Stepping up to serve the community is why two political leaders chose to go above and beyond to touch the lives of desperate people in downtown L.A. This is also the reason that these two men were honored by the Los Angeles Mission in its third annual Legacy of Vision Gala at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.
Tuesday’s event focused on the Mission’s services to homeless families and veterans through vital programs designed to remake and restore their lives.
This year’s honorees were former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former U. S. Congressman David Dreier. They received the Anne Douglas Award, presented each year to individuals who have made significant contributions to the community. The award is named for Mrs. Anne Douglas, the creative force and benefactor behind the Anne Douglas Center for Women at the Los Angeles a Mission and the wife of actor Kirk Douglas.
“The Los Angeles Mission has worked with both of our honorees for years,” said Herb Smith, President of the Mission. “They have supported the work of the Mission both publicly and behind the scenes. The public sees them at our holiday events not only serving meals but also washing the feet of people who are astonished when they realize who is helping them. What we also appreciate is their support and wise counsel behind the scenes along with their dedication to far-reaching goals of getting life restoring services to our city’s homeless.”
“What initially made me come down to the Mission was hearing about how it was having an actual impact on the lives of people. I wanted to see if that could possibly be true. I saw for myself that it actually was true,” says Villaraigosa. “What kept me coming back to the Los Angeles Mission was the impact the Mission had on me and on my life. I never expected that serving in the humblest way: washing the feet of the homeless would move me to tears. Presenting me with a whole new dimension of how giving to others can change your own life.”
“The Los Angeles Mission is a very special place,” said Dreier. “I’m honored to have had a quarter century long affiliation as a member of the foundation Board. My friends Anne and Kirk (Douglas) continue to be my model. My hope is to replicate their work as our fellow Angelenos strive to become productive members of society.”
Miguel A. Núñez Jr., known for his numerous roles in films and television, hosted the evening¹s festivities. Núñez has also appeared in “Juwanna Mann,” produced “School Dance”, and written, produced and appeared in “Belle’s” on TV One.
Steve Amerson, “America¹s Tenor” provided entertainment for the evening. He is a renowned recording artist and concert musician whose voice is recognizable from more than 160 films and television programs. In his 20-year career Amerson has recorded 17 albums, had more than 100 compositions published by Word Music and other publishing companies, and performed for many Christian events including the Billy Graham Crusades. Sixteen of his albums were produced for Amerson Music Ministries, a label he established as a nonprofit organization.
Sponsors for the event include the John W. Carson Foundation, the Goldwin Foundation, Wells Fargo Bank, City National Bank, the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Charity and others.
Los Angeles Mission was established in 1936 as a soup kitchen and Christian outreach to homeless men on Skid Row. During the depression years, many homeless and unemployed men struggled on the streets of cities across America. It was during the days of burgeoning bread lines and no food stamps. Soup kitchens, often supported by religious and civic groups, were established to feed the needy. The Los Angeles Mission was begun for just this reason.
Several decades later, in the mid 1980’s, it was clear the Mission organization had outgrown its original Los Angeles Street building. The Mission saw the need to expand and purchased vacant property at the corner of 5th and Wall Street. The present Mission facility was built there and was dedicated in 1992 to serve an ever-increasing homeless population.
With that new facility, the Mission was the first in Lost Angeles to establish a dedicated women¹s 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 which spurred Anne’s interest in creating a safe place for women. Her passion to help the women opened both minds and doors. The result? A women’s facility was endowed and constructed through her efforts. Named for Anne, it opened in February of 1992.
For more than 78 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.