While it was usually held in the chilly month of January, Soup’s On Luncheon Co-Chairs Amy Hegi and Libby Hegi must have had an in with Mother Nature resulting in a chilly start on Thursday, February 20. With Chief Chef Brian Luscher ramrodding his team of chefs to serve up soup and Skid Row Running Club Founder/LA Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell providing food for serious thought, the fundraising was on for The Stewpot. Here’s a report from the field:
Over 600 guests were welcomed by emcee Robert Wilonsky, reporter for The Dallas Morning News. The Reverend Amos Disasa, Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian Church, gave invocation followed by words from Luncheon Co-Chairs Amy Hegi and Libby Hegi who thanked sponsors and Honorary Co-Chairs Ann and John Hallam, Sara and Robert Hallam and Fanchon and Howard Hallam.
Chef Brian Luscher introduced his team of chefs (Jeff Bekavac, Omar Flores, Danyele McPherson, Suki Otsuki, Caroline Perini, Janice Provost, Anastacia Quinones, Javier Reyes, Jeramie Robison, Abraham Salum, Nicholas Walker and Greg Wallace), who were presented custom tasting spoons designed by Dallas-based artists Christi Coltrin and Brad Oldham, presented by Stewpot Alliance President Emily Turner.
Speaking from the heart, Brian said. “Rather than trying to disperse Dallas’ homeless and at-risk citizens, I choose to embrace them and build a bigger table.” This years spoons were themed “It Takes Two” – one to offer and one to accept, not because the luncheon was held on 2/20/2020.
Keynote speaker/Skid Row Running Club Founder/Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell attended along with”Skid Row Marathon” documentary producer and director Gabi and Mark Hayes.
Skid Row Running Club is a unique club that uses the power of running to improve the lives of those at risk of homelessness in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. Prior to becoming a judge, Mitchell taught high school in L.A.’s inner city for 16 years. After graduating from law school, he became an Assistant District Attorney in Los Angeles, where he was later appointed to the Superior Court by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005.
In 2012, a man whom Mitchell had sentenced to prison approached him and asked the judge to visit him at the Midnight Mission, a homeless shelter where he was living. Inspired by this visit, Mitchell decided to start a running club, believing that the discipline of running would have a positive influence on many at the mission.
At the Skid Row Running Club, Mitchell trains anyone who shows up to run marathons. If they stay clean, off the streets and out of jail, he will take them to a foreign destination each year to run a marathon. Last year it was in Ecuador. He wakes up at 5 a.m. three times a week to run with the club.
According Judge Mitchell, Skid Row Running Club and The Stewpot are successful because it’s a “contact sport.” “We are only human when we have connections with other humans… Y’all in Dallas get it.”
The Stewpot through it’s four core programs which include client services, children/youth and family services, meal services and enrichment/workforce programs, The Stewpot serves approximately 12,000 individuals annually.
* Photo provided by The Stewpot Alliance