The Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition

The Greater West Hollywood Food Coalition

Nonprofit

Having been called into being as volunteers by the City of West Hollywood in 1987, we suffered the awful realization just two years later that West Hollywood, as a political entity, wasn't ready to defend a group that was helping the homeless. We were accused of perpetuating homelessness, encouraging criminal behavior, despoiling the neighborhood, and destroying property values -- all this for serving hungry people … Read More Having been called into being as volunteers by the City of West Hollywood in 1987, we suffered the awful realization just two years later that West Hollywood, as a political entity, wasn't ready to defend a group that was helping the homeless. We were accused of perpetuating homelessness, encouraging criminal behavior, despoiling the neighborhood, and destroying property values -- all this for serving hungry people something to eat once a day -- and we were effectively run out of town and into Hollywood, suddenly an orphan group of volunteers but with a reputation in the media for having fought city hall and survived. From that point forward we have only gotten braver, because little by little we came to know that there were a lot of people like us in the community who wanted to do something "good" but didn't know where to begin. We have since fought any number of running battles just to keep going -- against neighbors and neighbors' groups, against politicians and other "social service agencies," and, just two years ago against a company which sued us for creating "a public and a private nuisance." When that happened we were defended pro bono for eight months by a partner and four associates of one of the largest law firms in town, and at the end of it the judge in the case threw it out with prejuidice. We are now stronger and more effective than we have ever been, and we continue to grow stronger still. We serve an ever-better meal, to between 150 and 200 people every night. We have two or three new volunteers coming to us every day, and our ability to network in the community at large is nothing short of extraordinary. As far as we know, no other ragtag grass-roots organization formed to help the homeless has lasted as long as we have and attracted so much support. And yet we are still at the takeoff point, in that every new volunteer who means it has a new idea as to how we can reach deeper into the community and how we can avail ourselves of its strength to do more for the weakest among us.

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