Mary "Mandie" Davis and her husband Ari founded the nonprofit Worthy of Love to help unhoused families and children feel connected, valued and loved.
Mary and Ari met while volunteering on Skid Row in Downtown Los Angeles, where they witnessed the devastating effects of the housing crisis. Meeting children and families experiencing homelessness changed both of them. Mary and Ari always hoped to have children, so when their first pregnancy ended in heartbreak, they used their grief to motivate change. As they were reminded of the kids on Skid Row, their loss strengthened their resolve to help families.
They founded Worthy of Love in 2013, and since then they have held a festive, joyous birthday party every month for children experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles and Houston. Get to know Mary Davis with us.
Tell us the 3 things you love to talk about the most?
- 1. My children
- 2. Worthy of Love
- 3. Challah
What inspired you to start WOL?
Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Semester at Sea taught me to treat every person like a brother and sister and every child like your own.
Homelessness is an epidemic that feels so big? In your opinion, why has it become so big?
No affordable housing options.
What is/are misconceptions about homelessness?
It's not always understood that people are the same as you and me they have just fallen on hard times.
Is homelessness solvable? How?
I think there are ways we aren’t trying that could help. My prayer it will be solved and we will be out of business due to no more children experiencing homelessness.
How has WOL changed you personally and professionally?
It’s filled me up with pure joy. Gives me a purpose and never feels like work.
What is currently your biggest challenge?
More families experiencing homelessness and needing the funding to help more.
Can you tell us a story in particular that you reflect on when things get tough?
A little girl we sang happy birthday to started crying during the song. I came up to her after and said, “are you ok?”, she said, “yes, this is my first birthday party ever, I’m happy.”
We love that you constantly tell everyone, me included, “‘you’re worthy of love.” Why is this so important for us to hear?
When I was a child we moved to a new city and it was my birthday. I was sad because I hadn’t any friends and felt lonely on my special day. My teacher knew it was my bday and gifted me a plaque that read, Mandie- Worthy of Love. She said, happy birthday this is what your name means.
What is your vision for WOL?
Next phase, Mama’s Challahs and Worthy of Love Productions