Turning the Tables

DSC_0451Ten times per year, we hold our popular Guest Chef Dinners at Plates Café, where 200-250 members of our community gather in support of our program to enjoy a delicious meal-with-a-meaning, prepared and presented by a local “guest chef” with the help of our Employment Training Program participants. Each fall for the past three years, we’ve turned the tables with a “Reverse Guest Chef Dinner,” where together with the support of our dedicated community partner Allstate, we’ve held a special dinner event for our clients as a way to celebrate and honor their strength, dedication and hard work in bringing Real Change to their lives.


The dinner is held in October, to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Allstate’s Purple Purse Challenge, a month-long national fundraising campaign designed to raise funds for life-changing services to help domestic violence survivors. As more than 70% of Saint John’s clients are survivors of domestic violence, we are, and have been, an active participant in the Purple Purse Challenge since its inception.

On their journeys to self-sufficiency, here are some telling sentiments from some of our clients:

“Saint John’s opened their door right when I needed it. Now I realize how unhealthy my relationships have been.” Tara C.

“I have finally dared to hope.” Sabrina L.

“Saint John’s helped me to get through the storm.” Porsche L.

“Saint John’s taught me how to peel back the layers so I can heal.” Grace J.

“I knew I had to leave when he pushed my four-year-old daughter.” Angel M.

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This year’s dinner was held on Monday, October 22, complete with a DJ, lots of dancing, a photo booth, delicious fare and even purple purse-shaped cookies (thanks to our talented pastry chef Courtney Marx)! Many thanks to the 34 local Allstate agency owners and employees who came together to prepare and serve dinner to 70 of our amazing clients, under the direction and supervision of Plates Café Chef Steve Gibanov.

“As community leaders, Allstate agents get to experience firsthand the adversities and challenges that their local communities face, and it is a privilege to be able to give back and strengthen those communities by helping others in need,” comments Phil Telgenhoff, field senior vice president of Allstate California Region, and vice-chair of Saint John’s Board of Directors.

Click here to learn more about, and/or to donate to, this year’s Purple Purse Challenge.

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Blog by Sue Cawdrey
Grants & Communications Manager
Saint John’s Program for Real Change

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