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Volunteers lend a hand to local winter shelter

Posted: January 10, 2009 9:17 p.m.
Updated: January 11, 2009 12:00 p.m.

Ricky Hoefert, 12, of Boy Scout Troop 2's Falcon Patrol, pushes a wheelbarrow full of gravel as fellow scouts look on Saturday at the Santa Clarita Valley Winter Emergency Shelter. The boys were among volunteers who helped set up more parking spaces and performed maintenance on the shelter.

At least 40 volunteers gathered at the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter to provide more parking spaces, paint the women's dorm and light up the shelter's entrance sign Saturday morning.

It was one of the largest community volunteer projects to spruce up the shelter since it moved to Golden Valley Road in November 2007, said Tim Davis, executive director of the shelter.

"This is a really wonderful city where people come out all the time to help," he said.

When the shelter relocated from the Centre Pointe Business Park last winter, he said the staff decided to purposely refrain from undertaking some of the fix-it jobs in order to save money and enlist the help of the community.

So far, community members have come through.

Working towards the prestigious Eagle Scout rank, Boy Scout Andrew Tiemann of Valencia organized the painting and electricity projects to meet a community service requirement.

As project manager, Tiemann said he began planning a couple of months ago, choosing which areas to improve, working to get paint supplies donated through local businesses and coordinating volunteers.

"I'm hoping (the local homeless) can see this and think of it as a safe place," Tiemann said. "Now, it looks more permanent and finished."

Tiemann delegated tasks to his fellow scouts of Troop 228 as they covered the outer walls of the women's dorm with a coat of tan paint.

Scout Calvin Olbes, 13, of Valencia, said no matter what a homeless person's circumstances are, it's important they have a welcoming shelter from the cold.

"Whatever happened in their lives, it's nice the community can provide this," he said.

Along a steep dirt hill leading up to the shelter, Scott Derderian and a staff from Valencia Electric and some volunteers from Santa Clarita Church of Christ trenched the hill to provide a conduit for electricity to run from the men's dorm to the shelter's road sign on Golden Valley Road.

A lit sign is necessary so people do not pass by the shelter, Davis said.

Derderian said providing the manpower, time and tools to light up the sign, in addition to adding more circuits in the dining room, would typically cost about $4,500, but it cost the shelter nothing.

"If it's what they need, it's what they need," he said.

In the parking lot, the Falcon Patrol of Boy Scout Troop 2 of Newhall was found shoveling gravel to create 10 to 15 more parking spaces in the lot. Doing the hands-on work allowed the scouts to earn community service hours.

"It feels good that we're helping other people," said patrol member Ricky Hoefert, 12. "It's hard work but rewarding."

Davis scanned the scene of volunteers simultaneously working in different areas to improve the shelter.

"When we get a day like this going, it's really nice," Davis said. "Volunteers of all ages get a chance to participate in something really worthwhile - providing for the homeless."


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