Following a yearlong closure due to the pandemic, the Santa Clarita Veteran Services Collaborative celebrated the reopening of its Veteran Center Thursday.
“I’m so excited — we’re open,” volunteer coordinator Patti Ryan said, with a cheer.
The center’s reopening was a long-awaited day for the collaborative, which has strived to use the center to give veterans a place to go for support, supplies or even just somewhere they can spend time and talk with other veterans.
“This is a really valuable resource for the community and for the veterans who have served,” said Jonathan Ahmadi, vice president of the collaborative’s board. “It was really tough being closed … (but) at the end of the day, you just have to prioritize your vets and your volunteers and their safety.”
The center has a food pantry, computers, library and referral services for home care, medical and dental services, education, financial and legal services, employment, training and more, as well as access to a part-time veteran service officer who can assist veterans in securing benefits from the government.
Since the closure, the collaborative has revamped the center, installing new computers, restocking the food pantry and adding a fresh coat of paint, along with redesigning the interior to comply with all COVID-19 safety requirements.
After putting out the call for volunteers, the collaborative was thankful to receive dozens of responses, with approximately 15 new volunteers set to work at the center, all of whom have delved head first into preparations for the center’s reopening.
Anna Scott was a frequent volunteer pre-pandemic, so after a year off, the opportunity to volunteer at the Veteran Center came at the perfect time.
“I’m retired, and I like to keep busy so I volunteer a lot,” Scott said. “I like to serve where I can.”
For Dana Stewart, who has two sons currently serving in the military and a third who’s a veteran, she felt it only right to volunteer where she already felt a strong connection.
“I just feel like I have a lot to offer as far as personal experience,” Stewart said.
And while Stewart’s experience is primarily with younger veterans, she’s looking forward to getting to know the older ones as well.
“I’m just really looking forward to hearing the stories,” she added.
The collaborative is hoping to continue expanding its services. “So, while this center is really the primary service that the collaborative provides, we want to put on more events to try to help veterans find other veterans to build that sense of community,” Ahmadi added.
The center is limited to six visitors at one time, and those interested in picking up food now need to complete a form, designating the food items they require, which are then to be bagged by volunteers.
The Veteran Center is located at 23222 Lyons Ave. in Newhall. For more information, visit scv-vets.org or call 661-753-3559. Those interested in joining the collaborative can contact Jeff Stabile at [email protected].