Above: Mollie Lowery inside LAMP Village in 1994. (source: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
At 23 I was struggling not only to find a career to which I would be suited, but also to understand what sort of person I wanted to be.
So many of the expectations that society places on young women still burdened me—being the best, or the smartest, or the kindest. And I wanted so badly to be good at the work of my chosen field—thinking strategically, and nurturing social change, and applying best practice.
What Mollie helped to show me is that what really mattered wasn’t checking all the "do-gooder" boxes. It was listening—really listening—to the people you were trying to serve about what they needed, and then finding a way to get that done “no matter what” (as they say at her most recent labor of love, Housing Works).
In every interaction I had with Mollie she seemed entirely focused on one simple question: In this circumstance, what is the most sensible and straightforward way to protect people’s inherent human dignity? She approached problems with a reasonableness that can sometimes be hard to find in our field; but she just wanted it to work. If you wanted a straight answer, you called Mollie and she’d tell you what was up.
If you wanted a straight answer, you called Mollie and she’d tell you what was up.
Mollie’s impact on the thousands of individuals who have experienced homelessness is extraordinary, and she is a revered figure to the hundreds of staff members of homeless services charities who observed her over the years.
There are people in the history of the Skid Row community who are heroes, and who we honor for their impact on the lives of individuals who are homeless, which is deeply significant—but it’s only part of their legacy. Mollie, alongside people like Alice Callahan or Jill Halverson, has created a culture of mentorship and feminism within the nonprofit sector that changes the lives of young people every year. We are honored to steward that work, just as the leaders of the Downtown Women’s Center nurtured the spark that Mollie lit in me.
Mollie created a culture of mentorship and feminism within the nonprofit sector that changes the lives of young people every year.
Young women need heroes like Mollie in the world right now. Heroes who show us how to turn to one another to find joy and strength and compassion. I thank Mollie from the bottom of my heart for being a hero to me.
Mollie Lowery passed away in her home in Highland Park on July 25, 2016. She was 70 years old. Click here to read the obituary published by the Los Angeles Times.
Brooke Lykins is the Chief Development Officer at the Downtown Women's Center.