Counting the homeless a touching, rewarding experience

Dear Downey Family, I hope this message finds you all well. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the great things happening in our City. I feel it is my responsibility as your Mayor to keep you informed about what is going on in our community and I enjoy relaying this information to you.

Let me first start off by mentioning the homeless count that was conducted here in Downey on January 29-31. As you might have read about, Downey Counts is a community-driven initiative aimed at identifying the most vulnerable individuals experiencing street homelessness with the hopes of being able to find homes for them. During these three nights, a group of close to 60 volunteers came together to help reach out to all of the homeless people living on the streets of Downey. Councilmember Alex Saab and myself were fortunate to be part of this great effort and we were amazed to see the number of volunteers that came out. It was truly a rewarding experience and I was touched by so many people I met who are currently experiencing homelessness. Folks, these are our neighbors. They are people just like you and me who have feelings, who experience hunger, who feel pain, who for unfortunate circumstances have lost almost everything.

Our City will continue supporting Downey Counts and I would like to personally thank the Moravian Church of Downey, Kingdom Causes Bellflower and Our Place Housing Solutions for spearheading this effort. While we do not have the answers yet, a journey begins with the first step.

On February 1st we commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the Columbia Shuttle tragedy with a special ceremony at the Columbia Memorial Space Center. It was a privilege to host a special event like this as we honored the crew of STS-107, who tragically lost their lives 10 years ago. A day to remember, a day to commemorate heroes that risked their lives to make ours better. We were honored to have NASA Astronaut Lt. Col. James Kelly as our special guest speaker. A special thank you to Lt. Col. Kelly for joining us on this special day and also to Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard for her support in making this possible.

Next Thursday, February 21st we will be having a groundbreaking event for The View Development that will be located at 8314 2nd Street (former Verizon building site). This six-story, 50-unit multi-family affordable housing development will be a great addition to our Downtown area. We are eager for construction to begin and excited at what this project is going to do for our Downtown. Our downtown plan is working and this is yet another piece of the exciting changes happening.

I am proud to see the success of Stay Gallery Downey. Just last Friday I attended the J. Arthur Morris exhibit and I was glad to see how many art enthusiasts we have in town. It was a way to celebrate Art Morris who made such a difference to Downey, and also celebrate a movement that our City is proud to be a part of. Stay Gallery Downey has brought such an amazing vibe to our City, specifically for our Downtown area. Thank you to Valentin Flores, Director of Stay Gallery Downey, and his team, for their dedication and hard work in instilling a positive art culture movement in our community.

Our Healthy Downey Initiative is going strong and we have so many great community partners that have joined this team effort. I would like to personally thank Kaiser Permanente, Downey YMCA, Coca Cola, Downey Unified School District, TLC, Apple Care Medical, L.A. Department of Public Health, Family Health Care Centers of L.A., Rancho Los Amigos and the U.S. Army for being part of this collaboration. My goal is to promote living a healthy, active lifestyle through education and civic engagement. All of our community partners share this same vision and together we will continue moving toward a Healthy Downey. Stay tuned for many events with educational components that will help promote healthy lifestyles for our youth and families.

Thank you to all of those who have joined me for my Mayor's Walking Wednesdays. I really enjoy getting to know our residents and encourage you all to join me the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. My next Walking Wednesday will be on February 20th beginning at 6 pm and we will be meeting at Downey High School. Check out the full schedule on our City's website. Hope to see you next Wednesday. It is a fun and safe way to get to know each other and exercise at the same time. By the way, my official weigh-in at this week's City Council meeting was 288 pounds. I started on December 1st weighing-in at 324 pounds. Still more work to do.

Lastly, we are currently taking nominations for my Mayor's Diakonia Award. The word Diakonia means "service" in Greek and this award will be presented monthly at City Council meetings to recognize those who perform random acts of kindness and give back to others. I encourage you to nominate those who go out of their way to make a difference in the community. Anyone wishing to nominate someone for the Mayor's Diakonia Award should contact my City Council office at 562-904-7274 or email me at

Fellow Downey neighbors, we have a great City that is here to serve us. There are many exciting things happening and I welcome the opportunity to speak with you at any time. The more we all know about our community the more we realize that Downey is a special place.

Stay tuned, our future is just as bright as our shining past. Feel free to call me on my personal cell number,(562) 706-4114.

All my best, God bless. Dn. Mario A. Guerra Mayor

********** Published: February 14, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 44