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Typically demanding day at homeless shelter

Posted: December 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 26, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Bryan Woodson shows a Christmas portrait of him and his fiance Heather at the Bridge to Home homeless shelter in Newhall on Wednesday.

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Aside from the decorations lining the wall and a tree standing in the corner of the dining hall, Christmas was a fairly typical day at Santa Clarita’s homeless shelter in Saugus.

Part of the reason for that, said Frank Gonzalez, a resident assistant at the Bridge to Home shelter on Drayton Street, is that the need for the services the shelter provides is present outside the holidays.

“There’s been a steady flow of residents and donations coming in all season,” he said Wednesday. “Today has been like that.”

Perhaps the biggest change was that, unlike most other days, the shelter stays open all day on Christmas, Gonzalez said.

Typically the shelter is open in the morning and again in the evening, but closed in the mid part of the day, Gonzalez said.

“It provides a place to hang out during the holidays,” Gonzalez said.

This was the first season at the shelter for Bryan Woodson.

Woodson said he has lived in Santa Clarita since 1997 and that he has been dating his girlfriend, Heather Graham, for about a year.

“This week a year ago was our first Christmas together,” he said.

Woodson said the services he receives at the shelter help both him and his girlfriend.

“We’re better off because this place forces us to get up in the morning to go to the library and look for work,” he said of the shelter.

“If you utilize this place, it’s helpful,” he continued. “They’ll get us started and afterwards, it’s up to us.”

Carlton Searcy-Cooper, 42, is staying at the shelter for the second season.

Searcy-Cooper said the shelter has provided him with the services necessary to avoid some of his past mistakes.

“I try to remember what I go through so I don’t repeat the same things,” he said. “When I choose to forget about the pain and hurt, and the stupid things I’ve done, I wind up doing the same things over again.

“I try to remember that,” he said.

Signal photographer Charlie Kaijo contributed to this report.

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