HomeCommunity NewsLaurell: Filling an Empty Bowl for Home Again Los Angeles

Laurell: Filling an Empty Bowl for Home Again Los Angeles

It would be a struggle to drive through the majority of the 88 cities that make up Los Angeles County and not be confronted with the realization of homelessness.

While much of the nation and the world envision La La Land as a glamorous region in which bronzed sufferers bask in the sun on the decks of their Malibu beach houses and movie stars with prestigious addresses in the Hollywood, Beverly and Holmby hills roam their magnificent mansions surrounded by posh pools and lavish lawns, locals are all too well aware it is also a region of tremendous struggle — a land of the hungry and unhoused.

For most people, even when they see the tents and makeshift cardboard shelters peppered throughout Los Angeles, unless they have personally experienced such a struggle, it is still difficult to truly understand the hardships of those who don’t know where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep on any given night.

President Joe Biden’s sister Valerie Owens, perhaps, put it best when she once said: “To talk about a struggle, you’re likely to forget about it. To be shown a struggle, you’re likely not to forget it. But, to live through a struggle, you’ll understand it.”

Doing all they can to educate the people of Burbank and our surrounding areas of that hard-to-comprehend struggle, Home Again Los Angeles, whose mission is to help the hungry, the unhoused, and those on the verge of losing their homes, recently staged their annual Empty Bowl fundraiser.

Beginning in Michigan back in the early 1990s, Empty Bowl events have become an international, grassroots effort to fight hunger in America. Working with local supporters, restaurants, pottery artists, and arts associations, HALA invites supporters to select a ceramic bowl handcrafted by a local artisan and to then use the vessel to enjoy a variety of soups provided by local eateries for a $40 donation. They then take their bowl home to serve as a lasting reminder of the hunger and uncertainty unhoused families face on a daily basis.

Among the more than 300 HALA supporters who filled Albert Hall at Saint Finbar Catholic Church for the event were Burbank Vice Mayor Nick Schultz and City Councilwoman Nikki Pérez. Also in attendance were state Sen. Anthony Portantino, and former Burbank mayors Jess Talamantes and Marsha Ramos who all serve on HALA’s advisory board.

This year’s Empty Bowl fundraiser was co-chaired by Amanda Adams who serves as a production manager for AMC Networks and local attorney David Zuckerman. Made possible by numerous volunteers and sponsors headed by the Cusumano Family Foundation, GAIN Federal Credit Union, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and Warner Bros. Discovery, the selection of soups that were served were donated by Coral Café, Diane Mina’s Backyard Bar & Eats, Guy Fieri’s Kitchen and Bar, Lunch Box, Kitchen on San Fernando, Metropolitan Culinary Services, Tequilas Burbank and World Empanadas.

Taking to the stage to thank everyone who made the event a success, HALA Chief Executive Albert Hernandez reminded the assemblage that October is Home Again Los Angeles Month.

“During this month, we will be celebrating the life altering work we provide — the critical resources we make available to households throughout our region that continues to be a need in the communities we serve,” said Hernandez. “Whether it be immediate shelter, one-time financial assistance, housing navigation, or intensive case management. Home Again Los Angeles continues to pursue methods to bring real solutions to those in need. All of which wouldn’t be possible without you.”

If you would like to support the work of HALA this month, there are various opportunities to do so. If you make a monetary donation through the end of the month it will be matched by the Open Hearts Foundation, up to $15,000.

If you shop at the Burbank Macy’s between Oct. 16 and 31 and round up your purchase, 100% of the proceeds will go to HALA. You can also help HALA by registering a team to play at its annual Cornhole Tournament, which will take place at 11 a.m. on Oct. 21 at Nickelodeon Animation Studios. This event will bring together supporters from throughout the region for bean bag tossing and the sampling of beers from local breweries.

Home Again Los Angeles is a Burbank-based nonprofit that provides food, transitional housing, rental assistance, educational workshops, counseling, and job-readiness training to families in need. In 2022-23, the organization provided aid to 699 households by helping local families secure housing or preventing them from losing their homes.

For more information about Home Again Los Angeles, or to register a team for their Cornhole Tournament, visit HomeAgainLA.org.

City Councilwoman Nikki Pérez, Vice Mayor Nick Schultz and former Mayor Marsha Ramos with their selected bowls.
Among the volunteer soup servers at this year’s event were Abrianna and Traci Lalicata of National Charity League.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino, who serves as a HALA advisory board member, welcomed Suzanne and Chris Weerts to the 2023 Empty Bowl fundraiser.
More than 300 supporters “bowled” for dollars to help continue the work of HALA.
With soup one must have bread, and National Charity League volunteers Kelly Lands and Penny Manash made sure all were served well.
Former Mayor and Home Again Los Angeles advisory board member Jess Talamantes and his wife Sandy filled their bowls and bellies for the cause.

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

First published in the October 14 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]