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‘Feeding Individuals Sharing Hope’ daily

Posted: August 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 11, 2012 2:00 a.m.

From left, Amanda Kubasak, 9, serves juice to Rebecca Smith and Robert Stewart outside the Kmart store in Valencia on Thursday.

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Over the past 20 years a small group at Valencia United Methodist Church called FISH, Feeding Individuals Sharing Hope, has offered sack meals to homeless people in the parking lot behind KMart.

The group began by feeding homeless people in the local area washes. Concerns of safety were raised and they moved operations behind KMart. What started initially as a small effort has grown to reach two different Santa Clarita locations on two nights.

Feeding Families

Mindi Cope has volunteered with FISH for five years and is the coordinator for the group. Each night, the group meets at the church to pack up the bagged meals and then heads to the location. On Thursdays, FISH will feed 25 to 40 people, composed of mostly families and children in need, behind KMart.

The group offers bagged meals packed with anything from turkey sandwiches, juice boxes, bags of chips, hard boiled eggs, cheese sticks, a separate bag of mixed fruit and all with a Bible verse tucked inside.

“As Christians we are called to serve,” Cope said. “We know there is a need and we want to do whatever we can to help.”

Each night they begin with a prayer circle, giving anyone the opportunity to ask for prayer, and conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.

Serving more

Last summer, Patt and Alex Kerr began heading to Veterans Historical Plaza on Thursdays to seek out more homeless people needing help. Most of the them were single; many were veterans.

“We don’t know what they have gone through,” Kerr said. “For most of the people, this valley is their home and they want to stay close to it.”

The city asked them to relocate after complaints about the growing homeless population at the park.

“We do support local organizations in town that are trying to help the homeless,” said Gail Ortiz, city communications manager. “If we’ve received complaints, we would discourage people from loitering on public property and ask them to move.”

FISH found a new location because one compassionate business owner, Roger Hasper, owner of Newhall Bicycle Co., said they could use his parking lot and was excited about the idea.

“We are honored they would choose our parking lot to do that,” Hasper said. “Out of the kindness of their hearts they try to help out people who need help, they are a breath of fresh air. When they asked we said, ‘Heck yeah!’”

In March, after the homeless shelter closed, FISH began serving out of Newhall Bicycle’s parking lot and changed to Tuesday, due to the Thursday night street fair held in Newhall. Serving two locations on two different nights, they had a hope to find more locations.

“We see the need for a year round shelter,” Cope said. “Until then, our goal is to get another location. We encourage them in the fall to go to the shelter, but we do what we can during the summer. We have a very dedicated and compassionate group that wants to help.”

They receive positive responses from the people they serve, many times getting thank yous, smiles and hugs.

“They are respectful and appreciative and want to tell us about their lives,” Kerr said. “They seem like they really need someone to talk to. They want what we all want, the American dream.”

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