August 20, 2019

Homeless on Pico—Natalie Levine: Day 2 update

After we posted the video clip yesterday on Natalie Levine, a lot of people asked me: How can we help? What can we do? I felt a twinge of guilt that I told a very sad story without much hope. So this morning I decided to go back and see if I can find her. My heart sank when I saw that she wasn’t there. Because she had told me she “likes Jews,” I figured she was still in the neighborhood. So I drove around, very slowly, looking at sidewalks. Finally, I saw something from far that looked like it could be a homeless person sleeping. It was on the same side of Pico Boulevard where Natalie and I first met. I parked my car and walked over. It was hard to see her face, but as I got closer I realized it was her. She almost had a heart attack after I said her name.

“It’s David,” I said. “We met yesterday.”

“Oh hi,” she replied.

“A lot of people want to help you, Natalie. I posted that film we did yesterday and people want to help.”

She didn’t say much. She just gave me an easy smile and said, “Oh OK.”

But she had a very emotional reaction—a mix of excitement and tears– when I told her that her old Hebrew day school in Connecticut had seen the story and reached out to me. It was as if her childhood had come rushing back into her consciousness, cutting through the pain of the present.

I realized at that point that helping a homeless person takes tactical skill. So, first, I made her promise that she would not leave the spot for a few hours. I gave her water, 20 bucks and my cell number, and told her, “I’ll see you in a bit.”

The first thing was to find a safe place for the night. Actually, no, the very first thing was to clean her up. My amazing friend, Aliza Wiseman, offered to take her to her home until I found a place. She also went to Ross to buy some clean clothes. So, while Natalie was taking a hot shower, getting into new clothes and eating an omelette, I called around looking for motels that would take her. I made several calls, but had no luck until my friend Elaine Courtney, who saw the story on Facebook, suggested a place.

I called. A woman named Lucy answered. She said they had one room left, but it would be more expensive because it had a separate bathroom.

I booked the room. $70 a night, cash only.

As you can see in the photo above, Natalie is now in her room.

Meanwhile, my daughter Mia is setting up a crowdfunding page to give people a chance to help.

Next update on Monday.

Shabbat shalom.