A young woman, identified as a minor, stole food from a store because she was hungry. When the police officers asked why she did it, she said her mother had recently lost her job and they were homeless. It was survival mode for her and her family.
Alhambra Police Department members, the Knights of Columbus and others pitched in to help this family out in March. The mother has since found a new job, but the organizing continued as stories like these kept floating into the city’s periphery about food security and homelessness.
The first “Dine Alhambra” weeklong fundraiser, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7, began in development soon after so the city could assist in funding instead of having police officers reach into their pockets, Sergeant Jerry Johnson said. The event is a partnership with local restaurants, service organizations and emergency first responders.
By showing the event flyer, 20% of the customer's bill from participating restaurants will go toward the Alhambra Emergency First Responders Fund, which was set up to provide individuals and families in need of immediate financial assistance that come into contact with police officers and firefighters.
One of the organizers, Paolo Kespradit, said that the Downtown Business Association and Alhambra Chamber of Commerce collaborated with the Alhambra Community Coordinating Council, a coalition of nonprofit organizations, to raise money such that each service organization was paired with a participating restaurant and asked to advertise to their members.
Twohey’s and Jasmine House are participating all day and all week, unlike most restaurants who decided to pick a day and meal period. “We wanted to provide people within the group to have an open schedule to stop by if they couldn’t make it at a certain day and time,” said Jennifer Disotell, catering manager at Twohey’s. “It’s always good to get the community through the doors.”
Kespradit said that the fund will be used assist folks to become financially stable and connect them to long-term resources.
But there are no current homeless shelters in Alhambra, and the closest ones are in Pasadena, according to this homeless shelter directory. An attempt in 2012 by the First Baptist Church to provide temporary housing for homeless families was denied by city officials because the church was not within the area that is designated for homeless shelters.
Alhambra’s police and fire personnel will be present throughout the “Dine Alhambra” week. Sergeant Johnson hopes it will be an opportunity to foster community trust between his department and residents.
“Most of the time when people see the police, it’s not a pleasant time in a person’s life. But for something like this, they aren’t going through a stressful time,” Johnson said.
The full schedule for “Dine Alhambra” can be found here.
(Featured photo above by liloh is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)