Last night we went to the Piedmont Theatre to see a free showing of Empress Hotel sponsored by the non-profit EveryOne Home. The theater was packed with people attending in anywhere from jeans and t-shirts to full on business wear, all being sufficiently helped by a flock volunteers. Free popcorn and soda was given to everyone attending by some cheerful guys behind the concession counter.
Once inside the theater we were greeted immediately by an usher who quickly found us two seats together. Before the movie started, they gave out prizes and thanked a number of their funders as well as the venue.
As expected, the documentary was low budget, but it brought to light something that is both profoundly depressing and hopeful simultaneously. I was fully prepared to be either really sad or really angry, instead, I left feeling better about the world because people who run the Empress Hotel exist. Yes, the stories of the residents who live in the low income hotel were sad. You wonder about how their parents could have done the things they did, or the downward spirals that led them to become homeless or addicted to crack or heroin. Yet, some of them were able to find the Empress and take advantage of the services available to them. Health services, activities, free food markets, and a general sense of support and community were being fostered in the heart of the Tenderloin. It was something that was incredibly uplifting. At least there are places like this that exist. At least there are people in the world doing good things like this, helping each other, and making the world a better place.
Thank you EveryOne Home for putting on a great movie that showcases the good work going on in the Bay Area to end homelessness. It's so important that people are aware of the complexities of the problem (from mental illness to just a series of myopic choices leaving people jobless to serious drug addiction) and that there is hope. There is always hope.