Pasadena Mayor’s Interfaith Breakfast Served Up Positivity and Insight

Mayor Terry Tornek and Rabbi Marvin GrossRabbi Marvin GrossOlewine, Mayor Tornek, Cheung and MedranoVOX Vita Choir

Story and Photography by BRANDON VILLALOVOS

4:49 am | May 6, 2016

Thursday’s Mayor’s Interfaith Prayer Breakfast was a morning filled with a healthy dose of positivity and togetherness while highlighting Pasadena’s dedication to community service.

Put on by the longstanding community non-profit organization Friends In Deed, the first interfaith breakfast of Mayor Tornek’s term was greeted with hungry residents, community leaders and various organizations that comprise the tireless efforts of the city’s mission to help ones in need.

This year’s keynote speaker was Chief Executive Officer of Union Station Homeless Services, Rabbi Marvin Gross, who delivered a powerful speech filled with telling lessons of love and compassion and reminders that we are all united at the end of the day.

“Giving to others is embedded in our DNA. It’s a characteristic of who we are. Serving others and working for a common good is something we are capable of,” said Gross.

Gross has become a prominent figure in Pasadena over the past few decades by dedicating his life to a selfless journey of homelessness prevention and outreach programs through the Union Station Homeless Services non-profit which provides resources and programs to homeless families and individuals in need.

Gross will be retiring in June after 21 years of service.

“From what I’ve seen at Union Station, engagement with such issues makes an impact on volunteers that last a lifetime. By engaging in community service, we are able to live out our highest, greatest and most noble values,” explained Gross.

Mayor Terry Tornek presented Gross with an award that recognizes Gross’s longstanding dedication to Pasadena and issues of homelessness.

“During his tenure, Union Station has made a focus not just on individuals, but also on families. His compassion and wisdom has enabled Union Station to help thousands of people improve their lives and live their lives with dignity,” said Tornek.

Gross’s speech was followed by a cheerful performance from the Pasadena High School’s Vox Vita Choir and Cantor Ruth Berman Harris of the Pasadena Jewish Temple providing a gentle song on the acoustic guitar.

The room was quickly filled with a wall of hundreds of voices joining together and singing along to the prayer songs in unision.

In addition to the guests leaving the breakfast with a full stomach, they also left with an inspirational mindset and a powerful reminder of each and every person’s importance within the community, in which Rabbi Marvin Gross was sure to spread this notion to everyone who attended.

“I feel that folks should give to their community regardless of how much they have received. Giving should be an early, original, primary action itself, not one that follows only after a period of receiving,” said Gross.

Until next year, the 43rd Annual Mayoral Interfaith Breakfast was a gathering that shined a light on the positive forces of Pasadena.