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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The 2014 holiday season has officially arrived, and while many of us are busily planning schedules around parties and shopping, more and more of our neighbors are facing formidable food and resource shortages.

“Over the last 24 months, we’ve seen the monthly average number of people served meals in our region increase from 80,000 per month to 90,000-plus,” said Chantel Schuering, community relations director for the FIND Food Bank. “We get those numbers directly from each organization that partners with FIND to acquire food resources, and then we aggregate them here.”

Those partner organizations include almost all of the agencies who provide meals on a regular basis to those in need of food assistance. One such partner is The Well in the Desert, based in Palm Springs.

“I wish we had fewer customers, but we don’t, unfortunately,” remarked Arlene Rosenthal, president of the board at The Well. “And around Thanksgiving and Christmas, we get a lot of people who don’t use our services regularly, but at the holidays, find it difficult to provide totally for themselves.”

While the realities of life can be discouraging this time of year—especially to those working to lessen the impact of hunger on a daily basis—the holidays can be a time of happiness and encouragement as well.

“We usually get about 1,500 people on Christmas Day, and these are a combination of the working poor, seniors on fixed incomes and the homeless,” Rosenthal said. “We open the doors at noon, and we have hundreds of people waiting to attend. They walk down this aisle formed by volunteers on each side who are shaking hands and high-fivin’ with the kids and seniors and the homeless. I’ve seen people in tears. It just brings out the best in everybody, and it’s become my favorite event.”

At Martha’s Village and Kitchen in Indio, the demand for holiday assistance increases as well.

“We certainly do see a huge, huge increase of folks coming on the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Since they don’t have families or others to go to, they utilize our services,” said K. Magdalena Andrasevits, the president and CEO. “That’s why it’s so important that the community comes together, as they always have. So I always say thank you, thank you, thank you to the community for helping us to do what we can to help our neighbors in need.”

However, Andrasevits points out that hunger and a need for help aren’t just seasonal issues. “I probably echo every other service provider when I say that the need isn’t just at the holiday season; it is year-round.”

For Mike Thompson, executive director of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs (which also operates the NestEggg Food Bank), one focus of his organization’s holiday assistance is on people’s emotional and psychological needs.

“What I would like to call attention to is our mental-health program, and specifically, our low-to-no-cost counseling services for older adults,” Thompson said. “The holiday season can be stressful times for those living alone who might feel isolated, so we’d like to highlight this counseling program and make sure that people understand this help is available.”

Thompson also mentioned specific holiday-time events that are being held by The Center. “We’ve got a ‘Paws and Claus’ event where people can bring their pet to see Santa Claus, and that takes place (in December). These events are designed to bring people together.”

How tough is it for assistance organizations to attract needed funds today?

“You know nonprofits are always in need of funding support, whether that be in-kind donations, volunteer time or financial resources,” Thompson said. “As people begin to think about their end-of-the-year tax-giving, we like to remind them that The Center is here, and remind them of the programs we have here that benefit the valley’s LGBT community, and ask that they consider supporting us.”

We asked Schuering of FIND how concerned she and her colleagues are about the increasing demand for services.

“It’s a constant state of concern,” she said. “But when you feed 90,000-plus people a month, no single donation will make or break your effort. When demand goes up, as we’ve seen recently, we’re always trying to connect people with other resources so that food doesn’t have to be the thing they give up in their lives. We do a lot of work connecting people with the food-stamp program, for instance. Some of the crazy rumors people hear are just horrible, and it’s enough to keep them from applying for funds that are set aside for them to use for food.”

In closing, Schuering offered this sobering holiday thought. “Every month, there are tens of thousands of Coachella Valley residents going hungry. Every month. We only have 440,000 residents year-around, so if 90,000 of them are hungry every month, that’s one out of every five of our neighbors. Those are numbers that you cannot ignore.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO HELP:

FIND Food Bank: 760-775-3663; www.findfoodbank.org

The Well in the Desert: 760-327-8577; www.wellinthedesert.org

Martha’s Village and Kitchen: 760-347-4741; marthasvillage.org

LGBT Community Center of the Desert: 760-416-7790; www.thecenterps.org

Published in Local Issues

Crave Dessert Restaurant Re-Opening in New Digs

Crave, which its owners tout as Palm Springs’ first dessert restaurant, is reopening in a bigger space at 6 p.m., Friday, Oct. 18.

The restaurant—which opened in 2011 at 390 N. Palm Canyon Drive—has a new home at 301 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 200. The new spot is on the second story and features two patios. Customers will now be able to enjoy tasty dessert treats, coffee, beer and wine while overlooking the goings-on at the Amado Road intersection.

Crave does not only have new digs; it also has some new owners: Original owner Davy Aker has been joined by Raymond McCallister and Larry Abel, co-owners of businesses including Abel McCallister Designs and the Party Lab.

Crave will be open Wednesday through Sunday. Watch www.craveps.com for more info.

Fantasy Springs Launches Cupcake Challenge

Cupcakes for a good cause—has there ever been a sweeter clause?

Forgive the bad poetry (or whatever the heck that was); we’re excited about the second annual Fantasy Cupcake Challenge, taking place from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 17, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio.

Here’s how it works: Pros and non-pros alike can enter (by Sunday, Oct. 20) for prizes up to $750. Entrants then bake up a whole bunch of cupcakes (including four full-size entries and at least 300 tastes) and bring them in. The general public is invited to enjoy those tastes—tickets are $30, or $10 for kids age 3 to 11—and vote for their favorites while perusing a silent auction and enjoying live music.

Best of all: Proceeds go to Well in the Desert. In that spirit, anyone bringing three canned/nonperishable goods to the box office on the day of the event gets $5 off admission.

Yum. And yay!

Get more details at www.fantasyspringsresort.com/cupcakes.

Purple Room Update: Opening Planned for Oct. 24

More details have emerged about the revival of the Purple Room at Club Trinidad.

As we’ve previously reported, TRIO owners Tony Marchese and Mark Van Laanen have taken over management of the space at 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, which has had a controversial year. Well, we now have an opening date: Thursday, Oct. 24, at 3 p.m.

The supper club and lounge will offer live music booked by Gary and Joan Gand, of the Gand Band, and will feature food service until midnight Tuesday through Thursday, as well as Sunday—with service going until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

“Our Continental menu will have a mix of everything,” Van Laanen said in a news release. “From deviled eggs and Sloppy Joe sliders to fresh seafood and steaks, we’ll have delicious options for every palate.”

Get more details at purpleroompalmsprings.com.

In Brief

The Miramonte Resort and Spa, 45000 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, is launching a series of wine events for the season. “Le Serate di Vino” events will feature wines complemented with the food of executive chef Robert Nyerick; the first event, on Friday, Oct. 25, will be the Oyster Bay progressive wine dinner, with five New Zealand wines paired with hors d’oeuvres, three savory courses and dessert, all for $75. Call 760-341-7200 for reservations or more info. … Dragon Sushi, in the 68300 block of East Palm Canyon in Cathedral City, is now open. As reported in this space before, it’s the sister restaurant of the much-loved Dragon Sushi in Indio. … Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta, 1775 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, held a Make My Pizza Challenge contest last month. Almost 200 folks entered, and the finalists were vetted on Sept. 19. The winning pizza: Christopher Giusto’s eggplant Parmesan pizza, featuring red sauce, breaded eggplant medallions, roast garlic, basil and ricotta cheese (pictured above). That’s not the only news from the Funkey family, which owns Giuseppe’s (as well as Bar in downtown Palm Springs): Next to Giuseppe’s is their soon-to-open Smoke Tree Supper Club. Watch for further details. … Bernie’s Lounge and Supper Club, featuring food by chef Jason Moffitt, will be opening soon at 292 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. … Earlier this year, a Kickstarter campaign went live with this pitch: “My name is Kelly McFall. With the help of my brother Kreg and my mother Jan, we are opening a restaurant in the El Paseo shopping district of Palm Desert." It went on: "Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe will be a full service breakfast and lunch farmhouse cafe with an urban twist.” The needed $50,000 was raised, and now the café, at 73575 El Paseo Drive, is open; details at www.wilmafrieda.com.

Published in Restaurant & Food News

On June 4, the world lost Joey Covington, a former Jefferson Airplane drummer and a prominent valley resident.

On Saturday, Aug. 31, Ross Management and Productions, in conjunction with Alvin Taylor Music, will be throwing a benefit concert in Covington’s name at The Hood.

Originally from Johnstown, Pa., Covington started playing drums at the age of 10 and was entirely self-taught. In his teens, he played professionally in Johnstown, which eventually led to gigs with a number of acts that opened shows for the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, and others.

In the late 1960s, he joined Jefferson Airplane, along with the Jefferson Airplane spinoff, Hot Tuna. He was also a member of Jefferson Starship.

On June 4, Covington lost control of his Honda Civic and crashed into a wall near Belardo Road and Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. The accident took his life. 

David Ross, of Ross Management and Productions, has fond memories of Covington.

“He was funny, kind and always wanted to be a part of anything going on,” said Ross via email. “He tried to help me with a benefit concert not long before he died. He spent a lot of time helping me, along with his wife, Lauren Taines. Ironically, (the band for the benefit was) going to be called the Joey Covington All-Star Band. Some of the members of this show were going to be in that one.”

After Covington’s death, Ross felt that doing a benefit in his name would be a proper sendoff, and he found ample help in putting the show together.

“He was a well-known and accomplished musician, as well as a nice guy,” Ross said. “It was a must-do for me and those who were close to him; we decided he needed a proper sendoff. I began the hard tedious task of getting a venue, tickets and advertising. It started with the great help of Brian Michaelz at Michaelz Media. He got us the live streaming, created the website, promo videos, etc.”

A portion of the show’s proceeds will go to Lauren Taines to cover funeral expenses; some will go to former Jefferson Starship guitarist Slick Aguilar to assist with the expenses of a liver transplant; and 23 percent will go to Well in the Desert, an organization that provides food to the needy.

Ross said Well in the Desert was one of the organizations that he and Covington had plans to assist.

“I’ve personally done a lot of work with the Well in the Desert,” Ross said. “A lot of hungry and poor people out in this area need help; Joey was helping me with an event for them, so I knew he would have agreed to help them.”

The lineup for the show features well-known musicians from various bands and other figures, all of whom were friends of Covington. Peter Albin and Sam Andrew of Big Brother and the Holding Company will be appearing, as will Lynn Sorensen from Bad Company, and Jimi Hendrix’ cousin, Riki Hendrix—just to name a few.

“(Lauren Taines) handed me a slew of Joey’s friends and their phone numbers, and we reached out to those musicians,” Ross said. “We had a ton of musicians ask to be a part of it. They’re all playing for Joey at no cost. They just want to say so long to a great guy and awesome performer.”

The Joey Covington Tribute Concert takes place at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 31, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Tickets are $20; only 300 will be sold, and they’re available via the concert website, at The Musicians Outlet in Palm Desert, and at The Hood. The concert will also be streamed via the website for $6. For more information, visit www.covingtontribute.michaelzmedia.com.

Published in Previews