From Hollywood to helping hands

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By Taylor Villanueva
Signal Staff Writer

Laurie Ender has been making an impact in the Santa Clarita Valley since she first moved here in 1992 with her husband and oldest son.

She attended Pepperdine University, and then lived in Studio City before moving to the area. Like many, the couple’s desire to raise a family was a big driver.

“This was a perfect place to raise a family,” she says, “so we moved out here.”

And since her move to the SCV, she’s been involved in everything from major television production to City Council to now making sure other families in the Santa Clarita Valley have every opportunity they can through her work with local nonprofits.


Into to Hollywood

While at Pepperdine University, Ender studied to become a sports broadcaster. But an internship at “Entertainment Tonight” changed her career path altogether .

“I ended up getting a job there and staying there for 10 years,” she says. “It was a crazy experience.”

After that, a new opportunity arose for her. Ender’s boss at “Entertainment Tonight” left for a development deal at NBC.

“My boss called me and said, ‘I’ll double your salary if you come help me start this show.’”

That long-running show is now known as “Access Hollywood.” Ender says the two of them spent about a year developing the show — coming up with the title, theme, set, hosts and all the details. She worked there for three years before getting pregnant with her third child.

“Working on a daily show, there’s no break,” explains Ender.

So she left work with the plan to watch her kids and take them to sports practices and other extracurricular activities.


Volunteer life

“That was hard,” she said. “I never intended to be a stay at home mom. I stayed home for one day, then decided to volunteer.”

Ender eventually became president of the SCV Council PTA.

In 2008, she joined the City Council, serving as mayor from 2011-12.

She explains how during her time on the council, she pushed for the expansion of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.

“It is important we have the best hospital facilities we could,” she said. “I really fought for the expansion. You can’t make everyone happy, but you have to look at the greater good and I’m so proud.”

She says the facilities are so much better now, and that has attracted a new group of trained staff.

“We have new, young doctors and specialists who never would have come out here if it was just a little hometown hospital,” she added.

As for Ender’s career in city politics, she puts to rest the idea of running again.

“I don’t really like politics, but I love community service,” she explains.

“I won’t run again. I’m too busy,” she said, explaining her involvement in Family Promise. “But I want to use my talents and treasures to make an impact.”

So she began her work with Family Promise.

Family Promise has a mission to “help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence through a community-based response,” according to the national website.


Family Promise

Ender explained how she got information from Family Promise National that showed there were about 800 homeless students in the SCV.

“Everyone heard that and said that possibly cannot be true,” she says.

“We do a homeless count every year and they don’t find this. That was the thing that sparked our attention. What is the true story?”

Ender said that there were families sleeping in cars or sending their kids off to different homes to sleep on couches for a while.

“The definition of homelessness is much broader than living in the riverbed.”

Ender describes how several types of congregations come together through Family Promise to provide shelter for those who need it. Some of these places include Jewish Synagogues and Catholic churches. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventists and Methodists are also hosts to the families needing shelter.

Ender says that some people did not think the idea behind Family Promise would work.

This is because people of different religions would have to come together, regardless of ideology.

“People said that would never work,” Ender says. “But it does work and it’s pretty amazing.”

“They leave their theology at the door and help the neediest people in our community, and that is God working,” she says. “We have so many different ways people can volunteer and we are constantly amazed.”

Family Promise is located at 18565 Soledad Canyon Road or visit

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