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May 16, 2011
Volunteer Profile: Camille Levee, Glendale
Camille Levee is no stranger to homeless advocacy. In 1981 she started the first scout troop in Phoenix, Arizona for girls living in homeless shelters. Currently she runs a non-profit in Glendale that pairs un- and underinsured children -- some of whom live in cars or on the street -- with physicians who can provide services the kids need.
(At right, Camille, front, Levee leads volunteers down a Glendale street in high heels!)
She chose to attend the Glendale Registry Week event because she feels that “plenty of folks we meet are just like you and me: a paycheck or two away from becoming homeless, trying to make a living in a town where shelter is just too expensive.”
Her years of experience came in handy as she and a group of volunteers canvassed the streets of Glendale to find the most at-risk members of Glendale’s homeless community.
“I’ve lived in Chicago, Arizona, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Michigan,” she says, “and it’s almost a general rule that people think ‘we don’t have that problem in my community.’ For some people, canvassing is a very eye opening experience. ‘No, that’s not a covered up barbeque grill… that’s a person.’ Some team members were very surprised at where the homeless camps were.”
Levee’s impressions of Glendale Registry Week were extremely positive.
“The survey questions were excellent, and they helped us pinpoint what and how much these folks need,” she explains. “The event also helped train people who didn’t have much experience with the homeless. When we go into homeless camps we’re entering peoples’ homes. We need to be invited in, just as we’d invite people into ours. Sensitivity is important.”
Along with this volunteer profile, Camille also wins the award for the best-dressed volunteer in Campaign history! Despite showing up in a business suit and high heels, she wasn’t afraid to climb under chain-link fences and connect with Glendale’s homeless population.
“20 years as a CEO of a non-profit, you never know when the press is going to show up on your doorstep,” she warns. “You’ve got to be ready for anything!”
Camille says the Glendale registry event was a powerful and affirming experience:
“We change one life at a time, and we never know which life we’re going to be changing. Years later, someone might approach you and say: ‘you said one thing to me and it changed me, and here’s what I’m doing today.’ You never know. So help everyone with respect and kindness, and treat them the way you want to be treated. Wouldn’t the whole world be a better place if we did that?”