Feeding the Homeless for the Holidays
By: Fernando Romero, Beachcomber - 11/24/06
With the holiday season reaching its apogee, for some people, there is nothing that can compare to receiving a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving as well as a sign of hope on the horizon.
In what has become an annual tradition that has become a rite of its own, this Thanksgiving the Long Beach Rescue Mission served more than 1,000 homeless people in need of a holiday meal.
The Long Beach Rescue Mission is one of the largest service providers to the destitute and homeless in Long Beach and the South Bay area since 1972.
Entering its 35th year, the Rescue Mission is unrelenting in its efforts to provide services and food to the needy and hungry. This holiday season is no different. In addition to the annual Thanksgiving Eve dinner, the organization revamped its endeavors and amplified its services by establishing a Pancake Breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.
CEO for the Rescue Mission Jim Lewis is satisfied and enthusiastic about the addition of a second event to an already jubilant affair.
“The idea to include an event on Thanksgiving morning was because it would help out more people,” said Lewis. “What it does is that it doubles our services and we’ll be able to feed more people. Also, it helps us spread out all of our volunteers more carefully. By having it on Thanksgiving morning, it gets everyone home by noon on Thanksgiving.”
As in past years, hundreds of people arrived to receive holiday meals at the Rescue Mission located on Pacific Ave and Anaheim St. Lewis said a setback did not impede the event from proceeding. He said the Mission endured a loss of over 300 turkeys that were stocked up in one of the freezers. “One of our freezers where we had over 300 turkeys stored stopped working and by the time we figured it out, it was already too late,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the organization is persevering on overcoming obstacles. “We need to rebuild that stock,” he said referring to the loss of the turkeys. “Fortunately, food does come in a lot during this time of year,” he added. The CEO said the event was a success and a similar format is scheduled for Christmas. The dual experience of a dinner on Christmas Eve followed by an early morning breakfast, will once again be implemented.
Referring to the strong bond the Rescue Mission has with the public and similar organizations he said that particular factor is what makes helping the impoverished much easier. The organization is dependent on donations from the public as well as the private sector ... “It takes a community to help a community,” he said.
For Thanksgiving, the mission had no problems enlisting volunteers to help prepare and serve during both meals. The group is looking forward to the Christmas events and needs more volunteers. The mission welcomes donations of foods, canned and fresh fruits and vegetables. The group, along with other non-profit organizations from the area, will coordinate food pickups and food drives.
“For Christmas we’re also going to be needing donations of toys for a toy drive as well as stockings,” Lewis said. A non-profit organization, the Rescue Mission is dedicated to serving the area’s homeless population. The organization is divided into two units each separated along the lines of gender. The Samaritan shelter is designed for males and the Lydia for females. Each unit provides services which are specific for predicaments relating to either men or women. On top of meals, the non-profit group provides its residents with a job search and programs aimed at correcting drug addictions.
“What we try to do is identify the needs of individuals. When those needs are identified, we administer what needs to be done to meets those needs and move them forward,” he said.
The mission is an emblematic representation of generosity in the Long Beach area Lewis said. It’s only been two-months since taking over the helm of the Rescue Mission after moving from Coachella Valley where he served as CEO of a similar entity.
“I see a lot of progress. I feel blessed and honored to have been chosen to come to Long Beach, “he said. “What I do gives me and everyone who helps great satisfaction.”
The Rescue Mission will once again be holding holiday meals for the homeless on Christmas. For more information on donations or volunteering contact Community Development Director Jesse Krohmer at (562) 591-1292 ext.13.