A $250,000 mission to feed the homeless

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amandatraxler110x110BY AMANDA TRAXLER

Mark Jacobs wasn’t necessarily trying to find an antonym for poorhouse when he came up with the name Prosperity House, the intended moniker for a soup kitchen currently in the works for the central San Fernando Valley.

“It just came to me,” said Jacobs, Executive Director of the Many Paths World Service organization.

Nonetheless, a friend’s comment that the project’s name was a reverse take on the poorhouse struck Jacobs as appropriate, given his firm belief in the idea that “we manifest what we believe.”

Mark Jacobs and Sue Mattson are trying to raise $20,000 by the end of June for Prosperity House, a unique soup kitchen to be located in the east valley.

Mark Jacobs and Sue Mattson are trying to raise $20,000 by the end of June, as part of a larger fundraising effort, for Prosperity House, a unique soup kitchen to be located in the East Valley.

It’s for that reason that he tries not to use the label ‘homeless’ for the demographic he intends to serve with the Prosperity House–which he would like to have operational within a year in the Sherman Oaks/Studio City area, though no site has yet been slated.

To meet that goal, a fundraiser is under way to raise $20,000 by the end of  June as part of a larger fundraising effort.

“Our ultimate goal is to raise $250,000 in one year,” Jacobs said. “That’s for pulling it all together and having enough reserve for a while.”

Once open, the Prosperity House will provide a dinner service that, according to Jacobs, will “dramatically and uniquely improve services for those citizens without shelter in the valley.”

One element Jacobs plans to incorporate into the Prosperity House is the recognition of spirit, mind and body. To accomplish that, the soup kitchen will feature an inspirational reading room as well as walls painted in serene colors with inspirational quotes. And before each meal, there will be a voluntary, all-denominational prayer service.

“We do want to make a spiritual avenue available,” Jacobs said, “whatever that means to an individual.”

To enlist supporters, Jacobs, along with Administrative Director Sue Mattson,  launched a cause on Facebook, a popular online networking site. Within 10 days, 107 members had joined.

“Once we reached 100, we challenged them to raise $200 each,” Jacobs said. To do this, Jacobs said members can be as creative as they’d like.

“They can ask eight friends to donate $25 each, or ask 20 friends to donate $10 apiece.” As of June 27,  Jacobs says they’ve raised  “$3000 in hand with at least $1000 pledged and $40,000 in grant requests outstanding.”

“Of course, we continue to fundraise and/or research and write grants every day and it won’t stop at the end of June.  We were putting it out there in a big way and the support has been inspiring.  Money has come from some surprising places and people, so I know there are many who are doing their part in getting the word out there,” says Jacobs.   “I always must remember that I’m not raising money for Prosperity House per se but for every homeless individual who goes without food…it’s her face or his face that moves me to get busy every morning.”

The directors of Many Paths World Service organization began making good on their commitment to service even before the group received its non-profit status, which became official earlier this year.

“We really got busy in November,” Jacobs said, describing how the fledgling group organized about 25 volunteers to help serve a Thanksgiving meal. After that, it organized meditation classes, neighborhood cleanups and a collection drive to help those living without permanent shelter. Now focused on the Prosperity House, Jacobs said he is not married to one particular vision of how to make the soup kitchen a reality.

“We could partner with a church or organization that wants to do this kind of work,” Jacobs said. “Everything in my experience always gets revealed as long as we’re walking the path. So we began with $20,000 in 30 days.”

Those interested in learning more about the Prosperity House can check out the fundraiser on Facebook by entering “Many Paths World Service” in the search function, or by visiting www.manypathsworldservice.org

Amanda Traxler is an L.A.-born writer with degrees in journalism from the University of Kansas and creative writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has  been rediscovering her roots since she returned to the area three years ago from the wintry Midwest.

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Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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