More than 150 members and guests gathered at the Ebell of Los Angeles Monday for the annual Rest Cottage Association luncheon which, this year, celebrating 101 years of supporting women in need through the Ebell’s Rest Cottage Association philanthropy.
“One hundred one and a half years ago, in late 1917, an Ebell Club member named Miss Lillian B. Flanders deeded a small home she owned at 135 West 95th Street to the Club for use as a non-profit convalescent home for women in need. Staffed by volunteers from the Ebell, the building was named the “Rest Cottage” and was dedicated to providing care to help the women recuperate from surgery, serious illness, or, sometimes, breakdowns due to overwork. It provided the rest and quiet they needed to allow them to resume their pre-illness occupations,” said Randi Jones, RCA Chair and Ebell Board member, who recounted the story of the formation of the Rest Cottage as a home for women who needed refuge, and its growth into a foundation that grants more than $125,000 annually to social service organizations in Los Angeles.
“A year later, in December 1918, the Ebell Board of Directors voted to authorize the creation of a non-profit association of Ebell members with an operating fund to maintain the Rest Cottage and assist the women it sheltered,” continued Jones. “Known as the Ebell Rest Cottage Association, it had (and has) its own board and membership but operates under the auspices of the Ebell Board. The Bylaws call for the Rest Cottage Association to use its income “for charitable purposes designed to benefit females, who, for whatever reason, are in need of loving care and helpful assistance of a charitable nature.” RCA membership cost a dollar then in addition to the regular Club dues, and members volunteered to raise funds and do errands, chores, and whatever else was needed by residents at the Rest Cottage.
“In 1922, members commissioned a larger building at 135 North Park View Street, where the work of the association continued for several more decades until the advent of Medicare and Medicaid in the ‘60s, and then the increased availability of educational and employment opportunities for women, made it both less urgent and more difficult for Ebell members to accomplish. The house on North Park View was sold, and the proceeds of the sale were used to endow a fund to further the original mission of the Rest Cottage, to help provide care and necessities of life for women in need throughout LA County.
This year, the RCA endowment operated by Ebell members made grants to 11 organizations that align with the RCA’s mission: Alcoholism Center for Women, Alexandria House, Families & Criminal Justice, Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women & Children, House of Ruth, Jewish Family Service/Hope Transitional, St. Barnabas Senior Services/Women’s Emergency Fund, The Teen Project, Treasures Ministries, WeSPARK Cancer Support Center, and Women Crowned in Glory/Safe Passage.
“Today’s Ebell Rest Cottage Association is devoted to the same three principles on which it was founded: Relief, Compassion, and Action. R-C-A. These are what our volunteers have provided to the women of Los Angeles County for more than 100 years, and we will continue to provide them in the next century,” said Jones who invited the audience to become part of the RCA committee and help “protect our endowment and choose our next grant recipients” or join the Ebell Social Services Committee which gives hands-on assistance to all of the charities that RCA supports.
The highlight of the annual luncheon is to hear from RCA grant recipients. Selena Lopez, a former client at the Alcoholism Center for Women, spoke about how the organization has helped her transform her life. Lopez, now two years sober, explained how through supportive counseling she regained her self-esteem, the custody of her young son, the opportunity to attend college and a future. She now works as a counselor to young women supporting the work at the Alcoholism Center for Women.
Joy Collins-Brodt, Chief Operations Officer of Treasures Ministries explained how her organization reaches out to women in the sex industry and victims of sex trafficking to help them recover and live healthy, flourishing lives. The organization was founded in 2003 by Harmony Dust, a survivor who earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work sheds light on the impact of a pornified culture and the lives of women trapped within it. Each year, the Treasures team reaches 5,000 women working in over 100 strip clubs in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. They give them gift bags filled with cosmetics, jewelry and the simple message that they are loved, valued and purposed, and that support is available to them. They bring this same message of hope to commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) during their outreaches in juvenile detention centers, as well as in online forums and to an HIV testing site for women in porn.
The last speaker was Debbie Martin, a cancer survivor who spoke about the assistance she received from weSPARK, Cancer Support Center which provides free programs and services, which alleviate the physical and emotional side effects of a cancer diagnosis. Martin shared her personal journey through diagnosis, treatment and now thankfully, remission.
Luncheon co-chairs Julie Barkan and Donna Russell, and their Committee members Kay Balue, Gloria Droguett, Ellen Grosser, and Julie Hogenboom, came up with a spotted theme in honor of 101 years. Ebell Chef Jason picked up on the theme serving an elegant black and white luncheon that concluded with white chocolate mousse and a chocolate brownie. Ebell Scholar Pablo Lenero, a recent Cal Arts graduate, provided piano accompaniment during the social hour.