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Dodgers give back at LA Women's Center

MLB.com @alysonfooter

LOS ANGELES -- Monique Talley's memories as a child watching Dodgers games with her grandfather are crystal clear to this day, and they represent some of her happier times growing up.

"I remember the World Series in 1977," she said. "I remember when Kirk Gibson hit the home run [in '88]. I remember Bulldog [Orel Hershiser], Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith. All of the past players. I remember them all."

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LOS ANGELES -- Monique Talley's memories as a child watching Dodgers games with her grandfather are crystal clear to this day, and they represent some of her happier times growing up.

"I remember the World Series in 1977," she said. "I remember when Kirk Gibson hit the home run [in '88]. I remember Bulldog [Orel Hershiser], Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith. All of the past players. I remember them all."

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Talley's adult life has had its twists and turns, but two things have helped her through the rougher times -- a positive outlook and the assistance of the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles, which in recent years helped her find employment, housing and a better way of life.

Talley was present at the Women's Center on Friday, when Major League Baseball and the Dodgers visited the facility prior to Game 3 of the World Series. The group, which included volunteers from MLB and the Dodgers, prepped and served lunch, packed and distributed hygiene kits and provided Halloween-themed goody bags.

Among the volunteers were former Dodgers Steve Yeager, the 1981 World Series MVP, and Manny Mota, an All-Star in '73. They mingled with several of the approximately 150 women who were present at the center and greeted them as they moved through the cafeteria line at lunch time.

"It's very important that the Dodgers reach out, and I think it's very important for Major League Baseball to reach out and do what we can do collectively together to make the lives of these women who are down, for whatever reason they're here, get back on their feet and get them on a positive note," Yeager said. "We're just happy to be a part of it."

Talley, wearing a World Series T-shirt and cap, excitedly posed for photos with the former Dodgers stars and gushed about the effort Los Angeles made to include the Women's Center in its community outreach efforts.

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"I think it's important because sometimes in sports, you lose the connection with reality," she said. "I thank them wholeheartedly for coming here and providing us not only with T-shirts and bags, but also providing us with the comfort of knowing that they haven't lost touch."

Founded in 1978, the Downtown Women's Center is the only organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness, as well as formerly homeless women. Its mission is to end homelessness for women in greater Los Angeles through housing, wellness and advocacy.

For Denise Smith, who first came to the center in 2014, the facility was life-saving.

"It helped me start on my journey to a new life," she said. "I was a practicing drug addict, and I started on my journey to get clean, and I came here."

Smith, delighted by the Dodgers' visit to the center, said the team's presence there represented a "happy spirit." It is the same mantra she used to work her way out of the tougher times in her life.

"It gives you an inspiration that, 'I can do other things than be tired and depressed and unhappy all the time,'" she said. "The Dodgers came here and said, 'Look, there's joy in life.'

"You don't have to hold your head down all the time. You can laugh."

Before lunch was served, Naomi Rodriguez, the Dodgers' vice president of external affairs and community relations, announced that the team and MLB had made a $5,000 donation to the Women's Center.

The news sparked a loud ovation from the crowd.

"This is part of the World Series," Mota said. "We're happy and proud to be here."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Los Angeles Dodgers