The spirit of giving lasts all year for
Julie Ann Twyman, who spends her time coordinating a number of programs benefiting
The mother of two runs a catering business, takes culinary
courses at American River College and reaches out to the community for donations.
years ago, after shedding the weight of a troublesome past, Twyman devoted herself
to bringing improvements to the homeless and needy citizens of Sacramento. With
sponsorship from the Sacramento First Church of the Nazarene, she began with a
coat and backpack collection drive. When many other similar drives began around
the community, Twyman refocused her programs on the needs of the homeless that
other drives were overlooking.
Thanksgiving to the Streets was born. This
event was a way to bring a full meal and donation baskets directly to needy families.
Everything was donated from the turkey dinners to the baskets set about
town that collected donations. Some years shes had between 80 and 100 volunteers
helping her feed the community.
Next, Twyman began the Sacramento Blanket
Drive. For this she asked the community to donate blankets and socks and other
things to keep the homeless warm during the winter.
Starbucks, Twyman said, helped us collect almost 1,000 blankets one
year from a single store.
She soon began organizing another holiday
event, Christmas Baskets to the Streets, which she coordinated with a donation
program named Sacramento Poverty Reach Back. For this drive, Twyman asked for
hygiene products like shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors and other
such staples of comfortable living.
Most recently, Twyman began
the One Can CAN Do drive, aimed at collecting canned foods to be distributed through
the holiday baskets. The name of the program was meant to inspire everyone to
donate something, no matter how small.
One can goes a long way,
she said. If everybody could contribute one can, we could feed a multitude
With all of these programs collecting donations year-round,
Twyman has found it difficult to maintain them on her own. Most people call
to volunteer two weeks before Thanksgiving, she said, but we need
people more than just once a year. The volunteering really starts in January.
had been using donated space in a building to host these holiday events that consisted
of a fresh home-cooked meal for the community, live music, raffles, crafts tables,
donation distribution, prayer gatherings and information about where to get free
It was really wonderful, Twyman said.
We had stations for the food and for the donations. There was a stage for
the band. We had prizes, too, for vacations that people could win. And places
where people could gather and pray together.
In 2008 the building
owner lost the property, and Twyman had to make a few changes to her programs.
She said she is still looking for a new building to keep her various community
events going and would only require the space for about a week in order to set
up decorations and bring in supplies.
If anyone were able to donate
their space, she said, they would greatly help serve the community.
continues to be a big part of the Sacramento First Church of the Nazarene homeless
ministry, and is busy getting the word out about her donation programs.
Hernandez, an administrator from the Nazarene Church, said, This is a passion
for Julie. She gives up lots of her time to help others and does a wonderful job
of knowing resources for people in need.
Hernandez said the Thanksgiving
to the Streets event on its own helps about 100 families, and with Twymans
involvement and the various other programs she has created, the number of families
aided year-round is likely closer to 400 or 500.
Twyman said she loves helping
others and seeing expressions on their faces of joy, transformation and
happiness, knowing they were loved and that someone cared. People feel honored
and valued for who they are.
Its completely life-changing,
Twyman said, for me and for those we help.
how some of those she has served and helped over the years now come back to be
on the other end to help serve. The homeless are now working, in school,
making life changes.
Hernandez commented that Julie has been an enormous
help for us. She is getting so busy with her other programs, but she still works
with the food closet to help bring donations.
lifestyle is not without challenges, however.
Twyman said she suffers daily
from fibromyalgia and spinal neuropathy. This includes swelling, spinal problems
and pain in her hands and arms. Some days she has to use a walker to get around
and really relies on her family and her employees to help her.
definitely in the wrong line of work, she said with a laugh. Sometimes
after a catering job Im down for three days.
son, John, and 18-year-old daughter, Jessica, have been helping her for the past
eight years by cooking, prepping and serving food as well as gathering donations
from the community.
Id be lost without my children, she
said. When Im down and out, theyre my lifeline.
was not born disabled. Her disabilities were the result of injuries from physical
abuse in her past. Now she uses her disability as fuel to continue giving back
to the community, to prove that it doesnt matter where you are in
life, everyone has something to contribute.
She spends a lot of her
time working at Two Moms Catering, which is going on its third year of business
and growing in popularity. She learned to cook at home and is currently taking
classes in the culinary program at American River College. The profit from Two
Moms helps fund her various community donation programs.
Moms Catering operates in kitchen space rented from
Appeal at 2135 Dale Ave.
volunteer for or get more information
about this years Thanksgiving
to the Streets
and Christmas Baskets
to the Streets events,
Twyman at email@example.com.