When Gina Riberi left her practice as a commercial litigation attorney, she agreed to help out at her husband’s new technology business for a short time.
Another decade would fly by before she would follow her calling and passion to help others.
The task ahead was not an easy one. There are 25,000 non-profits in Los Angeles to choose from, and countless more around the world.
Eventually she found what she was looking for in her own backyard.
“I saw there was a tremendous local need,” said the Brookside resident.
She celebrates 10 years with St. Vincent Meals on Wheels, where she joined its 275-volunteer force bringing hot lunches to the homebound and seriously ill, and with her husband David, worked in the kitchen during the holidays. The couple have a daughter, Marielle, 5.
Riberi became president a year ago of the group’s fund-raising and volunteer arm, Cuisine à Roulettes, sponsors of the 20th annual bike-a-thon in April and An Evening at the Beach with celebrity chefs in August.
She has a “tremendous respect for the cause” which strategically buys food and produce on a tight budget to feed 4,000 seniors, the homeless and children breakfast, a hot lunch or cold supper every day. Some clients receive all three, depending on need.
“They [the meals] have been the safety net for a lot of people,” especially in the last economic downturn, said Riberi.
The program is the largest privately funded Meals on Wheels in the country.
“We do not accept any government funding for many reasons. Most importantly that allows us to serve anyone in need regardless of age, ethnicity, disability or ability to pay,” said program’s executive director Daryl Twerdahl, Hancock Park.
Founded 37 years ago by Sister Alice Marie Quinn, the popular nun is still at the helm.
Delivery drivers and runners are needed for four hours a week and receive a hot lunch. Shifts are available Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Every volunteer shift saves the program $56 that can better be spent on food.
To volunteer call Carol Martinez at 213-484-7494.
Santa at Meals on Wheels Dec. 7
Santa and his elves are expected at a Winter Wonderland family celebration on Sun., Dec. 7 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the St. Vincent Meals on Wheels Kitchen, 2201 Miramar St.
Cookie decorating, ornament making and live music will be included in the festivities. Creativity coach Alexa Gray will also be at the event. RSVP Daryl Twerdahl, at 213-484-7112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.