Lifting up the voices of DWC participants
DWC Advocates Program
We believe the most effective way to advocate for systems change is to ensure the lived experiences of DWC residents and participants are at the forefront of our work.
With that in mind, we launched the DWC Advocates Program in 2016. The five-month training program provides women with the tools and training to become successful, confident advocates for themselves, for other women experiencing homelessness, and for DWC. DWC Advocates participate in a six-hour foundational course that covers the basics of advocacy and storytelling, before choosing one of three specialization tracks in (1) public speaking and media interviews, (2) lobby meetings, or (3) written advocacy. Each group them meets individually to continue training, which includes active participation in press interviews, public policy meetings, lobby visits with legislators, fundraising events, and press conferences.
Throughout the years, DWC Advocates have had the special opportunity to meet and speak with public figures like California Senator Holly Mitchell, Former U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julián Castro, Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, Los Angeles Congresswoman Karen Bass, and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
DWC Advocates have spoken, interviewed, and worked with:
- Media outlets like The Guardian, The Nation, CBS Local, Spectrum News, and the Los Angeles Daily News.
- Organizations including Visionary Women, Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles, and Hope LA, as well as Live Nation and TOMS.
- Premier institutions like Loyola Marymount University, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the National Center for Medical Development and Research.
- DWC Board Meetings and the DWC Annual Gala.
“I get to stand in front of people and share my story.
By sharing my story with other people and advocating, I have been able to heal from my own trauma, my own pain.”
AMIYOKO, A DWC ADVOCATE
On January 30, 2020, DWC held a press conference on its garden balcony to mark the release of the 2019 Los Angeles City Women’s Needs Assessment. Featuring testimonials from a number of DWC Advocates, the report was the first of its kind to study the needs and conditions of homeless women across the City of Los Angeles. The press conference was attended by eight DWC Advocates as well as several elected officials and long-time DWC allies like Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAHSA Commissioner Wendy Greuel, and County Supervisor Hilda Solis. One DWC Advocate, Vikki Vickers, got to speak to the crowd about her experience with homelessness and the need for integrated support services, saying of her time prior to coming to DWC, “I became paranoid, and I ran away from everyone I’d ever known … For me, homelessness was hopelessness.” Vikki was among the first women to move into DWC’s San Pedro Street residences in late 2012; today, she works as a Coordinator for DWC’s Bridge Housing Program.