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Friends in Deed Earn Their Name

Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2023 | 5:00 am

“As you dine tonight, think of those just outside our doors in the cold,“ said Richard Cheung, past president of Friends in Deed, the Pasadena homeless services agency, which held its second annual “Friends in Cheese” fundraising event Monday evening at Agnes Cheesery in Old Pasadena.

“That’s the reason we are here,“ he said to the crowd of nearly 100 friends and supporters of the nonprofit’s mission. “We want to continue our work in helping these people.”

“We are so grateful and blessed to have Vanessa (Talaka Kalb) and Thomas (Talaka Kalb) invite us here to their restaurant for this second fundraiser,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, executive Director of Friends in Deed.

“It’s really awesome,“ said Rabbi Grater. “They invite their chef friends, and we invite our friends, and people can come and eat as much as they want, and it all goes to such a great cause to help what we are trying to do.“

Friends in Deed, an interfaith organization, said Rabbi Grater, has been providing supportive services to the homeless community since 1894, “as a congregation of pastors, who wanted to provide support to people in need.”

Currently, the Friends in Deed food pantry serves 500 families a week, and the organization also provides a “women’s room,“ which offers homeless women a place to nap, to shower, to read, and receive support, as they leave the street for a few hours each day, Grater shared.

There is also a new eviction intervention service, as well as a quickly expanding motel night voucher program, along with cold-weather services and kits, including blankets and toiletries, Grater added. 

The fundraising effort, one of several held throughout the year, quickly surpassed its modest $12,000 goal, reaching a total of nearly $17,000 before the evening was through.

The fundraising event featured chefs serving dishes from a number of popular local restaurants, including Agnes‘s own fried cheese curd wedge cups with Fresno bleu cheese and spring onion; along with a cheese and cured meat grazing table with crackers, corn, nuts, fruit, preserves, and a country mustard; meanwhile, Adrian Porto, and Anthony Greco of Portos Bakery, provided Ropa Vieja with braised rib, cap, sweet maduro, black bean purée, on crispy rice chips. 

There were also delights from Pasadena‘s Bone Kettle, and the Rice Box in Downtown LA, as well as Liz Sension’s own famous banana pudding with vanilla wafers, as well as vanilla cupcakes, and chocolate chip cookies.

More information about Friends in Deed and its homeless services, is available at

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