I believe that nutrition and exercise are key ingredients to living a happy and fulfilled life. In my books I talk about a PC combo – the optimal combination of Protein and Carbohydrates to maintain a healthy, active life. I’d like to add an addendum to that. For a completely fulfilled life I think what you need is what I refer to as a PC FP combo: Protein, Carbohydrates, Faith and Philanthropy.
Many years ago I was in a dark place in my life. I needed guidance, acceptance and unconditional love. I found that at the Angelus Temple. Pastor Matthew and Pastor Caroline are two of the most loving people you could ever meet, and I was welcomed into the congregation with the unconditional acceptance I had been seeking my whole life. I met friends for life there. I also found my passion for volunteerism.
I believe that for a church to truly be of service to those in need, it must be accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week – life doesn’t wait until Sunday morning to throw it’s challenges at you. Pastors Matthew and Caroline understood the need to be of service to people of all walks of life at any time of the day,any day of the week.
To address that need they created the Dream Center – A 15 floor, multiple building Center in the heart of Los Angeles. I could go on forever about the founding of the Dream Center but they tell their story, I tell mine. Click here to read the full story. Have a tissue handy.
I’ve been of service to the Dream Center for over 21 years. Because it’s such a diversified place, there is something for everybody. They devote each floor in the main building to a specific social cause: homelessness, poverty, alcohol and drug rehab, and off site they have a human trafficking rescue and rehab. The brilliance of it is that, as we all know, these issues crosscut with each other: poverty and homelessness sow the seeds of trafficking, substance abuse leads to poverty and homelessness and on and on. The Dream Center is equipped to handle the direst of situations: They have a human trafficking rescue team, the shelter can then provide a home for the girl. When she’s ready she’ll attend a high school on campus, work with counselors, train for skills – reclaim her life. All in the safety and familiarity of the same place. It’s an amazing achievement of the Dream Center to be able to have so many resources available for the people they serve.
In the past couple of years I have begun to focus my efforts at the Dream center. Through our family foundation, JDFF, I have been able to help the Dream center’s human trafficking rescue nonprofit Project Hope. I’m now able to give back what I’ve been given –
unconditional love and support. I wouldn’t be whereI am todaywithout my faith, and I thank God everyday that Angelus Temple and the Dream Center were revealed to me.
Recently I have learned through my work with Project Hope that children who age out of the foster system without being adopted are one of the most at risk demographics to be trafficked into sex slavery. Project Hope is now working on a foster program to provide a safe haven for kids who age out without being adopted. This is just one of the new programs the Dream Center is working on to better serve the people of Los Angeles, and just one of the many reasons I’m proud to support the Dream Center.
Here are highlights from some of my favorite events at the LA Dream Center:
Every year I am honored to be able to sponsor a very special Valentine’s Day for a group of amazing girls from The Dream Center’s alcohol and drug rehab program and human trafficking rescue. We get them haircuts and other beauty services. In 2015 we gave them each a goodie bag of beauty treatment and all kinds of other amazing gifts. We also prayed over them and gave them a rose and told him how special they are!!
Each year I host the ladies lunch that supports the foster care prevention program at the dream Center here’s a photo from one of the years. Pastor Caroline Barnett is standing to the right of me.
JDFF is honored to sponsor the yearly event and it is always such a pleasure to be with such incredible women who are helping change the lives of The Dream Center’s Transitional Housing for Homeless Families Program residents. They are truly making a difference in people’s lives!
Here I am building IKEA beds for the Dream Center foster care intervention program.
This is where we bring beds, dining tables, couches, and other furniture to families in need. These families are at risk for losing their children to foster care due to lack of basic necessities. The Dream Center then supplies those necessities and the families can stay together. Mental note: I do not like building IKEA beds definitely not my gift. But we do what we need to do! =)
This is a photo of me on an out reach in Ladera Heights, Los Angeles. The dream Center goes out to these locations every week and brings blankets, diapers, toiletries, coloring books, and various items for local families. We also check on the status of the elderly in these neighborhoods to make sure they’re OK. On this outing we discovered one of the homes was being flooded while the older woman was at her dialysis appointment.
We were able to call and get someone to come quickly to deal with the flooding and fix the burst pipe in her kitchen.
Also, we had an incredible time teaching the kids a hip-hop dance lesson. I just love the Dream Center so much because it gets involved with the community. That is truly the work of our Lord and Savior reaching out to those in need, especially the widows and the children.
One of my favorite times of the year is Easter and the Dream Center does a great job reaching out to the children in the community. The first picture below is a few years ago when we did a beautiful Easter egg coloring party for all of the kids in the community, as well as an outdoor fair. There were so many wonderful things set up that year that I can’t keep track of everything we did!
This year, I had the amazing opportunity to prepare 1,000 Easter Baskets with the LA Dream Center and Planet Hope Organization. The idea for the Easter baskets this year was from my dear friend Kelly Stone of Planet Hope. The Dream Center was so blessed to partner with her and the Planet Hope team. It was such a beautiful blessing to see this amazing love for children and community and all the people who came together to see this vision a reality.
During the Christmas season, The Dream Center also gets involved in the community by giving gifts to families in need. My favorite year was when Jonathon and I were able to give bicycles out to children in the LA Area. We feel incredibly blessed to have the things we do, and love to share that with others. I am so honored I was able to be a part of this and all the events we’ve sponsored or been able to participate and partner with the Dream Center. We love this organization – they make such an impact on the community, seeing needs reaching out. What an incredible gift to be able to give back to the community of Los Angeles.
If you want to learn more about the Dream Center and how they are influencing the Los Angeles area, visit their website here.