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St. Joseph Center: Helping Hands in Venice, CA

| June 11, 2009

It’s always sad to see a colleague go. But that sadness quickly turns to joy when you see them back at work for tikkun olam, social good.

Such is the case with Jacob Donnelly, an alumni of UCLA and MAZON’s Donor Services. He recently volunteered for The Venice Chronic Homeless Intervention Project, a major survey project benefiting Venice, CA’s homeless population. Here’s a short description of the project from the L.A. Times:

Throughout Venice, scores of [homeless people] sprawl in alleyways, on blankets under palm trees and near the canals in cardboard boxes. Many are addled by mental illness, drugs or alcohol. Some have life-threatening ailments.

And St. Joseph Center, a Venice-based social service agency that has served poor and homeless individuals for more than 30 years, wants to find them before it’s too late.

Between 3 and 6 a.m. on May 18, 19 and 20, teams of staff members from local nonprofit groups and government agencies, along with community volunteers, visited areas where long-term homeless people tend to sleep. In the most dangerous spots, Los Angeles police officers accompanied the teams.

Using a questionnaire developed by a Boston doctor with expertise in treating homeless people, the volunteers surveyed and photographed more than 200 men and women, asking how long people had been homeless and whether they had been diagnosed with physical or mental illnesses.

For more information on the project, its participants & the difficulties of treating some of the most vulnerable populations, read the full article at L.A. Times.

The project’s sponsoring agency, St. Joseph Center, also has a food pantry for working poor families, and a unique program: the Bread and Roses Café. The Bread and Roses Café serves meals to 150 homeless men, women & children daily in a small sit-down restaurant rather than a traditional soup line. Volunteers act as waiters, serving delicious dishes prepared by an in-house Culinary Training Program. It’s a great way to meet basic needs with dignity & respect, and build a community together. Like any other restaurant, it can get hectic during rushes, but above all it’s very efficient, very satisfying and lots of fun (I speak from experience; MAZON’s staff volunteered for a day at the Café last year).

We’ve also learned that St. Joseph Center has brought on Jacob as a crisis counselor & mental health specialist. Mazel Tov, Jacob, on your graduation from UCLA, your new position and your commitment to social justice!

2 Responses

  1. Jacob says:

    Aw shucks you made me blush. Love you guys, keep up the great work!

  2. [...] There: Photography by Homeless Women in Venice, CA Jump to Comments Recently, we profiled St. Joseph’s Center, a MAZON grantee with several projects surveying & sustaining Venice, CA’s homeless [...]

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