Santa Clarita resident Wade Trimmer still remembers the moment that inspired him to help those less fortunate.
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It happened 20 years ago, during a chance encounter outside of a movie theater in Westwood.
“I met a young homeless girl whom I just kind of responded to,” Trimmer said.
“She walked up to me and asked me for food (while) while I was waiting for a movie,” Trimmer said. “I had never met a homeless kid before, and I sat down with her and heard her story, and what I kind of say is that it ruined me, but in the best of ways.
“The idea of a 12-year-old living on the streets was hard to live with,” he said, and he responded by volunteering.
Trimmer lives in Valencia and is director for the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission, after having worked with several Santa Clarita Valley organizations, such as the SCV Youth Project with friend Steve LePore, another Santa Clarita resident. LePore also co-founded My Friend’s Place, a Hollywood shelter for homeless teens that still exists today.
The mission’s family shelter on Saticoy in North Hollywood provides a fresh start to homeless families by offering up to 90 days of free overnight shelter, biblical counseling and guidance toward social and economic improvement, according to the organization’s website.
The group is also making a $6 million push to build a permanent year-round facility in Northridge, Trimmer said.
He stopped by KHTS AM-1220 studio Wednesday to share his experiences and how everyone can pitch in to help those less fortunate, especially around the holidays.
“This is the busiest time of the year for us,” Trimmer said, adding that 70 percent of all donations come in at this time of the year.
“What’s amazing is we get to see so much generosity at this time, it just blows us away,” he said.
Tony DePesa, a former resident of the shelter, shared his impactful story of how he became involved, and continues to volunteer, now that he has a home the organization helped his family find.
“I started as a resident around my first year of high school,” said the 16-year-old DePesa, who now lives in East Los Angeles.
On Saturday, Tony hopes to restore a sense of self-respect for more than 100 homeless families by giving parents the ability to shop for free gifts for their kids at the Rescue Mission’s first-ever Holiday Gift Store.
“I try to go back as much as a I can, and try to help, because when I was living there, I know how hard it was to live there,” DePesa said.”And people need the hope when they’re in the shelter, and I try to do my best to help and give them hope and encouragement whenever I can.”
“It was nice getting to know volunteers,” Tony said, “and hearing how there’s options out there waiting for people if they want it bad enough.”
Tony also shared a “list of gifts,” that was inspired by his experiences with the shelter.
Tony’s List of Gifts:
1. Give the gift of dignity through clothing donations
a. Help boost someone’s self esteem by donating gently used clothes
b. When you feel look good, you feel good and your self-confidence goes up.
2. Give the gift of hope through volunteering
a. Inspire a homeless family by spending 1:1 time interacting with them and sharing your life story
b. Volunteering is a great way to show love to those who are less fortune
3. Give the gift of empowerment through resources
a. Are you looking to hire employees? Partner with local homeless shelters and offer full-time jobs to veterans, moms or dads of homeless families
4. Give the gift of ownership through gift card donations
a. Help shelters purchase food, household items and cleaning supplies for families living at shelters.
b. Empower people to take ownership of their life and pride in where they live by teaching families responsibility. At the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission homeless families staying at the shelter are given daily chores and responsibilities, including: cooking, cleaning, dishes and laundry.
5. Give the gift of safety through donations
a. Over 50% of guests that stay at the SFV Rescue Mission are children 12 years of age and younger
b. Your donations give children, mothers, fathers and families a safe place to stay.
6. Give the gift of awareness through sharing
a. Share Tony’s story and bring awareness to the real face of homeless
b. Annually, more than 1.6 million children and hundreds of thousands of American families become homeless every year
c. Homeless is not just people living on the streets. It’s families and children living in cars, motels and shelters who are trying to live through homelessness.
7. Give the gift of being “Home Again”
a. Donate, volunteer your time or talent, or partner with the SFVRM in building a 90-bed “Home Again” family shelter
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Source: Santa Clarita News