WLALA to Present Annual Holiday Dinner at the Downtown Women's Center
by Katherine M. Forster
When you walk in these doors, it feels like somebody just grabs you, just embraces you. When you think nobody cares, there’s a lot of people who care. – Fannie Mayfield, Downtown Women’s Center participant
Each December, WLALA provides a holiday meal and good cheer at the Downtown Women’s Center. The Downtown Women’s Center is a nonprofit organization that serves over 5,000 homeless women annually and provides permanent supportive housing for 71 residents in the Los Angeles Skid Row area. Since 1978, the Downtown Women’s Center has remained the only organization in the Skid Row area exclusively serving the needs of homeless women, in particular the mentally ill.
The Downtown Women’s Center is nationally recognized as a prototype for unique and effective programs serving homeless women and ending homelessness. Services include meals, personalized case management, an on-site medical clinic, health workshops and screenings, computer literacy, government benefits advocacy, support groups, job counseling, and self-expression classes. In addition, the Center recently launched MADE by DWC, a café and gift shop that provides job skills training and product development opportunities to help break the cycle of poverty and chronic unemployment. More information about the Center may be found online at www.dwcweb.org.
This year’s dinner is scheduled for December 7, 2011. Volunteers will serve dinner to approximately 60 Center participants and then mingle with the ladies during the entertainment portion of the evening. By tradition, Judge Diana Wheatley will lead carol singing, and as this newsletter goes to press, the Center is confirming plans for a dinnertime concert as part of the “Home Tour” with featured artist Mary McBride. The Home Tour is an annual concert tour of “places people call home,” including long-term health care centers, homeless shelters, homes in low-income communities, homes for people living with HIV/AIDS and homes for people living with mental and physical disabilities.
Special events like the annual WLALA holiday dinner are one small part of what makes the Downtown Women’s Center such a special place. WLALA Members are encouraged to participate in the dinner by making a cash or in-kind donation or by volunteering at the event itself. Information about cash donations, needed in-kind donations (desserts, drinks, paper/plastic items, etc. for the dinner, plus other items needed at the Center) and volunteer sign-up information is available through the WLALA office or on the WLALA website at www.wlala.org. Please note that the Center has asked that WLALA limit the number of volunteers to no more than 25, so please RSVP early!
Katherine M. Forster serves on the WLALA Board of Governors as DWC Liaison and is a Past President of WLALA (2008-2009). She is a partner in the labor and employment department at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where she defends class action and single-plaintiff employment cases and advises employers on labor law compliance.