Co-Founders Paul Leon and Paul Cho met at the Merage School of Business at UCI while studying for their Master’s Degrees. Each man’s background is as diverse as they are; Paul Leon is an R.N. who attended Compton College and Paul Cho is a Harvard-educated investment banker. Something about their two worlds and experiences melded over the issue of homelessness and Illumination Foundation was born.
Illumination Foundation was originally created from the shock and frustration Leon and Cho encountered when discovering how many children in affluent Orange County were homeless every night on the streets.
The men initially worked to connect families and individuals with housing, using the beginnings of their grant funding to place homeless families in local motels.
After some (initially) surprising successes and a few failures, the two men realized that the healthcare component had to be added to housing in order to completely transition individuals back on their feet. These services included behavioral health counseling, mental health services, substance use counseling, children and family services and workforce services.
Life on the street is about survival. Nearly all homeless people suffer multiple instances of trauma and struggle with mental and physical health ailments that aren’t treated, and children suffer as much or more as the adults. The cycle of homelessness will not be broken without intervention.
Since 2007, Illumination Foundation has provided housing services to 7,843 clients, served 2,223 children through our Children’s Resource Centers, served 3,905 clients through Recuperative Care, provided 9,092 individuals with resource connections, provided workforce development services to 1,221 clients and provided 16,473 clients with healthcare services.
Today in Orange County there are more than 32,000 children homeless or unstably housed and in excess of 55,000 homeless individuals in Southern California alone. Illumination Foundation has flourished by staying true to their mission whenever at a crossroads, and that won’t change until the homelessness issue does.
Learn more about us at IFHomeless.org
Illumination Foundation Life on the Streets as a Homeless Child
This year’s OC Chef’s Table is about raising funds specifically for homeless children, especially for homeless kids who are recovering from hospital stays, surgery and ER visits after being discharged.