clients a year with food, shelter and transportation vouchers.
Out of the chaos, the center's board of directors hired Patricia
Smola, a Kiwanis member who came to their attention through her
volunteer work and successful fundraising for the center.
"She gets along with everyone, she's fair and always gives us
credit," 20-year-volunteer Patsy Danskin said.
Volunteers describe Smola as "hands-on," which was evidenced when
she moved from an isolated, spacious office with vintage leather
chairs to a small cubicle in the front, where she supervises the
influx of clients each day at the center at 1304 W. Burbank Blvd.
But for Smola, who raised four children on her own, stability also
means a dose of some "tough love."
"Certain people were coming here for a long time," she said. "We
had to change the mold."
Smola made sure staff was more vigilant about screening needy
clients to make sure they weren't using the center to receive more
food than they needed. She and the staff also went to work stopping
residents from dumping items that the center could not use -- like
broken washing machines and couches with the springs coming out. "No
dumping" signs were posted and Smola even stood outside the center on
weekends to keep people from leaving unusable items.
Smola's goal is to remodel and enlarge the center to accommodate
more donations, which have been down since the terrorist attacks of
Seven-year board member Ron Reeves is pleased with the operation
of the center and the distance from the tumult.
"Those troubles are behind us," he said.