Arts & Entertainment

Classic Television and Movie Moms Voice Support for the Homeless

Mother’s Day may have passed, but moms continue to inspire and encourage— even fictitious ones. Some of America’s favorite classic television and movie moms are raising awareness of the country’s homeless youth problem. Although their focus is one organization, Doors of Change in the San Diego area (with its summer benefit “Concert of Hope” this year on July 27 at the Epstein Family Amphitheater, UCSD, and featuring KC and the Sunshine Band, (see ) their message should resonate in cities across America where homelessness continues to be a significant social problem.

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Doors of Change outreach.

Doors of Change has helped thousands of homeless youths find safe housing and a sense of purpose with a unique arts-based approach. The organization’s trained professionals and volunteers search for at-risk youth, first offering them essentials such as water, socks, and sleeping bags. Once they gain trust, the organization provides music and art lessons as a non-threatening first step to turning their lives around.

The next step is connecting them with housing, employment, medical care, and addiction treatment services.

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Iconic TV and movie moms Jane Kaczmarek, June Lockhart, and Dee Wallace.

Jane Kaczmarek, the mother in the 2000s sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle,” acknowledges this unique approach.

“The stress of being a teenager can be too overwhelming, too confusing, and too many find themselves on our streets trying to survive,” said Kaczmarek. “Doors of Change has discovered a unique way to connect with them through music and art programs that have saved lives and taken our young from hopeless to hopeful. They build self-esteem and respect for themselves and others.

June Lockhart, the beloved TV mom from the 60s shows “Lassie” and “Lost in Space,” applauds the use of arts to connect with homeless youth. “At an early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of arts to inspire and enhance our lives,” she said, adding that the organization has been “successful at reaching the thousands of our young who have become lost.”

Support also comes from Dee Wallace, the movie mom from 1982’s ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, who applauds the group for “reinforcing positive attitudes and images towards oneself”—she says that “is exactly what our youth needs to face and replace the uncertainty and fear they may have of the future.”

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Iconic TV moms Michael Learned, Karen Grassle, and Ilene Graff.

Michael Learned won three Primetime Lead Actress Emmys for her role as Olivia Walton in the 1970s historical drama The Waltons. She notes, “Every child, every teen, is our responsibility. We must keep them safe and the earth solid beneath their feet until they have found their place in this world.”

Until that place is discovered, the dangers of youth homelessness can often lead to additional social problems with which Karen Grassle is all too familiar.

“As one who has suffered from the disease of alcoholism, I know the loneliness and despair it can bring,” explains Grassle, who played the “Little House on the Prairie” mother. “As an artist, I know the healing that comes from self-expression and self-examination. For me, hope came as soon as I surrendered my addiction. Art is a great help and healer.”

“Mr. Belvedere,” mom Ilene Graff also offers encouragement. “You’re a runaway because home had become unbearable or you’ve been thrown out of the house,” says Graff, who played the mom in the popular 80s ABC sitcom. “If you’re lucky, Doors of Change will find you and help you get off the street and into hope, leading to safety, education, housing, music, art, friendship, (and) security.”

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Justine and her original jewelry.

Reaching homeless youth through music and art is a proven successful model; somebody, anywhere, can use a similar program to address the same problem nationwide.

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If you are planning to be in the San Diego area in July and are interested in attending the Concert of Hope featuring KC and the Sunshine Band, please see the information below:

Doors of Change “Concert of Hope”

Where: Epstein Family Amphitheater, UC San Diego 9500 Gilman Dr. MC 209, La Jolla, CA
When: July 27 | Gates open: 6:30 PM | Concert: 7:30 PM
Tickets: Click Here
Website: Click Here


Nick Thomas

Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, and has written features, columns, and interviews for numerous newspapers and magazines. See

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