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Life and Arts

On the Town: Family Promise of the Verdugos postpones gala, changes the way it helps homeless families

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Albert Hernandez, executive director of Family Promise of the Verdugos, is working on a day-to-day basis to meet the unique challenges the pandemic is having on local homeless families.
(David Laurell)

Albert Hernandez, executive director of Family Promise of the Verdugos, had a plan for this week.

“We had our annual gala fundraiser scheduled for March 27 at Universal Studios,” Hernandez said.

“I love our yearly galas because, along with raising the much-needed funds we rely on, it is a way for us to say ‘thank you’ to our supporters, volunteers and sponsors in the communities we serve. For this year’s event, we had 38 sponsors, more than we have ever had,” he added.

While the gala was canceled due to concerns about the novel coronavirus, which can lead to COVID-19, the event has been tentatively rescheduled for June 19.

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Christina Ellixson, who serves as a case worker, said she is prepared for whatever shift in operations Family Promise of the Verdugos must make.
(David Laurell)

In the meantime, Family Promise of the Verdugos has more immediate concerns with which to deal.

“We partner with churches, [which] are shuttering their doors,” Hernandez said.

“This impacts our homeless families who stay in their facilities, so we have moved all the families we are currently serving to motels, and the churches are providing them with gift cards to restaurants and arranging for grab-and-go breakfast,” he added.

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Case manager Lewis Kim is making sure the families the nonprofit is currently serving are receiving wellness checks over the phone on a daily basis.
(David Laurell)

A nonprofit that provides assistance, safe shelter and meals to homeless children and their families, Family Promise of the Verdugos was established in 2010.

It is one of more than 200 networks across the country affiliated with Family Promise, a national nonprofit committed to helping homeless families achieve lasting independence.

The local chapter helps mobilize communities by providing services with the assistance from local church congregations and volunteers from Burbank, Glendale, North Hollywood, Pasadena, La Crescenta and Eagle Rock.

“As the days and weeks go by, our church partners will get a better understanding of how to process what they can do to help during this shift in our operation,” said Hernandez, who said he anticipates the real impact of the pandemic will hit the local nonprofit in the next 30 to 60 days as people can no longer afford their living expenses.

“One of the things we are really concerned about is the isolation our families are dealing with during this time,” he said. “That is why our staff members are calling them on a daily basis — checking in on their welfare and to see if they need anything.”

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Family Promise of the Verdugos’ program manager Carrie Prado is one of the dedicated staff members Hernandez says he is so grateful for.
(David Laurell)

Hernandez said he was extremely grateful for the dedication of his staff, for the help he has received from Shanna Warren, chief executive of the local Boys and Girls Club, and for the community partners who have always been there to support the organization’s work.

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“Sometimes, it takes something like what we are going through, for us all to step back, realize what a valuable service we have the honor to provide, and how grateful we are to those who make it possible for us to do that work,” Hernandez said.

For more information about the work of Family Promise of the Verdugos and its support opportunities, visit familypromiseverdugos.org.

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