“K” is for “Kitchen” at the homeless shelter

FrizzText’s photo challenge this week is “K”:

Yesterday was the Museum’s Community Service Day. Five of us served lunch to the residents at Turning Point Transitional Housingin Santa Monica.


Turning Point

Established in 1983, and part of the OPCC (Ocean Park Community Center),

 Turning Point Transitional Housing is a 55-bed shelter for homeless men and women that offers housing and supportive services for up to nine months. The project seeks to break the cycle of homelessness and to integrate homeless individuals back into the community by providing comprehensive, individualized services designed to address their physical and emotional needs.

In addition to an individual sleeping area, three meals a day and clothing, Turning Point provides intensive case management, counseling and support groups, specialized programs such as job counseling, money management, health education, computer classes and independent living skills.



Viveca who works in the front office gave us a tour of the building.

  • Residents have to get up at 5:30 am on weekdays, and eat breakfast at 6:45 am. They can stay in the shelter all day but are only allowed in their rooms from 7 pm – 6 am.
  • They have workshops every morning. On Mondays its on health, another day on money management (all residents have to save 60% of their income while staying in the shelter).



We served lasagna – both meat and vegetarian – with salad and garlic bread for lunch.

lasagna, salad and garlic bread

lasagna, salad and garlic bread

Have you ever wondered what happens to the money you throw into public ponds and fountains? Our Museum donates all the money thrown into the pools in our gardens to OPCC.

Michael Pegues, The Events and Outreach Co-coordinator

Michael Pegues, The Events and Outreach Co-coordinator popped in to welcome us

Michael Pegues said “We encourage all community members to come in and meet us.”

For more information on the many projects under the OPCC umbrella click here

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73 Responses to “K” is for “Kitchen” at the homeless shelter

  1. frizztext says:

    KITCHEN with three meals a day for the homeless – wonderful engagement!

  2. Great project. The place looks smart and well looked after! Before I retired I used to work with homeless people.

    • dearrosie says:

      I didn’t know you’d retired Andrew, or that you’d worked with homeless people. They are the invisible people in our cities and I respect you for working with them. Were you a Social Worker? I walked around the dining room chatting to the residents while they were eating, and they all told me such interesting stories …
      The place is well looked after and as you can see it was spotless. All the residents have to do something to keep it running. One man washed the dishes, and one woman cleared the tables and stacked the chairs.

  3. I like this story a LOT — and as usual, we’re on the same page! Just spent Monday serving dinner to a bunch of at-risk young people whose alternative is living on the streets. So great to hear about the museum donating its fountain money, too! Hey, I was reading about your museum possibly merging/buying MOCA — is that true?? How do you feel about that??
    Miss you, Rosie!!

    • dearrosie says:

      What a coincidence that we both served meals to homeless people on the same Monday Betty. Do you remember when we first met that we’d often blog about similar stories? What a shame that we don’t live in the same city.

      Its another Museum that’s possibly merging with MOCA. Not ours.

  4. I have wondered about where the money in fountains goes to – mostly in shopping malls – and sadly, I never assumed that they donated it. I’m glad to find out differently. Thanks!

  5. Elisa says:

    I’ve been a homeless person.

  6. This program sounds like it is quite individualized and focused to be effective and successful.

  7. Mahalia says:

    What a great opportunity to get out of the work-home bubble and learn about make-things-better projects happening in LA! (and, that lunch looked pretty good. they must have some impressive funding sources other than fountain money!)

    • dearrosie says:

      I was happy to offer a few hours of my time on my day off for such a good cause.

      The lunch was tasty. We offered a choice of meat or vegetarian lasagna and several of the residents thanked us for offering a vegetarian option.

      Next weekend at the LA Marathon a lot of runners will be running to raise money for OPCC.
      Thanks for commenting Mahalia.

  8. sybil says:

    What a wonderful endeavour. Kudos to you for getting involved. Can you imagine what life on the street is like for the homeless in winter, in Halifax ?!! Don’t think we have anything like this.

  9. Angeline M says:

    What a wonderful place. So many of the homeless shelters in southern California (I do telephone case management with the homeless) only allow the residents inside for sleeping, and they must leave during the day.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Angeline,
      Thank you for taking the time to introduce yourself. I’m delighted to meet a CA neighbor 🙂

      What an interesting job! If people are homeless how do you speak with them on the phone? Do they all have cell phones?

      Is it unusual for residents in a shelter to have workshops every morning?

  10. I, too, was working at a homeless shelter for mentally ill women over 18 in downtown Seattle on Sunday. It was a grim and underfunded looking place compared to the one in your photos. One organization runs the day program, another the dinner/shower period when night assignemnts are made, and a third runs the sleepi-over component with beds for about 35. I guess it’s all about location, location, location.

    • dearrosie says:

      Good gracious what a huge coincidence that you were volunteering on Sunday and Betty and I on Monday.

      I can’t imagine one shelter being run efficiently by three different organizations. Is that because of serious underfunding?
      When I volunteered at a shelter in Texas we weren’t given a tour of the place, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. Viveca (the woman who gave us the tour), told us the cutbacks in Washington are going to start trickling down to organizations like homeless shelters and with more people losing their jobs that is serious!

  11. This program sounds like a great encouragement to help homeless people get back on their feet and manage their money. Good for you for volunteering, Rosie. 🙂

  12. Our whole family gave time to a homeless shelter for years. In the old days, we could MAKE and bring food from home – the main course, the bread, the desserts, the beverages. It was part of the volunteer process from our church- not only were we giving time with the residents, we were also cooking. That is until the State Of New York put the kaibash on that. The meals are now state regulated, prepared off-site at some state validated kitchen and brought frozen mostly. Then, if, and only if, the individual center had the funds, they could make their own salad. The last few times we served meals there I thought, ugh, the meals were awful – casseroles mostly. Nothing fun or creative. Nothing interesting. Industrial foods. How does it work in California?

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi EOS,
      I can’t tell you any more about the Californian system because this was my first time there. We took frozen lasagnas we bought at a supermarket.

      I’m dismayed to hear about the new regulations viz feeding residents in shelters in the State of New York. Some years ago we volunteered at a homeless shelter in Texas, twice a year members of our congregation made the dinner at their homes – just like your family we served a main course, bread, dessert, and beverages – and a few of us served it at the shelter (which housed men women and children), but I don’t know whether they are still being permitted to do the cooking in their own kitchens.

    • Elisa says:

      It’s really important to have sanitation certification. There are many who can become more ill, more quickly than others, this would be especially horrid to happen to a person without a home and resources to correct it. Each and every restaurant or establishment that makes food has to have a certification or permit that states food sources, methods of storage and cooking meets minimum standards of safety. Did you know that some people still think it is ok to allow ground beef to thaw or to sit out on a counter?!?! There was a church here that had mouse infestation in the dank basement room they used for storing food pantry items. No one knew about rotating canned goods, or the botulism that could occur. People were angry when the place was told they had to stop doing that and use food from a central and approved safe location. ‘You’ wouldn’t buy your food from a place with mouse feces or from a deli that didn’t have food safe practices, why should others?

      I’ve had to work here in my town to help organize food drives in a better manner. It does no one any good to get outdated foods or garbage to eat. No matter the ‘good’ intentions of the giver. I think, in this way I am very useful, having lived in both worlds. I like the feeling of fellowship and of service. One large church here, continues this by eating with the others, having conversation and arranging inclusive activites. Quite frequently those without, crave art and music and stimulation just the same. Everyone assumes a person has no life skills, when they are homeless or foodless. This is an untrue stereotype. Some shelters are so restrictive of the client or guest that their helpful programs that are mandatory get in the way of a person who knows how to spend 9 hours out on a bus putting in applications, or doing laundry for job interviews, or going to therapy or AA meetings. I’ve helped some places to shift these restrictions to make them opportunities. To have assessments for clients, that help them to test out of classes or courses that really do not apply. To provide the step up. Self actualization comes after safety needs are met, sometimes a safe warm bed is all that is required. 🙂 Doh, I included some of my thoughts from other comments too!

      • dearrosie says:

        Elisa I really appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences about homeless shelters with us.
        oh my gosh what a shock when the people in the church went to their basement and discovered they’d had unwanted guests eating the food. I didn’t know that food should be rotated – I guess because I don’t need to do it at home. Each place providing food for hungry folks should have at least one knowledgeable person on their staff who knows all these little important details.

        Do you work in a shelter or food bank?
        Its wonderful that you’ve been able to shift some of the restrictions imposed on residents in the shelters. Its so important not to forget that we’re all individuals with different needs and different skills wherever we live or work.

        One of the groups from the Museum went to a Food Bank in Santa Monica and were horrified when they had to throw food away because it was past its “sell by” date. I think I’d also have a hard time throwing food away. Many canned foods still have a shelf-life after their expired date.
        Too many people get salmonella poisoning from ground beef…

      • Elisa says:

        Yes I have worked at several. The thing about the mice. The good folk were NOT having an issue serving out food coming from the closet so infested with mice that you had to step on the feces, thick on the floor. I worked hard to clean it but I had to report it. Gladly, codes agreed with me, they moved the food closet over to the school, into a better closet. They must get their food from a central bank now, one that sorts and keeps the dates. The dates aren’t a small matter, botulism is invisible, so are a variety of other toxins that come from bacteria in outdated food. Dates on canned foods are NOT EVER negotiable.

        I have also helped this particular bank and others to comprehend what it is like to have to use a foodbank and then to need meat, when you haven’t any funds to get it. Or, to get gross veggies that someone else donated because no one would eat them. So, I developed menus that created complete proteins. Menus that actually filled nutrient needs. They glared at me. One lady said, oh these people should be glad for whatever they get, if they weren’t lazy or didn’t buy garbage they’d have food.
        By then, we had been members of this church and the children attended the school and took part in many church functions, but no one really knew that we lived across the street in housing. 🙂

        What a shock to them all for me to tell them how much I had to live on for four people a month. $260. This helped them to change their minds a wee little bit. Those that came began to be able to express smiles and gratitude for the better meals, enabling clients to stretch what they had. The main banks still use my checklists and meal grouping in package picking from the shelves, and the churches collect items from the list. No more wasted donations or food coming that ought to have been in the trash 6 years ago–yes this has happened.

        On what will seem a more positive or cheerier note to many, I also began to do recipe lists to go with the bulk items. I handed out suggested ideas so that a person might shop better and not have to eat the same thing every day. I taught some of the centers to do demonstrations and tastings too. (had to teach ‘staff’ to use one pot and no frills lol)

        I have a dream of having a food bank that is like a store.

  13. What a nice place! Sometimes we get an image in our minds and it is nice to have a new one to hold onto. Thank you for volunteering there. You are fantastic!

    • dearrosie says:

      I was fortunate to see a well-run new shelter, but as it was my first time at a shelter in L.A I’ve got nothing to compare it to. I previously volunteered at a shelter in Texas but we were never given a tour of the place.
      Thanks Renee.

  14. Madhu says:

    We need more places like this here in India. I admire you for volunteering.

  15. munchow says:

    It’s really wonderful that some people and organisations offer help to those who cannot or don’t have the means to support them selves. Organisations such as OPCC and persons such as you, deserve all our respect and admiration of all the rest of us. I wish we all could be as unselfish.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello and greetings Otto,
      What happens in Norway? I’m sure your homeless people are well looked after.

      It was just a morning of my time, I don’t want to take any credit for the work that OPCC does, but thank you. I acknowledge that its not always easy to do something for others on our weekends. (As I work on Sundays, my weekend includes Mondays)

      • munchow says:

        You know in Norway it’s kind of easy. We have a public welfare system that will take care of anyone who needs to be looked after – so the rest of us can go about living our lives in ignorance. Interestingly, though, the last couple of years a lot of foreigners, particularly from former Eastern Europa (and especially from Romania), have entered the street scenes in Norway. They are basically not offered help by the Norwegian welfare system (because you have to be a citizen to qualify), so instead you will find them on the streets begging for money. The thing is that Norwegian don’t know how to deal with it, because suddenly it’s right up in our faces.

      • dearrosie says:

        That is interesting Otto. How long must you live in Norway before you can apply for citizenship? (How can a homeless person prove they’ve been in the country?)

        I can’t imagine how homeless people survive the long, cold winters in Norway – with our mild climate its not such a huge challenge to be homeless in Santa Monica. Do you know whether large numbers of Romanians go to Norway because they aren’t scared of the severe winters – the eastern European winters are equally harsh.

  16. It so wonderful to have places like this. A place that genuinely helps those who are in need to heal and recover. God bless the men and women who everyday shares whatever they have to help others go back on their feet and start all over again. Beautiful post.

    • dearrosie says:

      The people working at the shelter seemed to be genuinely happy to help the residents get back on their feet. It was so encouraging.
      Thank you for your great comment IT. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  17. Rosie, what inspiring place where all those well-meaning theories we all have suddently develop a real, practical edge. Do you know why people are not allowed in their rooms until 7pm?

    • dearrosie says:

      I don’t know why they aren’t allowed in their rooms during the day -perhaps its to prevent the residents from sleeping all day? I’ve been in shelters where they aren’t even allowed in the building during the day.

    • Elisa says:

      The schedule comes from an assumption that a homeless person needs to be taught how to structure one’s day. For some reason the idea that the work ethic didn’t stick and that attempting to instill it, will correct being homeless. This leads back to the theory that if one just worked hard enough, everything would be better. I found once in a shelter a person that worked a night shift job, who couldn’t sleep during the day AND was required to participate in the programs, while holding a 30 hour a week job. He had to choose to leave, because make him choose, they did.

      • dearrosie says:

        So they keep a homeless person away from their rooms during the day because they’re supposed to be filling their days with “productive” work? I can understand that you don’t want people laying in bed all day but I can’t imagine the shelter not making an exception for a person who worked night shift. That’s totally ridiculous!

        Thank you for joining the conversations Elisa. I really appreciate it.

  18. Arindam says:

    These people are doing great job with such a wonderfully thought out and planned project. I am sure this nine months stay is going to prove as turning points of all those people who come to there for shelter.
    I wish that pond in your museum always fills up with coins thrown by thousands of people.

    • dearrosie says:

      Not to worry about the people throwing money in the pond. Although there aren’t any signs about making a wish or please throw in your money, the tourists always throw in their change. 😀 I serve people every day who tell me they don’t have any change because they threw it in the water.

      To house a person for one or two weeks is not going to change anything.

  19. shoreacres says:

    I like the structures in place with this program. Not being allowed to be in personal rooms during the day is critical in beginning to set new habits for work. Even if people in a shelter “only” are emptying dishwashers, going to classes, sweeping floors, etc., it’s helping them get back in a frame of mind those of us who “go to work” take for granted.

    We’re having problems with feeding the homeless here in Houston, too. The mayor and many of her compadres passed a law making it illegal for private citizens to feed the homeless apart from sanctioned places. A homeless veteran was arrested last week, or the week before, for looking for food in a dumpster.

    I’m not against the government helping out, but around here they’re trying to run off the charities, mostly faith-based groups. It makes me so angry. By the time people who want to help fill out the forms, get the variances, readjust to meet the government’s criteria, and so on and so forth – many of them just throw up their hands in disgust. Even restaurants and grocers who used to donate food to shelters no longer are allowed to do so. It’s pure idiocy.

    • dearrosie says:

      I assumed that residents of shelters weren’t allowed in their rooms during the day to prevent them from laying in bed all day. After spending nine months doing necessary chores like sweeping floors, or washing the dishes, the residents should find it easy to live in their own homes.

      What does the homeless veteran learn if he’s arrested for looking for food in a dumpster? After he comes out of jail he’ll get hungry and go look for food in dumpsters.

      Its totally crazy if the restaurants and grocers aren’t permitted to donate food to the shelters!
      Thanks for your great comment Linda.

  20. nrhatch says:

    Clean. Bright. Good Food. Definitely a step in the right direction.

  21. Doris says:

    yesterday I saw a movie called “three seasons” it was about three person that lived simple…some did not have a home. And, today I come around your blog and you post this post. I am glad there are places like this in the world and what a great project, good for all of you. Sometimes we take for granted all the wonderful things we have, have a great day Rosie!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Doris,
      I haven’t heard of that movie. I’ll look out for it. Is it a new release?
      I’m so grateful that the shelter I volunteered at was run so well. Its so encouraging to know that places like this are quietly going about the business of helping the street dwellers who are the invisible members of our society.
      Thanks for your great comment Doris.

  22. I have often wondered what happens to the money tossed into public ponds and fountains – hopefully other museums put these funds to good use, too. Turning Point sounds like an excellent sanctuary and program for helping people to get back on their feet – it must have been interesting serving lunch to the residents there. So many of us are just one catastrophic illness or job layoff away from being homeless ourselves…

    • dearrosie says:

      I also hope that other museums put their funds to good use. I joined the Community Service Team at the Museum after 9-11 and was part of the decision of where to donate the money.
      Turning Point does sound as though it is a well run program that helps people get back on their feet. As you say we are all just one catastrophic illness or job layoff away from being homeless ourselves… The sad part is that people who end up in shelters don’t have friends or family they can live with.

  23. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Rosie, OPCC seems quiet wonderful to me and the way that every community can help the homeless get off the streets and be safe again. Its philosophy makes so much sense to me. Thanks for the link. Peace.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Dee,
      OPCC is doing a wonderful job helping the homeless people in our community get off the streets and make the first steps to making a new life for themselves.

  24. Dinah says:

    Well done, Rosie. And what a great response!! I hope it results in a lot of contributions, in both time and money, to this terrific organization that does so much for so many — not just at one but several shelters and programs all over the city of Santa Monica. xxxooo

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank you Dinah. I hope that everyone who reads this post will know something more about food banks and homeless shelters and even if they don’t volunteer, perhaps they’ll donate money this year.
      I don’t have many readers from the L.A region – my blogging buddies live all over the world, but homelessness is a world-wide problem.

  25. aFrankAngle says:

    Wonderful promo of a worthy place!

  26. souldipper says:

    What a great way to give working people a chance to give to community.

  27. Amy says:

    3 meals for the homeless. Wonderful community. Thank you for the heartwarming story!

  28. Robin says:

    Thank you for the tour. It looks and sounds like a wonderful place. I’m glad to know those pennies go to such a worthwhile cause. 🙂

    • dearrosie says:

      I’m pleased you were able to catch this post Robin. I feel fortunate that I was able to volunteer at such a well run place like “Turning Point”.

      I didn’t mention that money that sits in water for a while can become rather nasty to handle. They have to clean it with special stuff before they can count it.

  29. bronxboy55 says:

    There must be many more than fifty-five homeless people in the area. What do they have to do to get accepted? And once they leave, can they come back? What a relief it must be after living on the streets.

    • dearrosie says:

      You ask good questions but I can’t answer all your questions Charles. OPCC has quite a few shelters under its wing i.e. “Sojourn” is the place for battered women. The location of the shelter/s is kept secret to help the women feel safe so members of the public don’t volunteer there…

      We were told that if someone is homeless and needs to see a doctor or even get a token for bus fare there is a place they can go to.

      I would hope that a social worker keeps in touch with the residents after they leave the shelter just to see how they’re doing, but I don’t know.

  30. Pingback: The Poetry of Turning Point: An Anthology of Work, Part II – The WVoice

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