Some of you may have known Mollie, who was most recently at Housing Works, but who had also been a founder of Lamp Community.
She died last week. Steve Lopez wrote a tribute to her in the LA Times:
I knew Mollie for many years, meeting her first in 1987 or 1988, when I was working at Homeless Health Care. Even then she was considered an innovator, helping dually diagnosed people who were living on Skid Row. This was at a time when the mental health care providers would not help someone who was using drugs and the substance abuse providers would not help people with mental illness. Mollie saw this need and responded to it, saving the lives of countless people who were abandoned by these rules.
Once, Mollie gave me a walk-through at LAMP and after we walked through the laundry area, we stopped by what looked like a cashier window. It was where the clients would pick up their checks. The staff had asked a question about a particular client and I don’t remember the details, but I do remember asking her why he wasn’t being helped to apply for SSI (which takes a very long time, but what I had assumed would be a goal for all the LAMP clients). She said, “He doesn’t need that, he can work.” She wasn’t mean about it, she was just very matter-of-fact. In the time it would take for him to qualify for SSI, she was certain he could get a job. That was a revelation to me.
We talk about persistence and tenacity in our work. Mollie was at the forefront of this idea that service does not always have an end, in particular with our clients who struggle with mental illness and addiction. One of the last times I saw her was at an LA City Council meeting. She was later than she wanted to be because she had stopped to see a man on the street whom she had helped into housing years ago. She was furious and frustrated that the relationships she had set up and the agencies that were supposed to be his support had failed him. Her never-ending passion for this work was an inspiration to me and many others for decades. She will be greatly missed.
Natalie Profant Komuro