Penny Lane was one of the first agencies to offer housing to Transition Age Youth in Los Angeles County almost 30 years ago. With the creation of our sister agency Abbey Road, Penny Lane began developing permanent housing projects for homeless/low-income individuals and families while Penny Lane provided services to the residents of these buildings. Today in 2022 Abbey Road has about 185 units in two buildings actively under construction which will add to the 400+ residents Penny Lane provides services to every day.
Many of the services are done with the help of community partners and volunteers including our friend Kathy Huck who for the past 4 years has headed up a group that came to Penny Lane and on site served home cooked Thanksgiving to our youth and families. In 2019, this hot meal was an in-person event in the week prior to Thanksgiving where Kathy and her friends as well as our staff would serve food, provide music and entertainment, and even distribute some goodies when available. During 2020 and 2021 they continued to provide the homecooked meals which staff portioned into containers and delivered to the buildings so that even in the pandemic people could steal feel the love of a warm home cooked meal. This year Kathy has partnered with some new friends, some old friends, and staff to coordinate and provide the meals again in person to over 250 clients on November 17th. Our beloved staff member Edwin Olmedo has been working with Kathy for some time now and he caught up with her to ask her a few questions which frankly made us appreciate her even more.
What drew you to and led you to donate your time, energy, and good food to our agency? “I was a member of the Kiwanis Club in Chatsworth, and one of my projects was to create something for the community where families and children could benefit. Since I work with people who experience homelessness, and the purpose of Kiwanis is to help children, I thought it would be a perfect way to work with the families and youth of Penny Lane Centers. The mere fact that you help youth drew me to you. It warms my heart knowing that Penny Lane cares for homeless youth. It sounds cliché to say, but they (youth) are the future, Penny Lane Is taking care of our future.”
Why does Penny Lane matter to you? Especially now in particular? “I am a mother, grandmother, and I care about children. Your clientele deserves a chance, they’re just starting out. It matters right now because we are facing many issues deep in our community and throughout the world. It’s obvious that we all had to deal with issues with COVID. I believe that our homeless population is now deeply traumatized. Can you imagine having nobody to turn to when the world was upside down? Penny Lane was there for a lot of these people, it matters. I think the youth and families you serve need empathy and need to empathize with others. They need to take their traumatic experiences and find a way to translate that information to help other young people and families. Our youth have a deeper understanding of trials and tribulations in the world at this young age. Their understanding of social justice can empower them to be leaders. My hope is that they find good causes to participate in or develop some ‘THING’ that change the world.”
Kathy what are you passionate about? “My passion is advocacy, hands on tangible advocacy for unhoused people. We’re living in a time where many walk past and step over homeless. It has become normal; it shouldn’t be normal. I advocate so that it isn’t considered normal. I am searching for real answers and solutions to ending homelessness.” That strikes a chord with us at Penny Lane Centers as we too working with Abbey Road, Community Partners and YOU are looking for solutions as well.
In a few short weeks there will be many full bellies and happy faces because of the time and commitment of Kathy Huck, Kiwanis Chatsworth, Tania Centeno and Congregation Or Ami. Thanksgiving is about gratitude, and we are full of gratitude for all our donors, volunteers, supporters and most especially for Kathy and her crew. Kathy says “Penny Lane really needs to push. You need to find a way to make sure everyone knows exactly what you’re doing.” This is us pushing because we could use a few more Kathy Huck’s who partner with Penny Lane Centers to literally transform lives.
-Edwin Olmedo, Penny Lane Centers