The SCV Homeless Shelter was transformed into a delightful English tea house on May 11 when Bridge to Home held its inaugural Women’s Tea. Just as enchanting were the smiling faces of 14 local homeless women who attended the joyful event.
Amid vibrant fresh floral arrangements, vintage silver teapots and dishes, and an abundant selection of traditional tea fare, the female clients actively participated in the sumptuous soiree. Shelter staff, Bridge to Home Foundation board members and other community volunteers contributed through food and monetary donations, decorations, attentive tea serving and education, and raffles. Also, among the activities: fresh corsages for each woman upon entering the room, all compliments of Bloomies Florist, and a summer hat creation workshop.
The clients, each currently receiving Bridge to Home case management toward successfully getting out of homelessness and into jobs (where individually possible), savored the milieu as well as the menu, which featured delectable tea sandwiches, lemon and berry scones with jams and clotted cream, salads, and assortments of rich desserts and flavorful teas.
Cherise Moore, member of both Bridge to Home and the William S. Hart Union High School District boards, noted that while the event was being held the day before Mother’s Day, it was dedicated to bringing joy to every woman, whether a mother or not.
“We’re celebrating all of you, today,” Moore announced.
Upon distributing tea etiquette handouts, Moore provided an engaging overview of those details, from serving, to stirring, to relishing the distinguished ritual. The women listened intently and followed her every guide point.
“I love afternoon tea,” said Moore, who has taught tea etiquette for a decade through various organizations, special gatherings, and well-known tea houses. “It’s so enjoyable and relaxing. And it’s a time to not think about anything else but that enjoyment.”
A pleasure for everyone
Shelter Manager Nicole Feast-Williams hailed the inaugural Women’s Tea as a pleasure for everyone, including those who helped with the event.
“As I left the shelter dining room, several staff members were huddled at the kitchen door. They were just gleeful as they discussed the look on one guest’s face. One said, ‘We’ve never seen her smile before!’”
Among the many positive quotes that tea party attendees offered:
“Brought to tears.”
“Everything was beautiful.”
“Nice gathering, and I enjoyed learning tea etiquette.”
“I enjoyed making the hats. Memorable. We were treated like ladies.”
“This is like heaven to me. This is what my face looks like when I’m in heaven.”
With respect to confidentiality, all attendees’ names and photos have been excluded from this article. Bridge to Home provides support services — including an emergency winter shelter, case management, housing navigation, and medical clinics — that help individuals and families in the Santa Clarita Valley transition out of homelessness. Bridge to Home is funded through contracts with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, subcontracts with Los Angeles Family Housing, private and public grants, and extensive in-kind donations and participation from the local community. Offering hope, help and change, Bridge to Home is working toward creating a permanent year-round shelter in the SCV. To see how you can help with that goal, and learn more about Bridge to Home, go to www.btohome.org