Updated: Apr 7, 2022
Christian Outreach in Action Newsletter REFLECTIONS from the Executive Director COA has experienced a time like no other in our history. We moved all of our hot meals, food bank, and clothing distribution from inside our building to outside. We saw a great need among our homeless and low-income families for increased programs than we ever provided before. Through it all, we were grateful to be here in this time of need and able to meet the needs of people desperate for our services. So many people found themselves in front of our building for the first time asking for help. Our small staff was stretched, but we were able to take care of everyone who needed us. Thanks to our generous donors from churches, foundations, individuals, and local community groups who gave their hearts, minds, souls, and funds. COA had enough to feed, cloth, and assist all of the families who came to us needing help. Our donors and volunteers are our daily inspiration-we know that good people are there for us. We say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are grateful for your encouragement, support, and help. Sincerely, Dixie L. Dohrmann
Dixie Dohrmann Executive Director
Willie: Yesterday and Today Willie started his life in the “Windy City” born into a middle-class family. His life changed
when he was a teen, when his parents separated. That is when his difficulties in school began. Willie had a learning disability and did not graduate from high school. When his mother, a nurse, passed away, not only did he become involved with drugs, but his siblings eventually all went their separate ways. Willie ultimately became homeless. And so, a cycle of homelessness and drugs had begun. Willie married and became a father to two girls. Due to drinking and drugs, he left Chicago in 1991 and came to California to live with an aunt. Although he received Social Security due to his disability, he found it necessary to commit petty theft in order to eat and pay his way. Finally, he entered the criminal justice system. A skill he learned in prison was landscaping, which he still loves. When he got out of prison, he avoided his old friends and associates and went into reentry housing. However, he found the conditions at the home unbearable, and again, he became homeless. In 1994, Willie came to COA for hot meals and was soon hired to work in the dining room, unload trucks, and do janitorial tasks. He also began working at the Queen Mary as a parking attendant. COA located housing for him, but after being homeless and in prison for so many years, it was difficult for him to be around groups of people. When the Queen Mary learned he had been in prison, they let him go. He again lost his housing. Finally, Willie became employed at a Church and started speaking to community groups such as lawyers and police officers letting them know what it is like to reenter society after serving time. He now has his own single apartment. His message is, “We all do the "best" we can to serve Jesus.”
The Blessing of the Freezer In late 2021 COA received a freezer thanks to the Long Beach Mayor’s Fund to End
Homelessness. It is designed to provide small grants to organizations in Long Beach that address significant service delivery needs that are not covered by existing funding and are not considered emergency needs. This fund is financed by donations from residents, businesses, and community organizations, with most funding coming from an annual campaign. Money must be used to benefit people experiencing homelessness in Long Beach. To the staff at COA who run the kitchen and distribute food to our clients this freezer is a miracle and a blessing. Compared to the previous freezer, it allows staff to actually be able to move around comfortably and allows for better organization. Because they are able to store food in crates on shelves vs. on the floor and stacked, the staff can at a glance, quickly locate just what they need and easily access it. Scott commented that it was “like having a grocery store” because he was able to create a seafood department, poultry department, and so on. Due to the size of the freezer, which Scott calls HUGE, COA was able to add another day to food distribution. Because of the size of the freezer COA is able to store 8 times as much food. It is estimated that COA feeds 650-1000 people a week and this large number is made possible by the efficiency that the freezer brings to the operation. During the latest hot spell COA was able to give away ice cream for 2 weeks…. This could never have happened before. The Executive Director, Dixie Dohrmann, volunteers, and staff of COA are extremely grateful to the Mayor’s Fund for this amazing addition that enhances the services offered to those we serve.
Another Successful Year of COA Holiday Events The Holidays are without any doubt COA’s busiest time of the year and 2021 was no exception. The generosity of our volunteers and donors was impressive again this year Beginning November 1, orders for our Thanksgiving meal and food bag programs quickly filled up. During the week of Thanksgiving, COA provided Thanksgiving meals and food bags including a turkey with all the fixings to over 450 families; 325 blessing bags with groceries, including food that can be cooked for low-income families, and food that does not have to be cooked for homeless individuals; and 250 hot Thanksgiving meals served to homeless individuals in to-go containers. COA was able to provide these wonderful meals and groceries thanks to the generosity of long-time donor Phil Bosl, and Supervisor Janice Hahn.
Pizza Party Brings Donors to COA Cause
COA was blessed this season with a new volunteer and supporter, Dave Kerlin. Dave immediately showed his support of COA and hosted a pizza party at Magic Mike’s Pizza in Westminster on December 8, 2021. The purpose of the event was to collect clothing, warm coats, blankets, sweaters, and children’s clothes. All 75 attendees brought a bag of clothing, toys, or blankets and almost filled COA’s truck. We so appreciate Dave’s efforts and thank all of his donors for making this Holiday memorable for so many people in need.
A Little Dirt Can’t Hurt
In November Clark & Atherton Mercantile (CAM) held a Holiday Open House & Garden Party hosted by the Long Beach City College Horticulture Department Hope you didn’t miss it! Fun workshops like pumpkin painting, succulent arrangement, holiday wreath demo, Bonsai demo, and creating a succulent garden in a pumpkin were enjoyed by those in attendance. This event was sponsored by the Long Beach City College Horticulture Department and hosted by Jorge Ochoa, Instructor of Horticulture at LBCC. Mr. Ochoa offered information on growing these plants and creating environments in which they can thrive. Susy DeLucca, CAM Store Manager, says “It was a great day, with hourly giveaways, a raffle for a beautiful mosaic pot and plant, snacks, and garden workshops …. Lots of sales and smiles.” The LBCC Horticulture program provides students with the training and practical experience for an entry-level position as well as continuing education for those working in the horticulture industry. For some time CAM has sold awesome succulent gardens created by Volunteer Jane Combs and made from thrifted containers. Now the store has raised that modest patch to a flourishing “garden and plant branch.” The term horticulture literally means the culture of a garden and it has become the vision of Susy is to cultivate more of these types of events…… a little dirt can’t hurt, right?
Bright and Shining Christmas Stars
For nine years, COA’s Elf Committee, chaired by “Chief Elf in Charge” Lisa Hoffmaster, has busily prepared goodie bags and toys donated by local churches, community groups, and generous individuals, including a “Secret Santa.” Lisa describes their work as a “well-honed elf machine. Every elf does their job and puts 100% of their effort into creating a special holiday event.” Because COA remained closed to the public at Christmas time, the annual in-person Christmas Party with families, children, and volunteers had to be restructured. Families applied online beginning November 1 to have Christmas baskets delivered directly to them. Over a week, 297 families with 862 children in need of a little help during the holidays received holiday gift baskets delivered by a group of elves. Imagine the joy of having elves at your door giving you a holiday gift basket full of personalized gifts and toys which might be the only gifts you receive during the Christmas season! The special donors who gave to the Christmas Elves campaign were Supervisor Janice Hahn, St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, and St. Bartholomew’s Council of Catholic Women, Presbytery of Los Ranchos - Mission Partnership, local Boy and Girl Scouts Troops, Lori Barber, J.B. Harris and Salesforce. Thank you to these groups for putting smiles on many children's’ faces.
SPOTLIGHT on COA Volunteers
Maria has been faithfully volunteering at Clark & Atherton Mercantile since it opened in 2016. She is a mother of 5, grandmother of 3, and great-grandmother to 1 (and another coming in April). One of her three daughters is also on the volunteer team. Maria believes if you are healthy and available, you should be doing something for others. She teams up with Rebecca to price clothing and get it ready to put out for sale. Rebecca is our resident fashionista, having been at Nordstrom’s for 28 years, the majority of those years as a personal stylist. She brings her knowledge of fashion, brands, and designers to us, ensuring great selections and prices on clothing, handbags, and shoes.
Chili and Cornbread Anyone?
The Cornerstone Church outreach team has faithfully served at COA since 2008. Each month guests have enjoyed a homemade chili and cornbread dinner. The chili and cornbread recipes have “matured” over the years thanks to the input of faithful team members who have offered comments ranging from “too spicy” to “not spicy enough.” The team settled on a “mild kick” and occasionally observe a guest with their own bottle of hot sauce. The nourishment of the Good News followed by a hot and hearty dinner is served with love. Is anyone ready to fix chili for 150-200 people?
Ingredients for 4 pots
· 40 lbs. ground beef
· 4 cans (6.5 lbs.) of pinto beans
· 4 cans (6.5 lbs.) of chili beans
· 4 cans (6.5 lbs.) of chopped tomatoes
· 2 cans (6.5 lbs.) of puree tomatoes
· 1 bag (3 lbs.) of chopped onions
· 12 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow)
· 24 celery sticks
· 1 jar (48 oz.) minced garlic
· Chili powder
· Cumin powder
· Red (cayenne) pepper
· Sea salt
· Black pepper
1. Open ground beef and 14 cans
2. Drain water from 4 cans of pinto beans
3. Dice/chop bell peppers
4. Dice/chop celery
1. Spray 4 pots with non-stick coating
2. Add strained juice from chili beans (1 can/juice for each pot)
3. Heat on high
4. Add ground beef (4 pots; 10 lbs. in each pot)
5. Divide garlic and onions; stir in to 4 pots
6. Continue stirring until meat is browned
7. Stir in pinto beans (1 can for each pot)
8. Stir in chili beans (1 can for each pot)
9. Stir in chopped tomatoes (1 can for each pot)
10. Stir in puree tomatoes (½ can for each pot)
12. Continue stirring until hot
13. Add seasonings to each pot:
6 Tbsp. of chili powder,
2 Tbsp. of cumin powder,
1 Tbsp. of red (cayenne) pepper,
2 Tbsp. of sea salt, 1 Tbsp. of black pepper 14.
Continue stirring until well cooked; season to taste
Cool it Down
1. Remove pots from stove; cool 15 minutes
2. Transfer chili to plastic buckets; cover with foil, perforate foil
3. Refrigerate overnight
DONATION of HYGIENE KITS