Giving a Hand Up

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By Faye Chapman

This year’s Hunger and Homeless Awareness event was a success, with impassioned speakers championing the cause for the homeless while surrounded by the art of award-winning bronze sculptor Randy Morgan. Held at the BC Space on Nov. 8, attendees were entertained with music from the band, The Giant Peach, and treated with refreshments from Alessa By Chef Pirozzi and desserts from Kitchen in the Canyon.

Artist Randy Morgan, right, and life coach Tim Storey, left, speak with guests during a Hunger and Homeless Awareness Month fundraiser on Nov. 8 at BC Space. Photo by Mitch Ridder

All the Giclée works for the silent auction featured local Laguna Beach people whom Morgan has immortalized in art. Also included for sale were such bronzed pieces as Hawaiian gods honoring Hawaiian surfers and migrants of ancient Polynesians. The event also featured photography by Faye Chapman displaying stark portraits of the homeless.

Chapman formally kicked off the event by introducing Don Scortino of Laguna Beach Net-Works; Laguna Beach Net-Works actively seeks employment for vetted homeless individuals to give them structure and work in order to help the homeless get back on their feet. It benefits those on receiving end and it’s a win-win for all parties concerned. Scortino says work (and sobriety) are essential to get out of homelessness, but it starts with work.

“Faye was my mentor with her work for the homeless,” Scortino told the crowd of attendees. “I’ve seen hundreds of organizations featuring help for the homeless, but not one called out for help from the homeless. As we spend time on the street, we make the invisible people visible, whether on the street or in a mansion, there are lots of lonely people surrounding us,” said Scortino. “When we partner together relationally, we can resource each other to help the poor and needy.”

Randy Morgan and Gail Duncan. Photo by Mitch Ridder

Helping Hands From The Homeless currently has more than 5,000 hours of work logged in. “We realize the risk of hiring one of our homeless friends and vetting our workers is a critical component to our success,” said Scortino.

Among the attendees were Margo and Dale O’Neal of Laguna Beach. Dale used to drive the shuttle bus between the bus stop and the Friendship Shelter, and his wife Margo now volunteers her time in Irvine helping fill out applications for those seeking employment. The couple learned about Laguna Beach Net-Works and how Helping Hands From The Homeless work program has helped get individuals off the streets and into homes by first focusing on getting the homeless working in order to support themselves. For more information on this work program, visit www.fromthehomeless.org.

“I’m personally grateful for the Friendship Shelter, where the 2008 economic crash briefly landed me,” said Morgan. It was at the Friendship Shelter where Morgan first met Scortino. Their friendship has navigated through the times and the evening’s fundraiser was a testament of resilience, love and support.

Tim Storey, the evening’s guest speaker, told the crowd that challenges in life is what he calls “life’s interruptions.”

“The beautiful thing about life is that you don’t count anybody out. It’s simple to say look at the crap someone is in, but it’s very different to get in there to help pick someone up,” said Storey. “Doing this homeless outreach, we’re touching somebody else’s child. All of us who understand pain should help. God will use simple people like us to help each other. When you have a setback, you don’t have to keep taking a step back because God has already prepared your comeback.”

Looking out at the crowd of attendees, Chapman expressed, “It brings my heart joy to see the room filled with so many compassionate people coming together to celebrate Randy and to help those who need a hand up. The Helping Hands from the Homeless work program is very important to me. I’m thankful Don took this wonderful project on to give to those who need help restoring their pride and dignity.”

Morgan continued by saying, “It was wonderful to receive many kind remarks from old and new friends as well as supporters of Helping Hands. Speaking alongside my good friend and mentor Tim Storey, and Don Scortino from Helping Hands, the sole charity we’re giving to, it’s truly magical.”

“A special thank you also goes out to Ludo Leideritz from Forest and Ocean Gallery who curated and hung the show, Rick Conkey and the BC Space, and the many volunteers who made the event happen. I also want to say a very special thank you to Gail Duncan, Faye Chapman and the Housing and Human Services Committee from the city of Laguna Beach, and all the people who pitched in to help raise money to help the homeless,” said Morgan.

If anyone would still like to purchase art, visit www.RandyMorganArt.com and comment “give back” and Morgan will donate to the work program for the homeless.

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