Home Again Los Angeles Fundraiser Receives Community Support

(Photos by David Laurell) - Home Again Los Angeles CEO Albert Hernandez with board officers Joylene Wagner and Jessa Freemyer, who co-chaired the 2022 Empty Bowl fundraiser

First published in the Nov. 5 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, who represents the 43rd Assembly District, was one of more than 400 people who gathered at the Glendale Methodist Church for the Burbank-based Home Again Los Angeles’ Empty Bowl fundraiser last week.
Taking to the stage of the church’s Carlson Fellowship Hall, Friedman acknowledged the nonprofit organization’s work that has seen more than 2,000 individuals transition from living on the streets or in their cars into permanent housing.
She thanked the supporters in attendance, the group’s staff and board members, and Albert Hernandez, who serves as chief executive officer.
“Albert has done an amazing job,” she said, motioning to the man who, since he came on board in 2015, has helped rebuild the organization by instituting creative funding streams, establishing new partnerships to expand services, and adopting innovative programs such as rapid rehousing, transitional housing and homeless prevention. Under his leadership the organization has grown, and they now have sites in Burbank and Glendale.
“The dedication of Albert and his staff has seen 643 households have a pace to live and a pillow under their heads,” Freidman said. “They have helped them catch-up on rent and assisted them in attaining and maintaining housing.”
Following her comments, Friedman joined her 8-year-old daughter Rachel Lemoine in selecting a ceramic bowl handcrafted by a local potter. With that decision made they then had to decide on which one of the various soups provided by six local restaurants they wanted for lunch.

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While people filed into the “soup line” to enjoy the day’s offerings provided by Tequilas Cantina & Grill, Coral Café, Kitchen on San Fernando, Metropolitan Culinary Services, Romancing the Bean, the New Deal and Kathy Sessinghaus, Hernandez expressed his gratitude to members of the Burbank Chapter of National Charity League who volunteered to be the servers for the event.
“When I look around this room, I am so grateful to everyone who has made this a success,” Hernandez said. “All of the volunteers, the artists who created and donated the bowls, our sponsors, and everyone who has come out to support us.”
According to Hernandez, this event, which is the organization’s longest-running fundraiser, is one that brings out the most supporters.
“We have been doing this for 15 years and it has always been a success,” said Hernandez, who even employed creative solutions to keep the popular fundraiser going through the pandemic. “I think that is because at $40 per person it is affordable to those who maybe can’t afford the $100 or more to attend a gala. This event also means a lot to me personally because I know for the person who can only afford $40 it provides them with the opportunity to help and it means as much, if not more, to them than for those who are able to give much higher amounts.”
This year’s Empty Bowl event made possible by sponsors who made donations on various levels of support were headed up by the Cusumano Real Estate Group, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, Patterson Graphics and Metropolitan Culinary Services.
Others whose commitment to making the fundraiser a success included board chair Patrick Garney and board members Joylene Wagner and Jessa Freemyer who co-chaired the event, Deborah Wierick, Carol Nunez, Alex Parajon, Amanda Adams, Romik Hacobian, Laurie Krattiger, Rev. Todd Leonard, Steve Mora, Crystal Nathaniel, Brian Volpei, Dr. William Wang and David A. Zuckerman.
Established in 2010 under its previous name, Home Again Los Angeles works with homeless families to help them achieve lasting independence. Partnering with a network of local interfaith congregations and volunteers, they also provide safe shelter, meals and support services such as counseling and job readiness for those in the Burbank, North Hollywood, Glendale and Eagle Rock areas.
The organization’s day-to-day work is handled by Hernandez and his staff members Jose “JP” Pentecostes, Carrie Prado, Krystal Lee, Janice Casazza-Piatak, Lisa Partida, Renee Johnson, Lewis Kim, Chaquitta Boyce and Tatiana Garcia.
For more information about the work of and support opportunities with Home Again Los Angeles, visit HomeAgainLA.org.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.