For the last 39 years, the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) in Los Angeles has been serving women experiencing homelessness in Skid Row. DWC– a partner of Los Angeles Regional Food Bank – serves meals for 200 women daily throughout the year. But on Thanksgiving Day, DWC provides more than just a meal. It goes above and beyond to make the holiday special and joyful for the women it serves – women who are struggling through difficult times.
“For people experiencing homelessness, the holidays can be a lonely time,” said Ana Velouise, communications and public affairs director for DWC. “Homelessness is isolating, and women living through it often miss family and friends throughout the year. The holidays can intensify these feelings, so we strive to make Thanksgiving as fun and cheerful as possible.”
Thanksgiving Day at DWC begins at 8 a.m. with karaoke (inevitably leading to dancing). It also provides arts and crafts activities, and women work together to create a “Giving Tree” by naming what they are thankful for on paper leaves. Women mix and mingle with volunteers, and the day concludes with a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
“The atmosphere here during Thanksgiving is very positive and joyful!” said Ana. “And I attribute much of that to our volunteers. We have wonderful volunteers whose efforts really make this a special day for everyone.”
It takes about 30 volunteers to put on Thanksgiving Day at the Downtown Women’s Center. Most are regulars who bring friends and family and look forward to the celebration all year. “Our volunteers tell us what a meaningful experience it is for them to be here during the holidays,” said Ana. “They appreciate getting to interact with the women, and doing so much more than dish up a plate of food.” “We’re proud that we’ve created a holiday celebration that encourages connection and community, and can help the women we serve experience a safe, healthy, loving community for a while,” continued Ana. “The day means a lot to us and the women we serve – and we hope it leaves everyone involved with positive memories that they can cherish all year long.”
Across the country, millions of our neighbors are in need of a meal, particularly during the holiday season. Please consider donating today to Downtown Women's Center or Feeding America to help provide meals tomorrow.
Photos courtesy of Downtown Women's Center