Written by; Mary Macadam.
Edited by; Ryan Brown
North Valley Caring Services Outreach Team continues to serve the San Fernando Valley with meals, hygiene items, and care packages throughout the winter season. With the spike of Omicron more folks have been on the streets in need of assistance. Areas such as Van Nuys, Panorama City, Lake Balboa and Sun Valley have seen a 25% increase in the number of meals needed to serve each location. Thanks to our incredible kitchen staff, we have been able to keep serving hot, fresh meals to each community we serve. Despite long term placements being delayed due to quarantine rules at each site, as a team we can reflect on some of our most recent placements and see the goal of this program in getting folks off the street demonstrated.
In early December of 2021, the Outreach team began working with a client named, "Abby." “Abby” is a 43-year-old woman who has been battling homelessness for the past four years. She had been in and out of various programs, and eventually she lost hope. So, for the past two years, she stayed in her tent. She moved around every few weeks in order to maintain her safety and avoid violence. After weeks of talking with "Abby" and building her trust we were able to find shelter for her. She is now in a safe, calm environment that will ensure her safety. Allowing her safety to be secure has allowed "Abby" to grow in her own journey. NVCS connected "Abby" to Mental Health Services, Employment Opportunities and more.
Success stories like "Abby’s" would not be possible without North Valley's emphasis on relationships. Building relationships and trust is what allows the clients we serve to feel comfortable in reaching out for help regardless of where they are in their homeless journey. Trust, kindness, and relationships are a priority in meal distribution, shelter placement, as well as long term care following placement. That is what makes North Valley Caring Services unique.
"Abby", Mary and Jacob
As a team, we serve 120 meals Monday-Thursday to each neighborhood within our district, as well as 160 meals to families living in motels. Consistency to these areas is what allows us to know the folks living there as people, and not just trailers or tents. For example, we know when we go out to Sun Valley on Thursdays, we need to bring dog food for “John Doe” or a jacket and socks for “Sam Smith.” Clients recognize our staff and feel comfortable sharing their personal stories regarding relationships, history of homelessness, and the joys and struggles of their days with us. We hear the same client walk up to a staff member they know well, give them a fist bump, and demonstrate friendship. They will provide an update next time we see them and often ask for our advice in handling various situations. Additionally, while on the streets in these areas we are able to provide medical supplies, and ID and Birth Certificate vouchers. After listening to the client’s requests, we make referrals towards addiction treatment centers and mental health outreach teams in order to serve them best. The meals act as a sign of love, and again, demonstrate what makes us different.
This passion, kindness, and desire to serve is demonstrated from all leaders, team members, and volunteers at NVCS. We have started off the year strong. In January of 2022 we served over 2,500 hot meals to our community, referred clients to over 20 programs, provided mental health services for 15+ individuals, and obtained permanent placement subsidies for 2 individuals. We have an awaiting placement list over twenty and will enter February with the same passion that has allowed us to serve our community well.
Jose, Outreach Coordinator, with a client during outreach.