It was an evening to remember at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel, September 21st, 2011, as the Los Angeles Mission celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a special gala event.

Wednesday’s black-tie gala was the first of its kind for the Mission, and honored Anne and Kirk Douglas with the inaugural “Anne Douglas Center for Women Award” for their outstanding and continuous work on behalf of the women’s center at the Los Angeles Mission named for Mrs. Douglas. The stunning award was designed, created, and donated by Tiffany & Co.

Los Angeles Mission was established in 1936 as a soup kitchen and Christian outreach to homeless men on Skid Row. During the depression years, the needs of homeless and unemployed men were great on the streets of cities across America. Soup kitchens and bread lines were formed by religious and civic groups to provide food to the needy. One of those soup kitchens was the beginnings of the Los Angeles Mission.

By 1986, 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 and 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. The doors to a new facility for women opened in February 1992.

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’ and to show their financial support for the Skid Row community served by the Mission.

Before the award ceremony began, guests chatted with the Douglases and congratulated them on their philanthropic work and the award.

“I am proud of my wife for many things, her work with the Anne Douglas Center for Women is just one of them,” said Kirk Douglas. “When we got married, 57 years ago, Anne was determined to do something for her new country. She has never stopped.”

The Los Angeles Mission’s Women’s outreach was named after Anne Douglas in recognition of Mrs. Kirk Douglas’ long-standing compassionate generosity to the homeless. In 1990, Anne Douglas came to the Los Angeles Mission saying, “If I had but one wish, I think becoming a recognized patron of homeless men and women would be it. I hope together we will be able to alleviate their plight entirely.”

Women, drained of emotions, suicidal, and alone, can now come to the Anne Douglas center for help. Lives which were once filled with incidents of physical, sexual and emotional abuse that now have an opportunity to turn their lives around. At the Anne Douglas Center, women are welcomed and offered the chance to transform their lives and regain their dignity.

“It was a pleasure to be able to share this night with our friends Kirk and Anne,” said Herb Smith, President of the Los Angeles Mission. “They are not only friends of the Mission, but also to the thousands of homeless individuals they have helped through their generous contributions to the Los Angeles Mission.”

“Census Bureau statistics released just last week show that 1-in-6 Americans live in poverty – more than 46-million men, women and children. These are staggering numbers,” said Smith. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work by all of us to build this country back to what it once was. And at the Mission we are here; feeding people one at a time, every day of every week for three-quarters of a century.”

Los Angeles Mission’s proven ability over the past 75 years to adapt to the changing face of homelessness gives confidence to the Mission’s passion to continue to meet the ever-evolving needs of people on Skid Row.

At the Mission, hope begins with a meal, so it was natural to focus on food at the 75th Anniversary Gala. The event included a culinary collaboration between Chef Ashley James, executive chef of the Four Seasons, Chef Ben Ford, executive chef of Ford’s Filling Station and Chef Chris Cormier, food service director of the Los Angeles Mission.

And there was music. The evening’s performances highlighted the musical talents of Ben Vereen, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., Debby Boone and Deniece Williams. Master of Ceremonies was Byron Allen.

Sponsors for the event included the John W. Carson Foundation, Wells Fargo Bank, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and the Russ Reid Company.

For 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.

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