Nearly 500 attendees came together to celebrate and support the great work of St. Joseph Center (SJC) on Saturday, May 18 at the annual Voices of Hope Gala. The event raised $681,000 for SJC, a leading 501(c)3 non-profit that provides social services for individuals in need and those experiencing homelessness. Time Magazine Co-Person of the Year and Award-Winning Journalist Dr. Wendy Walsh hosted the evening with gratitude and compassion. As a Venice local, she was introduced to SJC through a ride-along experience with one of the organization’s street outreach teams. Having seen first-hand what the organization does every-day, she brought the motto of “Hope Through Empowerment” to light for the audience. Fellow community leader Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson of St. Monica’s Catholic Church opened the evening with a heart-felt invocation, followed by a welcome from Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin.

“We need your help. We have landed men on the moon, so we can end homelessness in LA – with help from organizations like St. Joseph Center,” Bonin said.

This year’s “Hope Through Empowerment” Award was presented to St. Monica School President, UCLA Anderson Professor, and longtime St. Joseph Center Board Chairman Kevin McCardle. As a dedicated educator and community advocate, McCardle has been a vocal leader for SJC for the last decade – watching the agency grow from 100 to 350 staff members. McCardle actively volunteers and leads with gracious dignity.

“Where would St. Joseph Center be without you, we’d be nowhere near as well off as we are,” Torgerson said of McCardle. “You are absolutely the right person at this time to receive this honor.”

McCardle said what makes St. Joseph Center unique is the “lived out charism of the (staff) – the caring for their neighbors with no judgement.” He also mentioned one of the things that keeps him inspired is “the privilege of working with CEO Va Lecia Adams Kellum.” As he accepted his award, he thanked the team that makes St. Joseph Center unique – the volunteers, the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet who founded the organization in 1976, the network of supporters, family and friends of clients, and staff.

“Kevin has a way of making us all feel special, loved, heard, and seen,” said Va Lecia Adams Kellum, the CEO and President of SJC.

Before ending the evening, former client and Codetalk graduate Alana was honored for her success and perseverance in overcoming adversity. Working for Sony’s QA department as a technical business analyst, Alana was recently housed after completing St. Joseph Center’s Codetalk program which teaches women coding skills for jobs in the tech industry.

“What was remarkable about Alana is not that she lost her fear, it’s that she moved forward in spite of it. She is an inspiration and profound proof that we must continue to uplift the many others out there like her,” said Sharon Plunkett, Director of Programs. Proudly, this annual event provides necessary funds to uplift others like Alana. The agency’s wrap-around service approach empowers others by meeting them where they are at – from outreach and engagement, housing assistance, mental health services, and job training programs. The funds raised this year will help serve over 10,000 working-poor and homeless families and individuals in the upcoming year.

To learn more about St. Joseph Center’s comprehensive services, visit www.stjosephctr.org.

Submitted by Karalee Ensign, Event & Communications Manager

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