Commentary: Group does good work with motel families

I read with sadness the recent article about the Illumination Foundation leaving Costa Mesa [“Homeless-services group leaves city,” Jan. 2].

This news directly affects a number of the families I have been working with for the past couple years.

Through the Illumination Foundation, I have been running a Sunday school class for children who live at the Costa Mesa Motor Inn. These children generally range in age from 4 to 14.

I have come to know a number of the families and many of the young children at the motel. I am well aware of the problems at the Motor Inn and know that they existed before the Illumination Foundation was there and will continue after it is gone.

Some of us have tried to focus our efforts on the children living in the motel; they don’t have a choice in the matter. It is my belief that if we can show these children a little love, kindness and compassion, then they may have a little more hope and be able to deal with their living situation a little bit better

I have owned a home and business in Costa Mesa for 26 years, and I have been active with the Illumination Foundation for the past few years. Unfortunately, the Illumination Foundation happens to be operating in one of the most visible and dysfunctional locations in Costa Mesa.

As Paul Leon, president and chief executive of the Irvine-based foundation, mentioned in the article, the organization is really collateral damage from the city’s desire to clean up or shut down the motel.

I also realize that the leadership in Costa Mesa is trying to take a responsible role in improving the quality of life in our city and implementing a strategy to reduce homelessness. As hard as it may be for some to see, the work that the Illumination Foundation has done in Costa Mesa, as well as in Stanton and Anaheim, is actually achieving the goal of reducing homelessness.

I have met and worked with families who were on the street but with the help of the Illumination Foundation were able to establish an address, get their feet back on the ground, obtain work and move into their own apartments.

It is unfortunate that the Illumination Foundation has been dragged into the bigger issue of cleaning up of the Motor Inn. I truly feel that a more constructive position by our city leaders would be to figure out how they could work together with the Illumination Foundation to reduce homelessness in Costa Mesa.

I would recommend that any city official who questions what the Illumination Foundation is doing visit its Stanton office. Walk through the children’s resource center, built on an abandoned lot in Stanton, or check out some of the transitional living apartments that have been established to help the homeless families become self-sufficient.

Again, I want to stress that the Illumination Foundation is decreasing, not increasing, the homeless population in Costa Mesa. It gives a helping hand and hope, not a handout.

RICK CAMPO is president of West-Tech Materials in Costa Mesa.