Updated: Feb 21
During the month of February, Help Me Help You is celebrating Black History Month, through our social media, to acknowledge some of the endless and outstanding achievements of our African American community. As part of this celebration, Help Me Help you would like to share the story behind its founder and inception.
Nineteen years ago, one man’s desire to feed and transform the lives of homeless in Long Beach, CA led to the establishment of nonprofit, Help Me Help You (HMHY). Jerome Washington, HMHY Founder, is a retired UAW member and Boeing Aircraft airplane mechanic who is committed to fighting hunger, preventing and reducing homelessness as well as improving the overall well-being of our community. Jerome has always maintained a passion for the city of Long Beach and its residents. Having led a successful career and transitioning to retirement, Jerome wanted to give back to the community to ensure lasting improvement. “I have always loved Long Beach for its diversity in environmental beauty, lifestyle choices and communities. Over the years it broke my heart to see the growing economic disparity, homelessness and poverty that eats away at the well-being of individuals, families and the community. I had to find a way to work with the community to help it heal and protect it for decades to come. Help Me Help You was the logical solution,” said Jerome, HMHY Founder.
Located in Long Beach, CA, HMHY was established in 2002 with a mission to feed, motivate and transition homeless individuals from lives of poverty to self-sufficiency. Initially, the nonprofit offered weekly food pantry services and financial literacy classes. As a result of its successful hands-on approach, dedication to make a difference, and increasing community needs, HMHY has grown over the years to forge integral community partnerships and expand its services to provide targeted solutions with a nationwide reach. Fast forward to 2021, HMHY you now serves more than 30,000 residents annually to include homeless, seniors, persons with disabilities, single mothers, veterans, youths and those in need. HMHY programs provide access to essential resources like nutritious food, public benefits, economic security and overall well-being.
The impact of the on-going COVID-19 crisis has escalated the need for and expansion of HMHY services. Recently, HMHY commenced a Food Pantry Delivery program to cater to those most impacted by COVID-19. HMHY also joined the Unite Us network, a national leading care coordination and outcome tracking platform connecting healthcare and social service providers. This alliance assists HMHY to provide clients with a continuum of care with other providers; a wholistic healthcare approach; and a national reach through a referral program.
HMHY recently expanded services include:
1. Food Pantry - more than 2,000 residents each week access nutritious groceries via seven Long Beach locations. Food pantries have transitioned to a drive-thru or drop off service.
2. Long Beach Food Pantry Delivery – provides 500 home deliveries per week to those most impacted by COVID-19 and who are unable to access pantry locations to include seniors and persons with disabilities. HMHY also caters for special dietary needs and preferences.
3. Benefits Enrollment Services – transitioned to telephone enrollment assistance for CalFresh, MediCal, GR, and Social Security benefits. HMHY Benefits Advocates maintain a record 80% success rate of social security claims awarded vs. the average 40% success rate of those who file independently.
4. Wellness Education & Resources – provides information on credit recovery, healthy wellness practices and links to essential community resources.
With the support of its sponsors, donors and volunteers, HMHY is grateful to continue to service the community and the growing number of individuals in need. For 17 years, Zina Washington has worked tirelessly with staff who embody the passion of HMHYs Founder to go above and beyond to service the underserved and improve the community. “Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with outstanding volunteers, team members, business partners and sponsors. Together we have expanded and launched new programs adding value to the in-need community of Los Angeles. Together we can continue to facilitate change for the better,” said Zina, HMHY Executive Director.
In recent years, Jerome received the Jefferson Award, prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. Today, HMHY celebrates the achievements and greatness of one man committed to improving the lives of many.