On the Town: Jackie Robinson Community Center continues hot meal program; zpizza opens near Pasadena City College
The 22,000th Pasadena Hot Meal was served to Mildred White who is surrounded by, from left, son-in-law Kenneth Davis, Pastor Thomas Berea, Hot Meals founder Robin Salzer with his daughter Josefina Villicana-Salzer, 2. (Photo by Ruth Sowby / January 26, 2013)
Wednesday, Jan. 16, marked the second anniversary of the Center's Pasadena Hot Meal Program. The day also marked the 22,000th hot meal served. That was the honor granted to Mildred White. “I come here a lot,” said White. But before she had a chance to eat the coveted dinner of turkey and trimmings, White was the star in a brief ceremony during which she was also given a bouquet of white roses. Son-in-law Kenneth Davis also got into the picture. VIPs participating in the honors were Pastor Thomas Bereal from Abounding Grace Ministries and Pasadena Hot Meals founder Robin Salzer.
“Nothing builds a community like food. We care,” said Salzer.
Every Wednesday night since the program's inception on Dec.1, 2010, the Center has been filled with hungry patrons. On Thursday evenings free hot meals are also served at Villa Park Community Center. Altogether, that's about 400 meals served each week. But this evening 400 people packed the Robinson Center for the anniversary celebration.
Each week community leaders are enlisted to do the serving. This evening one of the 15 servers was Pasadena's finest, Police Chief Phillip Sanchez. He wielded a mean spatula of something cheesy. Pasadena Now publisher James MacPherson was also a volunteer server. Usually part of the paparazzi ranks, tonight MacPherson was on the other end of the camera. Often wearing a tuxedo to the fancy affairs he covers, for serving he sported an apron and hairnet.
Among the first in line for dinner was Sum'aku H. Ali from Pasadena. She comes to the center two to four times a month. She was willing to chat between bites of a huge turkey leg. “Robin is always trying to help people. He's very compassionate,” she said. “He's given out blankets. We need more people to help here.”
Other helpers were found behind the scenes. Katherine Morgan is the coordinator for kitchen and volunteers. She volunteers at the Robinson Center and at Villa Park. Morgan originally came to the center two years ago when the Hot Meals program started. All she expected to enjoy was a free turkey dinner. She had that and more. After Salzer recognized her talent for organizing and her ties to the community, Morgan was quickly recruited for volunteer duty.
At dinner's end, 30 gift cards were given away through a raffle. The Lutheran Social Service Center also gave away clothing. The recipients of the evening's largesse were well fed inside and out.
Where turkey was the order of the day at the Robinson Center, pizza was the starring attraction at the Monday, Jan. 21, opening of zpizza on Colorado across from Pasadena City College. This is the place for college kids who want their pizza tasty and healthy. But anyone can enjoy zpizza's Napoli pie made up of home-roasted garlic sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, basil and Parmesan cheese. How about the Italian pie? It has pesto sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts, ham and black olives.
The staff at zpizza boasts that their ingredients contain no MSG, no gluten and no meat hormones but plenty of organic flour and cheese from grass-fed, Wisconsin cows. Even the chicken is antibiotic free. “This is not your average pizza shop,” said Sarine Avedyan whose family has opened zpizza as part of the Valik Corp.
Beer and wine will be on tap in the near future.
Zpizza offers catering and delivery and takes online orders.
RUTH SOWBY may be reached at email@example.com.