By Dennis J. Freeman
LOS ANGELES — Darlene Love used to walk the pathways near the canals in Watts. What she saw appalled her. There were scores of people lined up along the canal off Central Avenue in South Los Angeles, living in tents, trying to survive.
Getting food supplies and clothing was a blessing for those living there where survival was a day-to-day battle.
Love, a longtime caterer, saw a need and decided to something about it. Thus, the yearly Feed Our Family event, which benefits those in need, began.
On Nov. 10, Love and a host of volunteers put their heart, arms and legs into action during the ninth annual Feed Our Family event under a big tent in the same area of Central Avenue where she used to check in on people living out of their homes and in the streets. U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters came out to share her support for what Love and her crew of volunteers were doing.
This is what servicing the community really means, Love said.
“By me being a caterer, and I’m from Watts, so what I did was … basically we walked the canal in the back and I saw that there was a need for a lot of people that was not doing that good,” Love said. “So I decided to use what I know, and my field is in cooking, to come out and help them.”
Love is not the only person to see the need. Several local vendors and business entities such as Three Amigos restaurant, Harrison-Ross Mortuary, Slauson Learning Center and others helped make the event go off. They served a hot dinner of baked chicken, fried chicken, roasted chicken, macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.
Velvet Victorian used to be homeless. She knows the feeling of having to get up and fight for some of the basic necessities of life, including securing adequate hygiene products, taking a bath and getting food into her stomach. Victorian, who went to school with Love, said she came out to the event to support the cause that her friend is fighting.
“I came out here to support my sister, Darlene,” Victorian said. “We went to elementary school, junior high and Fremont High. We came from a school where the Black Panthers came from. They were one of the first in the community to do this kind of stuff.
“Almost everybody that went to our junior high is of service,” Victorian added. “This is how we rebuild Watts. We need to get rid of some of the stigma that has to do with homelessness. I was homeless.”
Karen Biles, a resident of Los Angeles, said what Love and her team are doing every year is great news for a largely impoverished neighborhood.
“I’ve been knowing Darlene for three or four years,” Biles said. “She does this every year. The food is great. I think this is great because some of the people don’t get to eat food like this.”