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Firm's Donation to Keep Kitchen for Homeless Open

September 14, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A cash donation from a storage rental company has saved an organization that provides free meals for the homeless on L.A.'s skid row.

Glendale-based Public Storage Inc. bought the property next to the Frontline Foundation's Van Nuys warehouse four months ago, forcing the charitable organization to find a new home.

The foundation operates on a shoestring budget of $40,000 a year, funded mainly by donors who give $3 to $10 each a month. Every day, volunteers prepare food to serve nearly 200 homeless people.

Ray Castellani, Frontline founder and a former skid row dweller, said he thought the $6,000 cost to relocate would cause the foundation to close down.

The $5,000 donation by Public Storage "frees us up to have the peace of mind to continue fulfilling this little calling for this little kitchen," Castellani said. "I'm flabbergasted at this great turnaround. I am looking at it as another intervention of something a little bigger than all of us."

Two weeks ago, Castellani signed a lease agreement for a new space at Tampa Avenue and Parthenia Street in Northridge.

The 67-year-old Castellani said he feared he might have to shut down the Frontline kitchen until money was raised for the move. Public Storage, his former neighbor, came to the organization's aid with a $5,000 donation.

"We're sympathetic to the plight of the kitchen," said Carl Phelps, a senior vice president who oversees real estate transactions for Public Storage. "They are doing a good service, and we want to accommodate them any way we can."

This is not the first time the foundation has faced possible closure. It nearly shut down in 1993 when donations dwindled. The group rebounded after a fund drive, said Castellani, who in 1995 received the President's Service Award from President Clinton.

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