At the heart of the Holy Name of Jesus in Los Angeles lies a modest yet impactful initiative—the Mini Kitchen. This unassuming kitchen, tucked away in a double car garage, has been a beacon of hope for the lower to middle-class community it serves. We had the privilege of speaking with Brenda Morton, a dedicated member of the board at St. Vincent de Paul Los Angeles (SVDPLA), who shared her inspiring journey and shed light on the Mini Kitchen’s vital role in the community.
A Lifelong Commitment
Brenda’s connection to the Holy Name of Jesus, runs deep, having been a part of the parish her entire life. Upon retirement, she sought ways to stay active and contribute to her community. Given her routine of attending church mass, joining the Mini Kitchen seemed like a natural fit. The Mini Kitchen operates five days a week, with different groups ensuring a steady supply of meals for individuals in need.
A Kitchen with a Purpose
The Mini Kitchen operates out of a garage behind the church, symbolizing the grassroots origins of this initiative. Originally established in the 80s to address the needs of the community, the Mini Kitchen has undergone recent renovations, thanks to the generosity of parishioners and local supporters. Today, it boasts donated kitchen equipment, cabinets, a new faucet, a commercial double sink, freezers, and refrigerators, allowing the tools for this kitchen to function as it need.
Nourishing the Community
The community served by the Mini Kitchen is not affluent, but it is rich in dedication and compassion. The kitchen receives food donations from various sources, including deacons, neighboring parishes, and local businesses. The menu varies based on availability, with a focus on hearty and balanced meals—pasta with sauce, chicken, and sometimes special treats like burgers and hot dogs from local restaurants. Each meal is complemented by a bag containing water, juice, and a dessert item, ensuring that recipients not only have a meal but also some essentials for later.
Beyond Meals: Providing Essentials and Support
The Mini Kitchen goes beyond just serving meals. Brenda and her team distribute groceries, including fruits, vegetables, and bread. This additional support, provided mainly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, ensures that the community receives both immediate and long-term assistance. The Mini Kitchen has become a consistent source of nourishment, with the number of visitors increasing, reaching 60-70 people on Wednesdays.
A Labor of Love
In Brenda’s words, being part of the Mini Kitchen is about doing “something that God wants us to do.” It’s about extending a helping hand to fellow human beings and embodying the spirit of gratitude. Brenda emphasizes that the appreciation expressed by those they serve is heartwarming, reinforcing the impact they are making. She sees her commitment to the Mini Kitchen as a way of reciprocating the goodness and love she has experienced in her own life.
The Support of St. Vincent de Paul Los Angeles
While the parish itself doesn’t directly support the Mini Kitchen, parishioners contribute through donations and volunteering. The vital support comes from St. Vincent de Paul Los Angeles, providing monetary grants to purchase necessary items and equipment, ensuring the Mini Kitchen can continue its mission.
How You Can Help
The Mini Kitchen welcomes support in various forms. Donations, whether in the form of food items or financial contributions, are always appreciated. Local businesses and individuals looking to make a positive impact are encouraged to get involved and welcomed with open arms. Volunteering in the kitchen is another way to contribute. And for those who believe in the power of prayer, the Mini Kitchen also welcomes that kind of support.
The Mini Kitchen at the Holy Name of Jesus stands as a testament to the enduring power of community and compassion. Through the dedicated efforts of individuals like Brenda and the support of organizations like St. Vincent de Paul Los Angeles, it continues to be a lifeline for those in need. As we celebrate its role in nourishing both body and spirit, let us be inspired to extend our own helping hands and make a positive impact in the lives of others.