Alexis Goudeau-Philius, RN is a bedside nurse who was motivated to make a difference in her community after observing a concerning amount of homeless people on her daily commutes to work.
Los Angeles has the highest number of unhoused individuals with almost 42,000 people living on the street. Philius has dedicated the last 14 years of her professional life to helping individuals via the medical field, but has now begun her journey as a community leader guiding, directing, and organizing volunteers to help balance out the disparities amongst the homeless.
As a young girl, Philius grew up in a nursing environment and recalled, “My mom was a nurse, and she would tell me about her day and all the crazy stories that happened at the hospital. The rewards that came with being a nurse inspired me, because nurses help others at their lowest points. There aren’t a lot of people of color in health and I think it’s important that patients are comfortable and can be serviced by someone familiar that they can trust.”
At the start of her movement, Philius gave out care packages with hygiene supplies and blankets out of her car. In 2015 she became the founder and CEO of her non-profit organization, Highly Favored: A Blessing to Others. The charitable organization’s mission is to help improve the quality of life for all impoverished individuals by providing them with the essential items needed for daily living.
Highly Favored assembles and distributes care packages containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, lotion, deodorant, baby wipes, shampoo/conditioner, etc. The organization also provides informative flyers for locating meal services, showers, local shelter, housing, and more.
Healthcare services include COVID-19 and flu vaccines and blood pressure checks during their street outreach. Highly Favored is also committed to sharing resources and information in English and Spanish. After reviewing their demographics data, Philius recognized the need to reach the Spanish speaking community and help break down language barriers.
In 2018, Philius secured a partnership with the United Nurses Associations of California/ Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP), one of the largest nursing unions in California, and created a biography video that is now shown to all UNAC/UHCP new hires at Kaiser in Southern California during onboarding orientation. Partnerships with UNAC/UHCP, Girl Scouts Greater Los Angeles, Prayer Warriors, New Hermitage Lions Club, and other various charitable organizations, have helped increase awareness around homeless.
Highly Favored has become best-known for their annual backpack drive, Backpack Friday. Backpacks are assembled and given away each year after Thanksgiving to help shift the focus from shopping trend, Black Friday, to Backpack Friday. The drive is a tradition of providing care and dignity to families and individuals in downtown L.A.’s Skid Row neighborhood.
“Backpack Friday is one of my favorite projects. Unselfishly giving to those in need fuels the cause. Helping parents with children is something I empathize with because I have a daughter. I want people to know there are still good people in the world willing to help,” she said.
Philius has spoken at the Alliance of Heath Care Unions, received recognition from former Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson, and awarded the David Lawrence Community Service Award along with a $10,000 grant for her community service and impact.
Within the last three years, Highly Favored has delivered and donated over 1,000 backpacks, attainted over 100 volunteers, and created the Alexis G. Philius Scholarship Program, which awards five African American students with $2,000 that are pursuing a career in healthcare.
When asked about the scholarship program, Philius shared, “The program was created to encourage and promote the need for more African Americans in health care. There’s low representation of Black people in the field. Numerous studies document the underrepresentation in health care. Coming from a single-parent household, I received a scholarship to school, and it really helped me.” Financial obstacles were identified as one of the top challenges to success among minority students in a 2017 study of applicants to nursing programs.
Philius believes compassionate care does not end at the bedside. In addition to all her community efforts, she has also written a children’s book, “Today is a Gift.” The book encourages children and adults to cherish the special moments in life. “I wanted to share the values I instill in my daughter in a book,” she noted.
Highly Favored’s 2023 goals include: improving current programs, starting a 5K walk to increase involvement and funding, and continue to expand the organization. Philius wants residents to “follow your passions, foster relationships, and don’t be afraid to seize opportunities.
“When thinking about giving back, remember it doesn’t have to be big. It’s not hard to help someone, just got to do it!”
Visit Highly Favored | A Blessing To Others at ablessingtoothers.org to learn about community building, donate to the cause, or sign-up to volunteer.