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Last supper arrives at shelter for homeless

Emergency Winter Shelter closes until December.

Posted: March 16, 2008 2:01 a.m.
Updated: May 17, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
The Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter is closing its doors today and will reopen in December to once again serve the area's homeless people.

The shelter, located off of Golden Valley Road in Canyon Country, will wrap up its last day by serving breakfast to its clients before closing at 8 a.m.

Tim Davis, president of the nonprofit Santa Clarita Community Development Corp., which operates the shelter, believes the Canyon Country shelter had a successful season, thanks to the support from the local community.

He estimates that the shelter averaged around 32 people a night with about five or six clients staying in the motel.

The shelter opened for the season in early December 2007.

The shelter can accommodate a total of 41 clients at its location, allowing six people to stay at a local motel, in cases where families have an underage child.

Annette Guzman, shelter manager, said she saw an increase in the number of women who visited during the 2007-08 season.

Although the 12-year-old shelter encountered a funding shortage for its Family Assistance Program at the end of February, Davis said as usual, local agencies and organizations pitched in to generate enough money to keep the program going.

As for the shelter volunteers and supporters, Davis said, "Twelve years in a row, the people have come out here to volunteer for us. People came through big time."

He continued to say that in the 106 nights the shelter has been open, there has been a sack lunch and dinner ready for the clients.

Guzman agreed with Davis, saying that the outpouring of volunteers and donations allowed the shelter to run its roughly 4-month operation smoothly.

And because the shelter offers two case managers, many have been able to find homes, jobs or both.

The statistics for those who find homes and jobs are higher when compared to shelters in the Los Angeles area, according to Regina Talbert, one of two case managers at the SCV Emergency Winter Shelter.

"These numbers were amazing to me," she said, citing the motivation and participation from clients
as reasons for the high success rate.

Davis said the remaining clients who were unable to find a permanent home will most likely sleep in their cars, set up tents or engage in "couch surfing," until the shelter reopens in December of this year.

At the shelter on Saturday evening, many clients had begun to say their good-byes to the staff and volunteers, while others took time to gather their belongings and eat dinner.

David Mendez has visited the shelter for the past three seasons.

He said that he was able to get good food and the staff members were always very nice.

As for his plans for when the shelter closes, Mendez said he has a place on Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway where he "camps out."

He hopes that he won't have to come back to the shelter next year.

John Matzke said his stays at the shelter gave him a way to get out of the cold, take a shower, keep his things and even connect with two local churches that volunteer at the shelter.

Matzke said he will stay in his car after the shelter closes, but hopes to be able to save up enough money to find a room in the coming months.

Davis anticipates the shelter to open again in December at the same location on Golden Valley Road, making it easier for people to find the location.

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