Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, 40% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck. Now, in the midst of mandatory lockdowns and layoffs, the United States is facing a new type of crisis: the homelessness pandemic. As we look forward to a vaccine and getting back to a normal way of life, some people, like Neli Vazquez Rowland, are looking towards the long term impacts of the pandemic. 

On this week’s episode of the Hope Matrix, I spoke with Neli Vazquez Rowland, the Co-Founder and President of A Safe Haven (ASH). ASH is an award-winning vertically integrated social and economic development model that rebuilds the lives of individuals impacted by poverty, substance abuse, prison reentry, and homelessness. The ASH model uses a holistic, integrated, and individualized multi-disciplinary approach to offer addiction treatment, education, healthcare, job training/placement, and supportive and affordable housing development. ASH has served over 10,000 people since 1994, and is currently serving over 5,000 individuals each year.

Neli began this week’s episode by examining the effect of the pandemic-related lockdowns and layoffs on American homelessness, and outlining the steps ASH is taking to prepare for the rise in homelessness across America. Neli and I also discussed the helplessness and despair (the two ingredients of hopelessness) that many Americans experience when facing the homelessness issue, and reviewed the hope tools, such as Stress Skills, that we can use to return to a hopeful, critical-thinking mindset.  Finally, Neli presented inspired actions that we can take to help address the root cause of homelessness. 

To learn more about Neli’s work, visit and   The full episode of this week’s podcast can be viewed at, or on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.


  • Kathryn Goetzke

    MBA, Global Hope Ambassador, iFred Founder, Chief Mood Officer

    iFred, The Mood Factory

    Kathryn Goetzke is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, strategic consultant and global depression advocate. She is the entrepreneur and innovator behind Mood-lites™, a brand that achieved over 35 million dollars in retail sales. As her role as Chief Mood Officer at The Mood Factory, her goal is to ‘Improve Moods’ by teaching consumers how to get in the present moment through engaging the senses. Armed with an MBA in International Marketing, an undergraduate degree in Psychology, over 20 years of experience with small and Fortune 100 companies, and a successful product launch of her own under her belt, she aims to do just that with her new line of product based on how scents impact moods and 21 Day Courses teaching how to rewire the brain. In addition to launching Mood-lites, Goetzke founded a non-profit organization for depression called iFred (the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression – dedicated to eradicating the stigma of the disease using the sunflower, a focus on hope, the color yellow, celebrity engagement, creating hopeful mindsets, and education on the biology of the brain. According to the World Health Organization, there are 300 million people around the world with major depressive disorder, yet depression is treatable and episodes often preventable. She is most excited about her Hopeful Minds initiative (, based on research that hope is a teachable skill and aimed at teaching kids around the world so they may be equipped to always create, maintain, and sustain hope. Goetzke and her work has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Home, InStyle, Family Living, Scholastic Choices Magazine, and others. She has spoken at the United Nations, World Bank, Global Mental Health Conference, Mental Health Community Associations Conference, the Scent Marketing Institute, and more. She has been featured on multiple radio and television shows including BBC, WGN Chicago, CBS Chicago, Tasty Trade, and eWomenNetwork. Goetzke is a regular contributor to the Thrive Global and PsychCentral, writes regularly for iFred and The Mood Factory, and serves on advisory boards for FundaMentalSDG, the Global Mental Health Movement, and Women's Brain Project, and is a member of the Founding Steering Committee Member of YMentalHealth, a global coalition for youth mental health nonprofits. Goetzke has a Master of Business Administration degree in International Marketing Management from the University of St. Thomas, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, International Studies and Biology from Winona State University. She currently resides in Reno, NV, where she enjoys hiking, meeting new people, playing with her nieces, exploring the mountains, skiing, and solving complex global challenges.