The “Humor Helps” fundraiser for the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter headlined by comedian Michael Loftus at Blessed Kateri Catholic Church Sunday night raised about $5,000 as organizers prepare for the shelter’s Open House on Wednesday and its opening for the season on Thursday, Dec. 1.
“We don’t have all the bills in and all the money counted yet, but this time we raised in the neighborhood of about $5,000, which will be a direct contribution to keep the shelter running and provide services to our clients,” said Tim Davis, executive director of the Santa Clarita Community Development Corporation.
(UPDATE: On Tuesday night, Davis confirmed the net proceeds tally was $5,198.)
The winter of 2011-2012 will mark the 15th year the non-profit group has operated the local shelter, providing hot meals, a safe environment and important job and medical resources to the local homeless population during the coldest months of the year.
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With popular local cover band Blue Sky providing music before the show, between acts and after, opening comics Jason Love and Eric Schwartz warmed up the approximately 180-person audience for headliner Loftus (pictured at right).
The star of his own hit Comedy Central special and a former writer/producer on George Lopez’s hit sitcom (not Lopez’s ill-fated late-night talk show), Loftus is starting this week as a writer/producer on the new Charlie Sheen sitcom “Anger Management.” Loftus’ half-hour “Humor Helps” set was very funny without being profane, and he had many among the audience laughing throughout.
“I thought it was good — I thought they were going to throw a lotta curve balls, but I was ready for that,” Loftus quipped in a post-set interview. “I’ve been spending a lot of time in the batting cage and I thought we had the bat on the ball and put a lot of points on the board, and just kind of keeping our offense out there as long as long as we can (laughs).”
Did he feel the pressure to really bring it on Sunday night? “I did! There was a lot of pressure,” Loftus said. “It’s a great event, especially when it’s a fundraiser. That’s when you really, really, really want to do well. You want it next year to be bigger so they can help more people and raise more money, so I think we did that, and we had a good time.”
Building A New ‘Bridge To Home’
In his brief introductory remarks at the benefit, Davis (pictured at left) previewed a name change for the shelter that he will formally announce at Wednesday’s open house, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the shelter campus at 23031 Drayton Street, Newhall 91321, off Railroad Avenue.
“We want to start letting the community know that the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter is changing to a more specific program based on services to the client, to help more clients get back into jobs and houses as quickly as possible,” Davis told KHTS Tuesday. “So we’re changing the name. It will no longer be called the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter. You’ll soon see that name fade away and the new name, Bridge to Home, start coming up. Similarly, the Santa Clarita Community Development Corporation will start doing business as the Bridge to Home.
“All this to reflect our new purpose for a year-round program with a lot of client services made available to the clients to help them as soon as possible work themselves back into a job and back into a house and no longer need our services,” Davis said.
Shelter Seeks 3,000 ‘Friends’
Toward that end, the SCCDC has established the “Friends of the Shelter” program, which invites locals to donate $10 a month to help fund shelter operations.
“When we go to a year-round program, the need for the shelter cash management, our cash budget, is going to about triple,” Davis said. “So where right now we run at about $150,000 a year in cash, we’re going to have to go up to more like $450,000-$500,000 a year in cash we need.
“One of the ideas we have dealt with ever since we started (15 years ago) was maximum community involvement, where we’d like to have as many people in Santa Clarita participate in bring meals, driving our vans, being hosts in the evening and hosts in the morning,” Davis said. “And just an extension of that, we’d like to have 3,000 people in Santa Clarita become Friends of the Shelter by donating $10 a month to the shelter operations, so that when we get to that place where we can open up for a year-around program, pretty much of the first $300,000 of the cash we have to generate every year is generated by 3,000 community participants you know right from Santa Clarita.”
At the shelter open house, SCCDC board members and shelter staff will give tours of the facility and answer questions about homeless services designed not only to provide immediate aid, but also to help end the cycle of homelessness.
“This is a great opportunity for anyone who has yet to see our Drayton Street location or anyone who is interested in learning more about Santa Clarita’s homeless services,” Davis said. “We want everyone to feel welcome to stop by for any amount of time. We have a demanding year ahead of us and we want to invite the community into the rewarding work we do daily.”
For more information about the winter shelter, Bridge to Home and Friends of the Shelter, email Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org, call the shelter hotline at (661) 259-1298 or visit www.santaclaritashelter.com, where a list of current needs is posted.
Photos: Stephen K. Peeples