Meet the Center’s Dina Valenzuela!

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Being a part of the Los Angeles LGBT Center is something special and my colleagues are like family to me. We have been here for each other throughout this entire COVID-19 pandemic and continue to support one another daily.

What I love the most about my job in Culinary Arts is having the opportunity to be of service every day and to make sure that the meals we create and serve are healthy, delicious, and nutritious for our youth and seniors. I’ve always said, pandemic or not, no person or family should ever have to go hungry.

The culinary staff is not able to work remotely so our department has had to show up every day. We serve over 400 meals a day and have done so throughout this entire pandemic.

My favorite moment last year was providing a full Thanksgiving dinner with mini pumpkin pies for our seniors to pick-up or have delivered. Our kitchen staff and students worked so hard in preparing those meals and it was wonderful to be a part of the planning team and to see how excited seniors were to receive their special meal.

I started at the Center as a temporary employee in Facilities where I helped manage parking. A new position opened up in Culinary Arts and since I have a culinary and events background, I was hired for it. I was in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.

The one major duty that quickly developed was managing Pride Pantry during its first year in 2020. It was a huge undertaking but so needed given the severity of the pandemic and its effects on food insecurity for our clients. It was a real honor being a part of Pride Pantry, to see its growth, and to be an advocate for this important service that the Center provides to its clients.

I am now focused on all administrative tasks related to our kitchen and Liberation Coffee House operations including helping with meal planning and the managing of the meal counts for all our youth and senior meals. I also assist in managing our Department of Aging contract which includes meal planning and nutrition analysis for our daily senior lunches.

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Hometown: Los Angeles

Year Started Working at Center: 2020

Staff Position: Culinary Arts – Administrative & Events Coordinator

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