Local organizations join to help veterans

Sue Endress, Alejandro Castillo, Jim Lentini and Ed Austin, left to right, post with the gift cards, totaling $2,000, they will be donating to five veteran families. Courtesy of Linda Pedersen
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In a joint effort among three local organizations, members of the Rotary Club of Santa Clarita, Elks Lodge No. 2379 and Harry Bell Foundation came together to help five local veterans and their families.

“Knowing the difficulty that some of our veterans are going through, we reached out to Homes 4 Families and said, ‘If there is anybody that can use our help, call us and we’ll be there in no time,’” Rotarian Sue Endress said. 

Both Endress and Jim Lentini are veterans, Rotarians and members of the Harry Bell Foundation, as are many others in the organizations, which often find overlap in the work. 

“Harry Bell was a veteran and very much involved with local veterans and what they have had to go through coming back, so that’s why we started the foundation,” Endress said. “It was actually started to be able to help veterans migrate back into society.”

Harry Bell served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, later becoming a founding member of the local Elks Lodge and an active member of the SCV Rotary Club for 48 years.

The foundation in his name, along with both other organizations, often work hand-in-hand with Homes 4 Families, helping to meet the veterans’ needs in the community.  

“We had been meeting until this pandemic with representatives from Homes 4 Families to find out what their needs are within our community,” Lentini said. “In other words, if they need an accountant, they need their car fixed or an attorney, we refer them to someone locally.”

Past President of the Rotary Club of Santa Clarita Pat Kenney, left, and current President Glenn Terry, load bikes to be donated to five veteran families into their truck. Courtesy of Linda Pedersen

“(We do) whatever we can do to help because these veterans have done a lot for our country,” Endress added. ”They deserve our attention. They deserve our help.”

Though it took some time after Endress’ offer, Alejandro Castillo of Home 4 Families reached out and told them about five veterans whose families were hit especially hard by the pandemic.

“It was brought to my attention that there were five specific families, I believe there were like nine children, who really had some hardships, so we wanted to act quickly,” Rotary Club President Glenn Terry said. 

Each organization began fundraising, collecting a total of $2,000 worth of Visa gift cards to split among the families, along with other household items.

“Because the kids are at home right now and can’t go to school, they asked for bikes, so we did get 17 bikes donated,” Endress said. 

Rotarians invite the SCV community to join in their efforts to make the lives of these veterans and their families just a little bit easier during this trying time. Those interested in donating can contact the Rotary Club at 661-312-7268.

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