To celebrate Safe Haven’s second anniversary, 25 staff members and guests held a picnic barbecue and game fest at Clover Park in Santa Monica Wednesday, June 28th.

Participants were treated to ribs, chicken, salmon, salads and various board games.

Safe Haven serves “the most difficult to reach chronic homeless people with mental health problems in Santa Monica and West Los Angeles,” according to an OPCC (formerly Ocean Park Community Center) spokesman. Safe Haven is an OPCC program.

Utilizing a nationally recognized harm reduction approach to homelessness, Safe Haven provides a unique and tolerant social environment including housing, case management, outreach and advocacy, says the spokesman.

Safe Haven’s collaborators include Shelter Partnership, RAND, Lamp Community and the City of Santa Monica’s Chronic Homeless pilot program.

“We are looking to expand our program from ten to 25 beds when our Cloverfield Services Center opens later this year,” said Lou Anne White, project director. White also directs Project Hope, a homeless outreach service that aids eligible homeless men and women to receive social security benefits.

Safe Haven also enlists staff and clients in the production of educational and training videos that promote understanding, change attitudes and enlighten and erase the stigmas associated with mental illness and homelessness.

Its latest production, Better Safe, is soon to be released. It is the story of two men — one homeless and one housed — as they move throughout their daily routine,

Safe Haven is one of OPCC’s 11 programs on eight sites, providing emergency, transitional and permanent housing; mental and medical health programs; food, counseling, peer support and in-depth preparation for independent living for over 10,000 homeless and low-income men, women and children each year. Information, (310) 458-1292 or www.opcc.net

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