ML - Vegas Magazine

2013 - Issue 7 - November

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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Page 103 of 131

GINA GAVAN: HELPING THE HOMELESS There are some people who have a knack for bringing others together. In the case of Gina Gavan, that may be an understatement. She is the founder and director of the wildly popular Project Dinner Table, where once a month, at different venues and benefiting different causes, renowned Las Vegas chefs serve up to 200 dinner guests at one long table in an effort to deepen community ties. Less visible, perhaps, is the work she has done since 2008 with HELP of Southern Nevada (the acronym stands for Housing, Emergency Services, Life Skills, and Prevention) to give people the skills that can make them self-sufficient. An arm of the organization that seeks to eradicate homelessness is particularly close to her heart. "Homelessness is part of my life because my brother has been homeless since he was 15," says Gavan. She helped start a mentoring program in HELP's youth center, renamed for Shannon West Redwine, a friend and advocate for the homeless, who passed away in 2012 after a five-year battle with breast cancer. Gavan's work with the center isn't an attempt to heal family wounds, she says. "You can't help someone if they don't want to help themselves. Mostly these kids didn't have a choice: They were molested by their mother's boyfriend or come from a family with five kids that can only feed four." Collaborating with various agencies, the youth center provides substance abuse counseling, vocational training, and lessons in peer socialization and money management, among other skills. "A lot of them want to get an education," Gavan says. "They want to succeed." 102 VEGASMAGAZINE.COM 096-105_V_F_VegasGives_Nov13.indd 102 10/23/13 10:59 AM

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