Making a difference for a Merry Christmas

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Chrysalis President Adlai Wertman with Malibu's Alan Long.

Malibu resident Alan Long gifts homeless organization with $1.6 million.

By Kim Devore / Staff Writer

There are some unlikely Santas in the city and Malibu resident Alan Long is definitely one of them. The former head of DLB Real Estate and current president of Sotheby’s International Realty made a dream come true for the nonprofit Chrysalis organization and the thousands of homeless men and women it helps every day. His Christmas present? A brand new $1.6 million Santa Monica headquarters.

Long didn’t start out as an advocate for the homeless. His association began with a dinner conversation with a colleague about three years ago.

“We were talking about all the homeless people in front of our offices and decided we were personally going to do something about it,” Long said in a recent telephone interview.

The next day, Long had a change of plan, but not a change of heart.

“When the wine wore off, we realized that neither one of us were qualified to deal with these people,” he said, “but what we could do was find and back people who were.”

Long began his research and the trail led him to Chrysalis. The organization is headed by Adlai Wertman, a big time banker who turned his back on Wall Street and headed for Skid Row to help the homeless. The idea behind the organization is to give the economically disadvantaged the means to become self-sufficient by giving them “a hand up rather than a hand out.”

Long was so impressed with the organization that he even got his agents to pitch in every time they would close an escrow. Through various education and training programs, Long started to see how his dollars were making a difference and the programs have never been in greater demand.

“The homeless situation is just getting worse and worse and we can barely make a dent,” he said. “You can get overwhelmed by the numbers so you just have to focus on helping them one soul at a time.”

Earlier this year, the organization was making plans to borrow $1.6 million for a new building in Santa Monica, which would serve as its first permanent client service center in the area. At about the same time, Long found himself in for a windfall of cash.

“All of a sudden, I get this call from Sotheby’s in New York and they said they wanted to buy my real estate company,” he recalls. “They quoted me a price and said they would let me stay on as president.”

His next call was to Wertman.

“I told him I know this organization is going to be around a long, long time. I want to do something wonderful for you and pay off the mortgage. He got really emotional and we both started crying on the phone,” Long recalled. “It all happened so quickly, but I just thought it was the right thing to do.”

Long said the gift to Chrysalis gives him more pleasure than he ever imagined, especially when people ask about all the money he made in his real estate sale.

“They always want to know what was the one crazy thing I bought for myself-my one mad purchase. Was it a Ferrari? Was it a Maserati? I tell them I bought a building for Chrysalis,” he said. “And that gives me more satisfaction than any toy.”

Chrysalis, founded in 1984 as a food and clothing distribution center serving homeless people living on Skid Row, is the only nonprofit in Los Angeles County exclusively dedicated to helping the homeless become self-sufficient through employment opportunities. The Santa Monica headquarters are located at 1853 Lincoln Blvd. More information can be obtained by calling 310.392.4117 or visiting the Web Site www.changelives.org