Last week in LA City Council, I presented the LA Local Hero Award to Wendell Blassingame -- someone who continually goes above and beyond to help those in need.
Marine Corps Veteran, Wendell Blassingame, graduated from San Jose State, held a well-paying job as a successful electrician, and raised a family.
Today, he can be found at sitting under an oversized umbrella in San Julian Park in the heart of Skid Row in Downtown helping dozens of people every day.
He knows everything from schedules of shuttles going to shelters, to references for mental health and addiction care, to spots for a shower or a cheap bite to eat. He even knows every affordable housing resource in the City.
He’s not with an agency or organization. He’s not getting paid except by the smiles of those he helps and knowing that he’s touched someone’s life. He simply does this because it’s the right thing to do. On his own, he has placed nearly 200 people into housing in the last year alone. He's been doing this for over 17 years.
The homelessness community and the issues they constantly face hit close to home for Wendell.
After the death of his wife, Lois, Wendell fell into a fog of fear, then doubt, and apathy and he became an alcoholic. Months later, two of his fingers were severed when he fell off a building while working as an electrician. The combination of both incidents caused his life to spiral out of control and into addiction. He began living on the streets.
After 2 years he had a wake-up call that changed his life. He sobered up on his own and chose to help those in need. Wendell has since been dubbed the Saint of Skid Row. He’s a guiding force and an inspiration to us all.
Outside of helping those in need, Wendell sits on the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council. He also hosts job fairs and movie screenings at the James Wood Community Center.
He is truly a local hero and an angel in our City.