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San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission lends a helping hand to those in need

NORTHRIDGE, CA - San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission is a private nonprofit aiding those living on the streets. For quite some time they have offered outreach programs, a temporary shelter and rehabilitation resources.

Photo, Savanna Birchfield

Los Angeles County saw a 12.7% rise in homelessness from 2019 to 2020. This percentage does not include an increase in displacement during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a continuous rise is visually present.

The rescue mission has more than 90 beds available for people in need. It offers amenities along with a living room and cafeteria space.

Marilyn Sappington, the organization’s Community Relations Coordinator, said they try their hardest to make their residents feel comfortable.

She said, “You know, you and I have a home to go to, I know I do. Our guests that live here, this is actually their home so we try and make it as home-like as we can.”

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) learned that more than 4,000 youth were also homeless in LA County during 2020. The San Fernando Valley shelter offers a computer lab and playground for the younger people living in their facility.

Sappington said that the shelter does it’s best to offer children a calm and secure environment where they can play and learn. She added that many children often go hungry.

“When they’re staying here at the rescue mission, they know that they’re getting fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They know that they’re gonna come home and have a meal,” said Sappington.

The nonprofit partners with the Chrysalis organization which helps people find jobs and stay employed.

“When we do have a guest that’s looking for a position, we will call them and they will help with interview preparation, resume writing, and they also have a temporary agency within their organization that helps people find jobs directly,” said Sappington.

San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission has a mobile shower program as part of their outreach work in the community.

“We actually have five church sites where we have a trailer that has two showers inside of it… we actually give our homeless community an eight-minute hot shower, they get a free meal, they also get a fresh pair of underwear, socks, and a clean towel to dry off with,” said Sappington.

She thinks it is important to show those in need that they have a support system, whether they are in a shelter or on the streets.

Sappington emphasized that programs like what the shelter offers are “an opportunity for [us] to show them that they are just loved, that we’re not forgetting about them.”

Video, Savanna Birchfield

By Savanna Birchfield

With contribution from Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority

Photo, Savanna Birchfield

Video, Savanna Birchfield


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