OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Nearly 200 homeless people in Oakland are being treated to a holiday dinner Thursday night, but what makes this a full-circle story is that the meal was organized and paid for by a formerly homeless woman.
Liza Osterdock spent the day inside First Presbyterian Church on Broadway.
“It’s quite fun, I love cooking,” she said. Osterdock knows a lot about the homeless since she used to be homeless herself.
“It is truly the biggest fear anybody can have,” she said. She’s had to battle back from cancer and while she was sick, she lost her job, her marriage and eventually her home.
Weeks later she was hired as a software engineer and was able to get back on her feet and made a promise.
“While I'm alive I want to make sure every homeless person I can help will have a nice warm meal during the holidays. I know what it is like not to be able to put even peanut butter and jelly on the table.”
Osterdock paid for most of the food; hundreds of pounds of chicken, turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and even a cake.
Last year was the first time she put on the holiday dinner where 150 came. This year she's expecting even more.
Members of the church are volunteering their help as well.
“Liza's an angel. You should define your life by what you give and not what you get. Liza's a great example of that,” said Bill Coburn with First Presbyterian Church.
“It's a good inspiration and motivation for us to change; maybe we could change and get off the street,” said Charles Brown, a homeless man who will be among the dinner’s guests. He said he’s been on the street for the past five years.
And that’s exactly what Osterdock hopes her story will bring to others; that even someone knocked down can still get back up.
“We can't change the world in one day. But we can do whatever we can to help out,” said Osterdock.