Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Thanksgiving

// November 9th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Cooking, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

cooking with Kengi 011Last year was my first Thanksgiving in my apartment and it was the first Thanksgiving outreach that I have done here in Hollywood marking the second overall Thanksgiving outreach to homeless people here in Los Angeles County. Each time I approach an outreach I do my best to see how it will really help people right now, not weeks, months or years from now. I guess from being homeless I know helping someone right now means so much more to a homeless person.

Last year was the first time I was able to not just feed homeless people, but formerly homeless people and people battling HIV or AIDS, by providing three food boxes to families in need. Thanksgiving day, with the help of friends I was able to feed about 75 people a home cooked Thanksgiving meal. Later I enjoyed the evening with my friends.

So as I type this blog  I am doing so from a much different place then last year. As I said before it was my first Thanksgiving living here after being homeless for 29 months which came to an end in June of 2009. However this year I now have a job and I am able to simply help people instead of waiting and hoping that people will donate items to make what I do possible. I know I can always count on my core group of supporters, but it is now nice to know that I can contribute far more then I use to.

The goal will once again be to feed homeless people, but this year the goal is to provide 10 Thanksgiving food boxes to low income families who are formerly homeless or battling HIV or AIDS. So far thanks to the support of my two friends Tina and Andy who donated two large bags filled with boxes of cornbread dressing mix. I have two people who have said they will donate turkey’s and the rest I will balance out.

I still need someone with a car to help me get the items to the families and also Thanksgiving day I will need people to help me pass out the food to homeless people here in Hollywood.

Once again this will be another Thanksgiving where I am so thankful and humbled by all the blessings God keeps sending my way and yet another year that I will be able to be a blessing to others through my Do Something Saturday outreach.

Back In The Saddle

// October 16th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Animals, Cooking

Working 010This past week was my first week back to work in what feels like decades, but once I got into the kitchen my mojo kicked in and it was as if I had never been absent. I feels really awesome to be back at work.

The rough thing has been the fact that I am cooking menus set by the head chef, which I don’t like at all, but I have been able to turn around much of the poor planning of menus as well as the low morale of the people who eat the food, by simply doing what I have always done very well. COOK!!!! I have also been able to change the atmosphere in the kitchen from a place that was described as “grim” to a place filled with laughter, communication and respect.

I started work med week, so to be able to get all this accomplished feels really good for me and I am so looking forward to a week from Monday where breakfast and lunch menus will be planned and cooked by me while collaborating with the head chef on Monday night dinners to make them what they are supposed to be as well as helping to shape the rest of the weeks dinner menus as well.

The hardest thing for me this week has been the fact that I have to get up at 4:00AM in order to make it to work by 6:00AM. Now METRO or the MTA says I can catch the 5:20AM bus and make it to work by 5:47AM. I’ve done this twice now and each time I get to work after 6:00AM. For some reason I don’t think the people who plan the schedules or make the time tables have a real understanding on riding the bus. Furthermore I know METRO (MTA) could give a rats ass if people are late for work based on the information they provide.

Now I know you might be saying “just get an earlier bus” and this is what I would do if I were able to do this. The 5:20AM scheduleWorking 006 is the first regular schedule bus. Prior to this the bus runs about once an hour. So even if I got the bus stop at 4:30AM, I could in fact still be waiting for the 5:20AM bus. I certainly am not going to be out there at 3:00AM to get to work a little of two hours early. I just wish METRO (MTA) would do a better job at planning and servicing their riders. Hopefully this will all change once I am able to save some money and buy a car. WOW, would that be nice or what?

So the first week was awesome, the meals were on time and enjoyed by everyone. My day goes by very fast too. Before I know it 12:30PM has arrived, I take my break and I only have an hour and half left before I clock out and head home. I love this schedule because it allows me to still do my community work, plus I have weekends off.

Today was a very relaxing day for me. For the most part I have been home just relaxing with Dodger. I did go out to purchase my uniform for Monday night. Oh yeah, Monday is a very long day for me. I start at 6:00AM and don’t finish until 7:00PM. I know Sleeping that night will be so important because Tuesday morning at 4:00AM will come rather quickly.

Back in the kitchen 007There has been one small draw back to working and that is I must leave Dodger in his crate while I am not here. If I leave him out he tears things up or he will pee in the house in many different places. I know he is just showing out, so he must remain in the crate. When I get home he is very excited and very vocal. So I sit with him for about an hour before I take him out so he won’t try to bite everyone we walk past.

Later this evening I will plan out my meals and relax. I might even treat myself to a dinner out.

Rewarding Week

// October 1st, 2010 // No Comments » // Cooking

This week has been filled with so many blessing for me, there is so much to blog about, but I will be keeping this post very simple and short.

A couple of blogs back I blogged about an apartment in Santa Monica and how I was thankful for the green grass on this side of the fence and all this is very true. I am very thankful for the apartment I have along with all the amazing friends and blessings I have in my life. However something about this apartment would not leave me alone, I kept thinking about it and thinking about it, so I did so foot work, asked a few questions here and there and each time I walked away with different answers. So I asked more questions and did more foot work.

I was told that since I am already in Shelter Plus Care that I would not ever be allowed to move, I was told that this was against the rules, even led to believe that I could be kicked out of the apartment I have. Now the answers were coming from people who work for HUD in the Shelter Plus Care division, so I was a bit puzzled as to how people who are supposed to know these type of things could get the answers so wrong and so screwed up. One woman even acted as if i was going to be moving in with her.

As it turns out the waiting list I am on is not a Shelter Plus Care apartment, but a Section 8 Low Income apartment. After speaking with the manager and letting him know my situation he explained he explained how things work and assured me that I was not doing anything wrong and I could in fact move, even if it were a Shelter Plus Care apartment.

I met with him on Thursday morning to complete the paperwork for the apartment. As I said before the building is in the very same city were I was born and raised. My family has been residents there for more then 80 years. I created my Do Something Saturday outreach there, so in many ways for me it would be getting a new start in the very place I had my first start.

After I got back home, I had some time to relax, spend time with Dodger and then because my Sickle Cell was bothering me I took a nap. Two hours later I felt much better, took Dodger out again and then came home to talk with my friend Christina to share the good news about the apartment. As I was speaking with her, I saw that I had a new email message. I could see part of the subject line, “still interested in cooking”

The email was from someone I interviewed with for a head cooks position back in 2008, she hung on to my information and is now wanting to interview me for a breakfast cooks position. This would be such a huge opportunity for me in so many ways, because it would allow me to work in the mornings until 2:30pm, plus I would be off on the weekends. Most importantly it would allow me to no longer be dependent on the government for my income. I am so very excited about the possibility of returning to work. The fact that this job came looking for me is a good sign.

I’ve been in my place for over a year now, in this time I have been on over 90 job interviews. I get messages all the time in my YOUTUBE in box and even on my videos sometimes “you need to stop being lazy and find a job” It’s funny how people think they can watch a few videos, even read a few of my blogs and then know so much about me and my work ethic. If I were a weak person comments such as those would really get to me, but they dont.

Today at 2:30pm I have a job interview, with someone I met back in 2008. I have a really good feeling about this.

Helping Others Through Food

// June 5th, 2010 // No Comments » // Cooking, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach, Me Time

Chillin and Doing Something 008It’s been a great relaxing, but very busy past two days for me, I know I haven’t blogged about it, but there was a death in our family and I have been busy babysitting my great nieces and nephew for the past two days so my niece and her husband were able to attend the funeral and the kids could keep their schedules with school.

Thursday was pretty busy with outreaches down to Skid Row for Unpluggin’ HIV and picking up and dropping off the kids, going to the park, beach and cooking for them as well. Our day finally can to an end at 8:40PM. The kids took their baths and then played for a while before heading to bed, while I chatted with my friends on FACEBOOK as well as laughing my ass off with my friend Leah.

I must say I have really missed sleeping in my own bed. I am laughing while IChillin and Doing Something 006am saying this cause it just feels so funny to say. For the past two nights I have slept on the futon in my great nephews room and man has that been very uncomfortable. I even think it was bad for Dodger too because at one point her really started to throw a fit. I think I was able to get better sleep last night because I was so tired from all the running around we did, but it was still not a good nights sleep.

As I said in my blog earlier this week, my friend Jacque from Texas sent some amazing clothes that were her sons to help support my efforts to provide clothes for people in need. I used the clothes to support my Unpluggin HIV outreach down on Skid Row for people battling HIV or AIDS. With this donation I was able to give clothes to people who I have not been able to help very much because of the sizes I get most times are very small. Not that these two men are fat or anything like this, but one is tall and thick and the other is medium height and thick as well. I was also able to give clothes to other residents as well. In fact, Michael, the resident who I just interviewed for my Conversations with Kengi was able to get the smaller clothes. This was so awesome because he is in school, doing a great job I might add, and is in need of some help.

From Texas 001Jacque, I cant thank you enough for sending these awesome clothes which allowed me to help some pretty awesome people who are battling HIV as well as people I consider my friends and care for a great deal. I know there are plenty of places you could have sent these clothes and I am so humbled and thankful that you selected what I am trying to do. The guys were very thankful and I know if they could do it in person they would, but since they cant I will do it for them. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

So, it’s Friday and right now I am typing the first part of this blog before I takeFrom Texas 010 off for a interview with a director for a film project he is working on. Some of the things they are looking for are people who use social networking and bloggers. Now even though I am a huge user of social networks and I blog all the time, this does not assure me a place in this project, but I am sure it gives me a good shot. Plus my friend Alison who is friends with the director told me about it. I also vlog, so that my be a good thing as well. How very cool would it be to get a spot in a film project?

I also had the chance to help out my friend Franklin who is also HIV positive, but is in desperate need of some dental services. He has braces that are falling apart in his mouth and does not have the money to pay to have them removed. He has tried going to dental clinics, but has had no luck getting them removed. So I made some calls for him to see if people I know would be able to help him. It took about three days but two people got back with me and I was able to pass Franklin a list of over 40 places for him to call to see if they can help him with his dental. I have learned from hanging out and talking with Franklin that I cant do too much for him, because he has a tendency to not do anything. By giving him the list to make the calls himself, this will empower him to make the effort to help himself. I am very hopeful that he will follow through on this. I will keep you posted on how things turn out for him.

2:20pm, Saturday

Chillin and Doing Something 043The rest of my Friday with the kids was really cool. Since they always have questions about what I do I thought it would be cool to simply show them. Their parents are really good at making sure they know about many social issues and homelessness is one of them. So I took them with me to shop for items for two different outreaches. One that will take place in August to help homeless people as well as people battling HIV and AIDS. The goal is to get enough supplies to make 600 hygiene kits. I call them Do Something or Life Kits. There will be 300 Do Something and 300 Life Kits.

For those of you who are new to my blog, let me just tell you that a Do Something or Life Kits are made up of travel size hygiene items that are packed in gallon size ziplock bags that are provided to people who are homeless or battling HIV or AIDS free of charge. I created the Do Something Kit when I was homeless. After I was diagnosed HIV positive, still homeless, I then decided to create the Life Kits for people battling HIV or AIDS, who also might be homeless.

The past week I got donations from people on my youtube channel to help meChillin and Doing Something 001 get supplies for the outreach in August. I wanna extend a huge “THANK YOU” to them for helping me with this effort. Because of their donations I was able to purchase 104 bottles of water and 80 Rice Crispy Treats for the outreach in August.

In addition to getting some supplies I need for August I was also able to do a feeding thank to the support for my friends Lee and Philip who have been helping me feed homeless people. Since we had plans to head down to the beach, I thought it would be awesome to stop by Chess Park and feed my homeless friends there. I mentioned this to the kids and they too thought this would be cool. Farah, then suggested that we make a video about our day as well. Since I am taking a break from putting videos up on youtube I told them that we could simply take pictures. This is when she said, “we can do the video and you can film us.” I said ok, so the video is uploading to my Cooking with Kengi channel.

Chillin and Doing Something 002Before leaving for the store we talked about what we wanted to do. I really wanted them to take charge of this outreach so I told them some things about the people they would meet. After talking about them for a bit I asked them what did they think we should make for them to eat. They suggested turkey sandwiches, with macaroni salad and glazed doughnuts. When I asked them why doughnuts, they said “they need something sweet to cheer them up.”

I knew we would arrive at the beach after 2:00PM and this meant that not many of the guys would still be around. I never want to make too much for fear it would go to waste. I would rather run out then to have far too many. So we made 9 lunches and headed to pick up their little sister from daycare and then down to the beach.

The kids were really excited to do this and all along the way to the beach theyChillin and Doing Something 042asked questions about my friends and how I knew them. We talked about how I knew them and once we parked at the beach Farah came over to me and said “Uncle Louis, if you dont have a place to stay again, I will let you sleep in my room ok? I dont want my uncle homeless again.” I smiled at her, gave her a kiss and said “ok sweetie. Thank you.”

We took the lunches and headed into Chess Park and right away we found David. David was the very first homeless person I met when I was homeless and he showed me how to stay warm at night by stuffing newspaper in my clothes to stay warm. He also gave me warnings as to which places I should avoid sleeping. He also told me who to avoid.

Chillin and Doing Something 052As always David had a huge smile when he saw me and right away jumped into one of his stories about teaching kids to play chess. The kids thought he was so cool and very nice. He even offered to teach them how to play chess. Maybe one day soon I will be able to take them back there and David can spend some time teaching them how to play.

Just like I thought, many of the homeless people were already gone. We made just the right amount. I talked with David for a while and then I headed over the sand with the kids to play on the swings for a bit. When it was time to go they said how much fun they had and asked if they could help me feed homeless people again. I told them yes.

By this time we were all tired and hungry, so we headed back to my place. AlongChillin and Doing Something 051 they way they asked if we could have ribs for dinner and I told them that the BBQ place was way on the other side of town. This is when they said “we want your BBQ” I laughed, said “ok” and we headed to the store.

Our dinner was BBQ ribs, corn on the cob and the last of the macaroni salad. We had ice cream bars for a snack. They watched TV and played while I cleaned the kitchen and talked to Dodger who was sitting next to my feet as I washed the dishes. Their parents arrived around 11:40PM. WOW, this was a long two days with them and I was so ready for them to leave so my life could slow down again. I really love spending time with the kids. It’s really funny cause as my niece was walking out the door she turned and gave me a hug and said “I love you uncle Lou, thanks so much for watching the kids.” We both laughed and then she said “Do you remember when you use to pick me up when I was a kid?” I smiled and said “yes and your kids are no different then you and your cousins were back then.”

Chillin and Doing Something 062Dodger and I walked her down and said goodbye to her, the kids and her husband. He even calls me “uncle Louis.”

Once back in the apartment Dodger let out two barks as if to say “we got our place back to ourselves” ran over to his toy duck and began to shake the shit out of it. He retired to the back of the sofa and looked out the window until he fell asleep. I took a hot bath, chatted and then called Leah, had some awesome laughs and went to bed.

I had a great two days with my family and I was able to help people who areChillin and Doing Something 065homeless as well as battling HIV and AIDS with the help of my awesome friends. What better way to start my weekend, then with family and friends, doing our parts to help those who are in need.

It’s been a very lazy Saturday for Dodger and I and we are loving every single minute of it.

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