One of Evoke Therapy Program’s founding principles is a commitment to being a conscientious company, making the health and well-being of our programs, employees, and communities a top priority. This commitment includes contributing to our local and larger communities via service projects, and encouraging our employees and clients to feel the value of giving back to others.
On Saturday, January 28, 2017, nine employees from Evoke, six family members, and six super colleagues participated in an event in Los Angeles, California, called the Skid Row Carnival of Love. The event, in its third year, serves to help the homeless with food, clothing, and various medical services. It is the creation of Justin Baldoni, actor and good friend of Evoke. Blood pressure tests, dental screenings, resume writing help, haircuts, feet washing, pet care, a children’s play area and toy distribution were all available.
“We aren’t trying to solve the homeless epidemic,” Baldoni has said, “but we can at least shine a little light and brighten their lives.”
Evoke donated 1,000 blankets to the homeless, and provided stations for them to talk and be heard, accepted and loved. The sessions were more about human connection than clinical therapy. All in all, over 2,000 volunteers served thousands of homeless people that day, transforming one of the poorest places in America for four hours into a colorless, classless beacon of light.
Sabrina Hadeed, Evoke therapist and Assistant Clinical Director, attended the event and eloquently described the day and all of its emotions like this: “It was surreal to slow down and take the time to connect with individuals of all different ages and life stories - all living on the streets, or ‘surviving the streets’ as one of the guys I met put it. I was humbled, grateful, and sad. I was stunned by my own privilege, as I have never known what it is like to be homeless and all the struggles that come with it. It was particularly striking to me to be there amidst the backdrop of all the focus in the news on our current politics and attention on international terror threats. It felt significant to focus instead on individuals who are struggling right here at home, on Skid Row. To offer love and connection as a treatment for human suffering felt profound and simple at the same time. I saw mental illness, loneliness, and physical disability - but I also saw hope, laughter, and love. I felt proud to offer my listening skills and my genuine positive regard (love) and compassion as I heard the many stories from the many voices of those living on the streets. Ending the event with dancing in the street to the song ‘Happy’ with volunteers and the Skid Row community of homeless individuals was a kind of carefree joy I will not soon forget. Like for a moment there were no worries of being hungry or unsafe or cold. There was just playful dancing and human connection.”
“The Carnival of Love was simply about showing that we care not just through our words but through our actions,” said Evoke Founder and Clinical Director Brad Reedy, who also brought his family. “And, at the end of the day, we were all just as affected as those we were helping. What the world needs is more love.”
Michael Griffin, another Evoke therapist who attended the event to lend help, said: “The Carnival of Love was such a powerful experience for me. It hit the very core of therapeutic principles as I understand them. To simply see another person – not based on wealth, or accomplishment, race, or education – to simply see, hold and connect with someone on a very human level was so incredibly moving. I heard tales of heroism, strength, resilience, courage and healing. I showed up to help others and I was helped. It was an experience I will not ever forget.”
Truly, none of those involved will soon forget the experience that day, and it’s safe to say that we will continue to support our communities with similar efforts.