Providing meals, showers, housing and medical support for homeless and low-income Santa Clarita Valley residents four days a week, Bridge to Home kicked off their Feeding It Forward program for the season on Tuesday night.
The program is now in its third year of operation, and the nonprofit organization made brand new showers available to attendees after receiving a donation of eight shower units from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. Showers were available in the past, but the new ones made available on Tuesday replaced the old ones.
Located at Bridge to Home’s winter shelter site, the program provides up to 40 people in need with dinner and a sack lunch and as many canned goods as they like to take home for the next day, as well as medical support and case management to find them housing solutions.
“Providing people that are impacted by financial trouble with a well-balanced meal for themselves or their families provides value for any home,” Bridge to Home Director of Operations DiNesha Jackson said.
Tuesday, volunteers served up shepherd’s pie, corn, salad, bread and cookies to hungry visitors.
The program started by offering meals, expanded last year to offer case management and is premiering medical care and the new showers this year. A nurse practitioner will be available on some days to offer referrals and help for attendees.
“We try to connect and advertise with any people who need a warm meal,” Jackson said. “Knowing there is a resource I’m sure is a relief for families.”
For many families who are low-income, they are forced to make a choice between housing and feeding themselves, the director said.
Jackson said she anticipates the program will be busier than past years.
“The goal this year is to grow the capacity,” she said.
Moving between his parents’ house, staying with friends and living in Bridge to Home’s shelter, Matthew Medina had used the organization’s services before attending Feeding It Forward on Tuesday. Medina once stayed in the shelter for four seasons, but most recently stayed with a friend for a month.
When he runs out of food stamps, Medina said he wouldn’t mind getting food from Bridge to Home again, but does not want to have to rely on them for housing.
“When I’m on the street, I’m pretty hungry,” Medina said. “I’ll come back for dinner, but I hope I don’t have to come back for the shelter.”
Noemi Torres, an 18-year-old who lives in Central Park, brought her seven-month-old daughter for dinner. This was the first time Torres had utilized Bridge to Home’s services, as she heard about the food program from Randi Baldwin, a volunteer with Santa Clarita United Methodist church.
“We really don’t get to eat throughout the day,” Torres said. “This is the first day I’ve been able to eat without paying for it.
Usually, Torres and her daughter only eat when they are given money. She said she plans to come back every day Feeding It Forward is open.
Baldwin, the volunteer who brought Torres, said she has seen people she grew up with in the valley get assistance from Bridge to Home. Members of her church have been helping the homeless for years through partnerships with Bridge to Home and Family Promise.
“The need is huge,” Baldwin said.
Feeding It Forward takes place Tuesday through Friday from 5:45 to 8:30 p.m. from May through October.
The winter shelter was open until March 30 and will reopen on Nov. 20 this year.
For community members who would like to donate, Bridge to Home is currently accepting travel sized personal items for hygiene kits, such as combs, shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
“We ask people to give from their heart,” Jackson said.
Additionally, Bridge to Home needs volunteers to pick weeds at the winter shelter in anticipation of fire season.
The shelter is located on 23031 Drayton Street in Saugus and the administrative office is located at 23752 Newhall Avenue.
For more information, call (661) 254-4663, visit btohome.com or email [email protected].
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