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10th “Celebrating Success” Breakfast is Sept. 23:

One of Santa Monica’s most inspiring community events, the Westside Shelter and Hunger Coalition’s annual “Celebrating Success” breakfast and awards ceremony, returns next week for its tenth year.

An “awareness-raiser” rather than a fundraiser, “Celebrating Success: From Homelessness to Self Sufficiency& Healthy Lives” honors 25 previously homeless individuals who have made extraordinary changes in their lives in the categories of Education, Employment, Overcoming Multiple Barriers, Giving Back and Determination. Actress and philanthropist Wendie Malick will emcee the ceremony.

The Westside Shelter and Hunger Coalition (WSHC) is a group of over thirty area social service providers, faith congregations and supporting organizations committed to ending homelessness through service coordination, public education and advocacy.

Coalition member agencies include The Clare Foundation, OPCC, St. Joseph Center, Step-Up on Second, Chrysalis, Upward Bound House, Westside Center for Independent Living, to name just a few.

Each honoree is nominated by one of the Coalition agencies, though most honorees will tell you that they worked with employees of several social service providers during their journeys out of homelessness – making every honoree the pride of the entire Coalition.

WSHC member agencies have worked together with one another and with other government, community and faith-based groups, for over 20 years to provide a “continuum of care” for homeless and low income individuals and families.

The Coalition has built an infrastructure that serves the needs of homeless people with specific issues to address; including veterans, battered women, families and individuals with mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction or AIDS.

For the tenth anniversary of the Celebrating Success breakfast, a special effort has been made to contact all of the previous award winners from the first nine years. According to Event Coordinator Donna Gentry, most of the past honorees were invited (many have stayed in contact over the decade) and more than 50 of them will attend the event.

A previous honoree will introduce each award category during the ceremony, and the alumni, as the Coalition has dubbed to past awardees, will be attend a private coffee klatch for honorees only to offer advice to new winners. Says Gentry, “It’s so great to hear what they’ve been doing with their lives since we saw them last. The jobs they have, the volunteering they do in their neighborhoods. … I think it’ll be an inspiration to everyone.”

Recognizing the generosity of the community, WSHC will also honor seven organizations and businesses that have “gone beyond the call of duty” for the Coalition, its member agencies and their clients. The City of Santa Monica will be given the Partnership Award for what the Coalition calls “its leadership to end homelessness.”

Benefactor for the Success Breakfast is Saint John’s Health Center, and event patrons are the Richard F. and Eleanor W. Dwyer Fund; Kehillat Israel, the Parish of St. Matthew and St. Monica Parish Community.

“Celebrating Success: From Homelessness to Self-Sufficiency and Healthy Lives” Tenth Annual Breakfast and Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday, September 23. Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m., the awards program starts at 8 a.m., and the event will conclude by 9:30 a.m.For the first time, the breakfast will be held outdoors, at Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Avenue. Tickets are $30 per person, or $300 for a table of 10. Seats are limited; reservations are recommended. If available on the day of the event, tickets will be sold at the door for $40. For more information, or to reserve tickets, call WSHC at (310) 314-0071 or visit success@westsideshelter.org.

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