For Los Angeles resident Latrina Wilcher, being in the kitchen and making something special is a warm and comforting memory of her early childhood.
It reminds her of her grandmother making her signature pie -- Katie May’s sweet potato pie -- at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Throughout most of her childhood, Wilcher, now 26, lived in orphanages and foster care, and was even homeless, but, she said: "Even through the hardships and the hard times, finding home and shelter, I still managed to keep connection with my grandmother."
Now, Wilcher, a baker by trade, wants to share those warm memories with others who are in need. Twice per month, she and a friend feed the homeless on Skid Row, the downtown Los Angeles area with one of the largest concentrations of homeless people in the country.
She called it the Sweet Tri Pastries Project, and, on a recent visit to Skid Row, Wilcher distributed potato pies, protein bars, chocolate chip cookies and water.
Wilcher explained her motivation.
“I needed a purpose,” she said. “I needed to give back, and I wanted to help other people have hope.”
The people on Skid Row are grateful, as is Eric Garcetti, the city’s mayor, who dropped by to express his thanks to Wilcher.
“You know, Latrina's an angel in the City of Angels,” he said. “If we had four million Latrinas, we would be done with this issue tomorrow. And I'm hoping it inspires more people to do the same. The government needs to step up and do its part, but we as individuals have to, also.”
Wilcher’s friends, Zachary Greenblott and LaToya Alvare, help her with her outreach to the homeless.
“It’s beautiful to see how she interacts with people down there,” Greenblott said. "She understands what it’s like to miss out on love."
Wilcher acknowledges that there’s a lot that she cannot do for the homeless, but hopes that her small part helps.
“I know that I can't give them a home, but I can give them a pastry. I can give them some water. I can give them hope that people care out there ... and that's why I love to do this -- because I care,” she said. “And I love. We’re spreading love, one slice at a time.”
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