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SPINning for 21 years

Nonprofit's annual gala will bring in money for its various programs, including meals and hygiene kits for homeless.

November 04, 2010|By Sarah Peters, sarah.peters@latimes.com

COSTA MESA — Local nonprofit Serving People In Need will celebrate 21 years of serving Orange County's homeless families and working poor this weekend.

Since the inception of SPIN, 74,000 families and individuals have received a second chance at self-sufficiency and financial independence through the organization's programs for home placement, substance abuse and free meals.

"It's not just the homeless, but also what we're calling the newly homeless that we're seeing," Executive Director Jean Wegener said about a recession-fueled influx of struggling Orange County residents who come into SPIN offices on a daily basis. "It's someone who has worked his entire life and not the person you'd expect to see homeless."

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The organization began on the mission of Newport Beach resident Sam Boyce to find the answer to one question:

"He asked, 'What do we do with the homeless?'" Wegener said. "[Boyce] and six other people said, 'Let's go out and find for ourselves what bought the people onto the streets' and the information that they found there was started our first program."

That first program two decades ago was the street services program, which today provides 350 meals each week and distributes hygiene kits, warm clothing, blankets and referrals to shelters.

Over time, the organization expanded its services to include the Guided Assistance to Permanent Placement and Substance Abuse Rehabilitation programs.

Guided Assistance to Permanent Placement helps participants learn life skills from maintaining a healthy credit score to how to clip grocery coupons.

These are simple things, very basic, yet necessary to know and it's amazing that some people don't know how to do that," Wegener said.

The ultimate goal of this program is to find a person permanent housing — 870 benefited in 2009 — and give that person the knowledge and ability to remain self-sufficient.

SPIN will host its annual fundraiser gala, this year featuring a Spanish theme, "Viva SPIN," and a drawing for a chance at a $1,000 shopping spree at South Coast Plaza, on Saturday at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Hotel in Huntington Beach.

Independent audits of the nonprofit's finances show that 94% of funds raised and donated go directly to programs and benefit the clients, Wegener said.

If You Go: "Viva SPIN," an annual fundraiser gala from Serving People In Need

When: Saturday, Nov. 6

Where: Hilton Waterfront Beach Hotel in Huntington Beach

How to Help: For the limited-supply gala tickets or for volunteer opportunities, call the SPIN offices at (714) 751-3332.

If You Go

What: "Viva SPIN," an annual fundraiser gala from Serving People In Need

When: Saturday

Where: Hilton Waterfront Beach Hotel in Huntington Beach

How to Help: For the limited-supply gala tickets or for volunteer opportunities, call the SPIN offices at (714) 751-3332.

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