold if I needed it to be. I had just enough money to buy a bit of food at Trader Joe's. What I didn't have was enough good friends or nearby family to help me, so I lived in my car for a week.

On a weekly basis I'm reminded of that week in my car when I pass folks sleeping at the bus stop, when I see mothers and kids sitting beneath the shade of a tree on Democracy Boulevard asking for change from passersby. The fear of the possibility of being homeless is a constant, even though I've had nearly fifteen years of successfully owning my own business and am now helping folks buy and sell their own homes. The irony of it all is not lost on me.

This year, I've decided to help those who are where I was then. I'm collecting food, clothes, and gift cards to donate to Bethesda Cares, a local organization that hopes to prevent, ease, and end homelessness in our community.

I'm awaiting a list of exact needs from the volunteer director of Bethesda Cares, but am requesting that you respond to let me know if you would be interested in contributing to the donation. Please leave a comment or DM me to let me know if you'd like to be involved and I will follow up with the list of items as well as pick up and/or drop off information.

I'm hoping to have all donations in by the second week of December and will also be volunteering my time to serve lunches to the community over the next year, if you'd like to join me.

Please let me know as soon as you can if you'd like to donate, so I can put a distribution list together.

Thanks so much for your consideration!

Take care,


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