St. Joseph Center celebrated 39 years of service to the community at its annual Voices of Hope gala, held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on May 16. Thanks to support from a dedicated community of patrons, including 400 attendees Saturday night, the event broke all previous records and raised more than $560,000 to support the Center’s programs for low-income and homeless men, women and children.

This year’s “Founders Award for Community Service” recipient was actor Martin Sheen, who was a regular volunteer at St. Joseph Center’s innovative Bread and Roses Caf√© in its early years and has supported St. Joseph Center’s mission and work faithfully for well over two decades. Sheen, who is perhaps equally famous for lending an inspired voice to a range of peace and social justice issues, exhorted guests in his acceptance speech to make a difference the lives of others and “find something worth fighting for.”

The Center’s “Hope Through Empowerment” Award was presented this year to longtime St. Joseph Center supporters and prominent entertainment business management firm NKSFB, LLC. Managing Partner Mickey Segal and Partner Michael Karlin accepted the award on the firm’s behalf. In their remarks, Segal and Karlin noted that since its founding more than three decades ago NKSFB, LLC has always maintained a strong sense of corporate responsibility and has acted on the belief that social outreach is imperative to the company’s extended purpose.

The evening also cast a spotlight on individuals who have rebuilt their lives with St. Joseph Center’s help. The event’s titular “Voice of Hope” Award went to formerly homeless St. Joseph Center clients Johnny Espinoza and Joann Allen, who struggled with homelessness for a combined 22 years and fell in love while living on the street and overcame the challenges of homelessness together.

The emcee for the record-setting gala was Ramon Estevez, son of Martin Sheen and a longtime supporter of St. Joseph Center in his own right.

Speaking after the event, St. Joseph Center’s Executive Director Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum praised the honorees and their dedication noting, “We could not fulfill our mission without support from a broad spectrum of community members who share our commitment to empowering people in need to create change in their own lives. Martin Sheen and everyone at NKSFB, LLC understand that important it is to build coalitions that embrace the entire community to come up with solutions for issues of poverty and homeless that impact us all.”

St. Joseph Center’s Voices of Hope gala is a critical source of support for the agency’s comprehensive and integrated programs, which provide services such as job training, case management, housing assistance, supplementary groceries, life skills classes and hot meals for 6,000 working poor and homeless families and individuals to help them achieve greater health, stability and self-sufficiency.

St. Joseph Center is a Venice-based independent, non-profit 501 (c)(3), community-based organization whose mission is “to provide working poor families, as well as homeless men, women, and children of all ages, with the inner resources and tools to become productive, stable and self-supporting members of the community.” The Center does not provide religious services or instruction and assists people regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof. It creates an environment that develops self-reliance and promotes action in people capable of becoming productive members of the community. The Center serves more than 6,000 individuals annually through a variety of integrated programs. To learn more about St. Joseph Center’s comprehensive services, visit www.stjosephctr.org.

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