Family Promise brings back shopping event, now in Newhall

Volunteers from left, Irene Hoefere, Benito Gagan, 8, Lead Volunteer Coordinator Olga Zapata and Rev. Melissa MacKennen lay out some of the 150 Easter baskets created for attendees at the Family Promise Spring Shopping Event held at American Legion Post 507 in Newhall on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Back in December, Lisa Reyes was one of several mothers visiting Family Promise of Santa Clarita’s holiday shopping event.

Four months later, at the organization’s next shopping event at American Legion Post 507 in Newhall on Saturday, Reyes has now become a Family Promise board member.

“It’s been a hard run,” she said, with her 8-year-old son Benito close by. “I was homeless for 17 months, off and on, fighting. It was just hard times. I came to Family Promise and they just directed me and all the right places (and) gave me the resources.”

Family Promise’s executive director, Dr. Roché Vermaak, said that a church reached out asking if the nonprofit organization could help Reyes and her son.

“I said to her as I was driving there, ‘Lisa, do you want to change your life around?’” Vermaak said. “And she said, ‘Yes, I cannot live on the street with my son anymore.’”

Rather than taking the bus, Reyes now has a car and works full-time at Goodwill in Canyon Country. Reyes worked among several volunteers who help families shop for clothing items and healthcare supplies. Children 7 years old and under received baskets with toys and food, while older children could still pick up toys on a separate table.

“The whole community can get involved and help out,” said volunteer Jenny Hines. “I don’t think a lot of people in our valley really understand how many people we have living at the poverty line. There are a lot of people here who are really still struggling.”

Now that she’s directly helping struggling families, she’s reminded of how Family Promise has supported her.

“What I tell my son is, ‘We’re doing something to help people that are just like us,’” Reyes said.

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