The Los Angeles Mission honored two individuals Tuesday at its annual Legacy of Vision Gala.
Entertainer Nick Cannon was honored by Kirk and Anne Douglas with the “Anne Douglas Center for Woman Award” for his “Vision, leadership and commitment” to human dignity and personal achievement. And long-time Mission volunteer Judy Bork received the “Legacy of Vision” award for her commitment and support.
“We honored two very dedicated and deserving persons,” said Herb Smith, President of the Los Angeles Mission. “Both Nick and Judy have made it possible for the Mission and so many other charities to serve the LA community. We appreciate those who give time, who help highlight the issues facing the homeless today and who support the work we and others do every day.”
When Judy Bork volunteered at the Los Angeles Mission, she went all out. And among the beneficiaries was David Thomas – at the time homeless and participant in the Mission’s long-term rehab program. Thomas couldn‚Äôt read, and Bork took the time, dedication and patience to teach him. The result for Thomas was a life restored. For Bork it was another quiet but significant impact on the lives of the hurting in her 20-plus years of volunteering. Today Thomas is the Assistant Food Service Manager at the Los Angeles Mission. He went from his Mission graduation to the Culinary Arts Institute, and then back to preparing 1,500 meals a day for the homeless.
“God gave me a heart for the poor,” said Bork on receiving her recognition. “For the past 20 years I have developed a passion for working the poor and disadvantaged, and have volunteered with several agencies. I love working with those who are allowing the Lord to reconstruct their lives at the Los Angeles Mission and other organizations locally and internationally.”
Cannon was the host of the evening’s program, but that changed when Kirk and Anne Douglas came onto the stage and presented him with his Tiffany and Company-designed award for service to the community.
“It was very humbling to have the honor of meeting and being presented with an award by the legendary Kirk Douglas” said Cannon. “This was a very special and proud moment for me, and I appreciate the Douglases and the Los Angeles Mission for allowing me to be a part of their prestigious event. I look forward to continuing my work with them to help fight hunger and homelessness.”
Last year at the Gala, Kirk Douglas surprised his wife with a $5-million pledge to the Mission in her honor. The donation was a doubling of his gift announced earlier in 2012. The $10-Million total gift is pledged over the next two decades.
Several Mission graduates spoke with guests during the reception time prior to the dinner, and appeared on stage during the event to talk about their experiences.
Diane Morales talked about creating the Anne Douglas Center’s eBay site, and her desire to continue her education. “After I finish school, I plan on pursuing a career in the IT field,” Morales said. Her husband, Javier Morales came to the Mission together to rebuild their lives. They were married after their 2010 Mission graduation. Javier has been working in the Mission’s maintenance department, and plans to pursue a career as an electrician.
Shannon Schumaker graduated in 2009, and works with the homeless at the Weingart Center, a Skid Row area service provider. She is working toward an Associate Degree in college currently, with the goal of completing college to work in community development. “The Los Angeles mission gave me hope that relit my fire and spark for life,” Schumaker said.
Also on hand was 2011 graduate Juan Johnson, currently working as night manager at Fresco Market. His goal is to move up in the company and become a store manager.
The ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills was transformed to accommodate the dozens of tables donors purchased for the fundraiser. Guests showed up to support the Douglas‚Äô and to show their financial support for the Skid Row community served by the Mission. There was a silent auction started on site. Bids can still be entered until Tuesday October 15, 2013 here.
The event included a culinary extravaganza by Chef Ashley James, executive chef of the Four Seasons, who prepared menus for both the reception and the dinner. “Through food, passion and sharing we can change the world, just as Los Angeles Mission has been doing for so many years,” said Chef James. “Its a huge honor to be part of this amazing event, inspiring future hope, as everyone deserves to be treated like a star once in a while.”
Presenting entertainment for the evening was the Rat Pack Band, who paid tribute to the music and comedy of the Frank Sinatra-led Rat Pack.
Sponsors for the event included the John W. Carson Foundation, City National Bank, BET and Northbound.
Los Angeles Mission was established in 1936 as a soup kitchen and Christian outreach to homeless men on Skid Row. During the depression years, homeless and unemployed men struggled on the streets of cities across America. Soup kitchens were started and bread lines were formed, often supported by religious and civic groups to provide food to the needy. The Los Angeles Mission started in just this manner.
Several decades later, in the mid 1980’s, it was clear that the needs of the homeless overwhelmed the capacity of Mission’s original Los Angeles Street building, and the organization set out to expand. Vacant property at the corner of 5th and Wall Street was purchased and the present facility was built. It was dedicated in 1992.
With that new facility, the Mission was the first in Lost Angeles to establish a dedicated women’s center – The Anne Douglas Center for Women – a long-term residential rehabilitation facility endowed by Kirk and Anne Douglas. It was a tour of the old Mission by the Douglases and the realization by Anne that there was no place for women that led to her passion to help the women. The doors to a new facility for women opened in February 1992.
For more than 75 years, the Los Angeles Mission has served homeless and hurting men and women of downtown Los Angeles, providing emergency services such as shelter, food and clothing. In addition, the Los Angeles Mission also offers long-term residential rehabilitation programs, including education, job training, transitional housing and counseling.