Myrtle Gonzalez

The Inspiring Life of Myrtle Gonzalez

Myrtle Gonzalez is an American philanthropist and humanitarian known for helping homeless veterans. This article discusses her inspiring journey and the positive impact she has made.

Early Life

Myrtle was born in 1954 in Los Angeles, California. She came from a humble upbringing and loved helping others from a young age. Myrtle Gonzalez graduated high school in 1972 and worked multiple jobs to support her family. Despite facing hardships, she remained optimistic and compassionate.

Starting The My Friend’s Place Organization

In 1987, Myrtle noticed many veterans struggling with homelessness on the streets of LA. This moved her deeply, and she wanted to make a difference. With help from friends, Myrtle Gonzalez founded ‘My Friend’s Place’ – a non-profit providing food, shelter, and counseling services to homeless veterans. The initial years were tough as Myrtle Gonzalez worked solo, running the kitchen and shelter out of a small building. However, her kindness and commitment helped her gain community support. Within five years, they expanded to a larger facility capable of serving 100 people daily.

Growing Impact and Recognition

Under Myrtle’s leadership, My Friend’s Place gradually developed multiple sites across LA County, offering a comprehensive program for veterans. This included job training, housing assistance, healthcare, legal aid, and more. Her dedication to serving those in need started gaining national attention. Myrtle Gonzalez received pro bono support from businesses and numerous community awards. 2013, she was honored with the Jefferson Award – the Nobel Prize for public service.

Challenges and Breakthroughs

Running a large non-profit is not without difficulties. Myrtle faced funding issues, staffing problems, and criticism over the decades. But she remained resilient, learning from her mistakes. One big breakthrough came in 2009 when Myrtle Gonzalez partnered with the VA and HUD and secured $30 million in funding to construct a 124-unit apartment complex providing permanent housing for veterans. This was a game-changer.

Recognizing the Need for Family Support

Through interacting with many veteran families over the years, Myrtle Gonzalez realized the importance of family support for recovery. In 2015, she expanded the My Friend’s Place model to include housing, counseling, and life-skills programs specially tailored for veterans with children or elderly parents. The new ‘Veterans Family Program’ became hugely popular and helped rehabilitate many multi-generational veteran households. Today, it remains a crucial part of the organization’s holistic approach.

Latest Endeavors

At age 68, Myrtle still actively leads My Friend’s Place while overseeing major expansion plans. In 2021, ground was broken for a new 125,000 sq ft campus in downtown LA capable of serving 500 people daily. Myrtle also advocates nationally for veteran issues. She continues empowering others through motivational speaking, mentoring social work students, Myrtle Gonzalez and advising other veteran non-profits sprouting across the country.

Myrtle’s Inspiring Principles

Some fundamental principles that have guided Myrtle Gonzalez’s inspiring work over three decades include:
  • Have compassion for those in need and take action to help, however small.
  • Work hard and be resilient through all challenges with a positive mindset.
  • Constantly improve and innovate based on learning from past experiences.
  • Build strong community networks for more significant impact and sustainability.
  • Recognize that a holistic approach addressing root causes works best for real change.
  • Lead with kindness and humility and work with colleagues and clients as a team.
  • Advocate for the cause and motivate others to support the vision.
Through her dedication, leadership, and compassion, Myrtle Gonzalez has truly transformed thousands of lives and become a role model for many. She shows how one person’s kindness can make a huge difference in society.

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