SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Eric Lovett believes chronic homelessness in San Diego is best tackled at a young age.
Lovett’s crusade to lift the helpless involves holding them up until they can stand on their own.
In 2012, Lovett took in two young homeless people. They stayed at his house while he sought city and county services to address their needs. He showed them they weren’t alone and built trust that there was someone who cared enough to stick by them. He helped to get them in school or find employment, and eventually get an apartment.
Today, Lovett’s passion is poured into the non-profit Urban Street Angels.
From his downtown complex, Lovett houses 100 young people a year, each with mental illness ranging from depression and anxiety to psychosis and schizophrenia.
"That’s the premise of this organization... we will accept you just the way you are," Lovett said.
Lovett’s devotion to young adults, struggling on the streets comes from personal pain he endured.
"I was rejected early in life, and I know what it felt like when people don't believe in you. They reject you, and you feel all alone. So sometimes it takes several times somebody walking beside you...we still love you...and we're going to do this together."
Urban Street Angels help residents get the medical, psychological, and practical assistance necessary to handle life and live independently. The group also provides the services most other people purchase to nourish their minds, bodies, and spirits.
"Why should only they have access to that? Let’s provide it for those who can't. We provide services like chiropractic, yoga, nutrition, cooking classes, bio feedback. They go to boxing classes, and they go to gyms."
Daniel Kruse is the Outreach Coordinator at Urban Street Angels. He says he would almost call it magic that happens when you provide love and attention to people.
He admitted one young man living in his car. Urban Street Angels gave him support and found him financial aid and medical help.
"He's also schizophrenic. He could barely have a conversation with you, and now tomorrow is his move-in day to his new apartment."
Now he can have a normal conversation, live on his own, so it's a positive transformation: all in three months.
Lovett says everyone at Urban Street Angels is treated as a whole person, despite their circumstances.
"We help them find their own places, get them moved in. They come from suicide attempts, homeless, sex trafficking victims."
Kruse says Lovett is a generous person who treats people as equals.
"He's a friend, he's a mentor...he's not just someone who started an organization and no one hears from him; he's very hands on."
Lovett’s philosophy is true to his values as a person. Treat your neighbor as thy self.
"You're not just a number; you're a name, we care about you."
For all that Eric Lovett has done to make San Diego a better place for all of us to live, we presented him with the 10News Leadership Award.
Congratulations, Eric Lovett. Well deserved.