Who We Are

Our History

A study conducted by the Peninsula-Harbor Ecumenical Council in 1988 documented that the biggest unmet need of low income and homeless residents in the Harbor Area of Los Angeles was a shelter for homeless women, most of whom were addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Concerned about this unmet need, a group of dedicated individuals soon began an emergency food pantry and drop-in center. By 1990, the efforts of these concerned individuals resulted in the opening of SHAWL (Support for Harbor Area Women’s Lives), a three-month residential chemical dependency treatment program for homeless women. The home currently being used by SHAWL for the primary program was purchased in 2000 with grants from the Ahmanson Foundation, Parsons Foundation, and the Weingart Foundation.

By 1998, a longer-term transitional housing facility, Haviland House, was opened across the street from SHAWL for women that have graduated from the SHAWL primary program. At Haviland House, six women can remain an additional 18 months to two years while they are in school and employed so that they can continue their case management treatment goals of maintaining sobriety, as well as freedom from homelessness and domestic violence.

An additional transitional home was opened in 2012 called The Cottages. The Cottages can hold up to 5 residents in each cottage where residents can life in a comfortable drug, alcohol and violence free atmosphere. Residents can continue their case management plans to maintain ongoing sobriety and freedom from violence.

To enhance SHAWL’s impact and stability, the Board of Directors made the strategic decision to merge with Volunteers of America Los Angeles (VOALA) in 2007. VOALA is one of Los Angeles’s oldest (founded in 1896) and largest non-profits with over $66 million in current annual operating revenue. Having earned a reputation for the willingness to serve Los Angeles’s “neediest of the needy,” VOALA is committed to bringing lasting solutions, not just temporary support, to those in need. Each year, VOALA serves more than 35,000 residents of the Los Angeles area. For more information about the mission and programs that VOALA provides, please visit the website at www.voala.org.

We are committed to helping those in need. SHAWL’s mission is to provide comprehensive services to homeless women who are affected by drugs and alcohol addiction, physical and emotional abuse. Our residential program provides a safe environment where women can heal and thrive as they move forward towards a serene and productive life.

SHAWL in the News

In 2009, SHAWL was awarded $500,000 for three years under the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, Transitional Housing Assistance Grant Program.  SHAWL was again awarded $300,000 over three years in 2012.  We work closely with the Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women to ensure we are utilizing best practices for our residents.


“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
of 2009 provided the Justice Department’s Office
on Violence Against Women with $225 million,
for grants to expand efforts to combat violence
against women, and just as importantly, to
invest in the lives of those who have been
victimized and remain vulnerable”

-Attorney General Eric Holder

Meet Our Caring Staff

We have caring, knowledgeable and professional staff to assist residents with their various needs.


Laurie Whalen-Martinez, Executive Director

Laurie has been Executive Director at SHAWL since 2009. She is a graduate of Cal State University Long Beach and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies with an English Concentration. Laurie has over 29 years of management experience in business, marketing, advertising and fundraising for non-profit and for-profit organizations. Laurie believes in the strength of women if given the opportunity to excel in a safe atmosphere and is passionate about providing a safe sanctuary for women to recover at SHAWL. Laurie enjoys observing and participating in the transformations she has witnessed in the residents who have graduated from the SHAWL program.

Andrea Kotok, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (90500)

Andrea graduated with honors from California State University Northridge with a Master’s in Counseling/Marriage and Family Therapy in 2013. She became licensed in 2015. She also teaches exam preparedness for fellow therapists to pass their licensing exams. She has a passion for helping women in recovery with the hopes of helping the women to uncover their own strengths and identify and understand previous underlying issues and obstacles. Andrea is grateful to be a member of the SHAWL team at SHAWL where both staff and residents are always learning and growing together.


Marla Lopez, Certified Drug & Alcohol Counselor (CATC II)

Marla is a women saved by God’s Grace who has 12+ years free from alcohol and drugs. Marla graduated from Long Beach City College with an A.A. degree in Human Services and obtained a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Studies. Marla likes working for SHAWL for its genuine compassion for women. “I want to give women hope and be a testimony that we can get better.”

Alysia St. Clair, Certified Drug & Alcohol Counselor I (CADC 1)

Alysia is very active in her recovery with meetings, sponsorship and commitments. She has been substance free since July 9, 2012. In 2010, Alysia graduated from Los Angeles Harbor College with an Associate Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Alysia received a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Cal State University Dominguez Hills in 2016. She is currently attending Cal State Long Beach for a Master’s in Social Work. “Through my struggles with addiction and life, I have a strong passion in helping others. I feel I have a lot of hope to give to the hopeless because I was once there. Through my obstacles, I have learned how to persevere and be a productive member of society. I feel God has me right where I am supposed to be.”


April Del Rio, Program Assistant / Registered Recovery Worker (R1192450215)

April graduated from the SHAWL program in 2013. April has overcome many personal obstacles triumphing over her addictions and embracing her role as a mother of four beautiful and charismatic children. She has made a personal commitment to helping women, like herself, realize lifelong recovery. “The resources I received at SHAWL helped me to learn to triumph over my struggles with my hope, health and overall well-being. I hope I can give back as much as I have received.”


Christina Ramirez, Program Assistant / Registered Recovery Worker (R1238610916)

Christina joined the SHAWL team soon after her own personal recovery journey began in 2014. Christina began working as an as-needed monitor and quickly progressed. Christina’s main responsibilities at SHAWL include community outreach, event relations, intake, and educating and informing clients about resources for treating addiction and other related health issues. Her professional manner, personal experience and love for the field of recover make her an invaluable asset to both our clients and staff.

Ashanti Johnson, Monitor / Registered Recovery Worker (R1201660515)

“I have certainly been through some trials and tribulations of my own. I am a firm believer in that you can’t give up even when the chips are down repeatedly. I was raised in South Central Los Angeles and I’ve been there my whole life. But, with all my mishaps and trials – I still made it through. I am a single mother of one, a hard worker and I am also going back to school. The one thing I learned is that you must keep pushing, you have to keep fighting and if you don’t have something to fight for – fight for yourself no matter what life brings your way. I believe in second chances and I believe you can always turn it around.”

Heather Graham, Monitor / Registered Recovery Worker (R1263670917)

“After struggling for many years with drugs and alcohol and now being recovered for nearly 4 years, I feel so honored to work for SHAWL and be able to give back to the women who want to change their lives.
Through being empathetic and compassionate I strive to be a good example of what recovery can be. I love my job and I am truly blessed.”

April James, Monitor / Registered Recovery Worker (R1331471218)

April was born and raised in San Pedro in the circle of recovery. “Part of my journey in sobriety has placed me here at SHAWL. What an honor to be blessed with beautiful women and to be allowed to embrace the gift of a new way of living.”

Ruby Quarterman, Monitor / Registered Recovery Worker (R1330201118)

Ruby was born in Harbor City and has been working for SHAWL as a Monitor for 2 years. “My journey through LIFE has brought me to Recovery. I love my job as it has been a life changing event in my Life. Now I know my purpose is to help others.”

Therapy Cats (Self-Certified)





Meet Our Dedicated Board of Directors

Emily Hamilton, Senior Vice President, Human Resources Director, Pacific Western Bank

Emily joined the SHAWL board in 2011 and is currently serving as the President of the Board.  She has been in banking since 1987 and has a broad base of experience in many facets of human capital management.

“I have had experience with family members who have struggled with addiction and homelessness and have a personal understanding of how difficult it is to find resources to partner and invest in a full transformation of a life.   SHAWL’s model of services and on-going support truly address the whole person and a long-term set of solutions are part of the programs provided.  Once introduced to SHAWL, I quickly felt a connection and felt drawn to the women who call SHAWL home.   It’s a privilege to be involved and to be a witness to the life-changing impact that SHAWL is having in the lives of women in the South Bay.”

Patricia Harris DiLeva, President, In Any Event

Patricia Harris DiLeva is a seasoned event planning professional, specializing in sports and entertainment. In 2012 she founded In Any Event, a full-service event management firm. Prior to In Any Event, she spent 18 years with Perelman, Pioneer & Company in Los Angeles, CA. While with Perelman, Pat worked in the areas of event marketing, media operations, event management and production.  Throughout her career Pat has overseen the management of a variety of major events for a notable list of clients, including the Los Angeles Marathon, the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Los Angeles Convention Center, FIFA Women’s World Cup and Major League Baseball.

A native of Washington, D.C., Pat currently resides in Redondo Beach, CA with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.

Mikel A. Glavinovich, Partner, Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck, LLP

Mikel has been a member of the SHAWL board since 2016. Her legal practice focuses on issues involving insurance coverage, and she has provided pro bono assistance to the Alliance for Children’s Rights, as well as the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Clinic. She is also a past member of the vestry at Christ Church Episcopal in Redondo Beach. Ms. Glavinovich is inspired by the strength and commitment of SHAWL’s staff and feels very fortunate to play a role in helping women reclaim the lives that they were meant to lead.

Jim Howat