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San Fernando Valley comes together

Volunteers and elected leaders work to beautify the community and help those in need

Source: Pierce College Round Up

Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel was joined by Mayor Karen Bass, local representatives and volunteers of various ages at the second annual Day of Service on Sunday to work on projects to help the San Fernando Valley. 

Volunteers from different parts of the Valley met at Pierce College before reporting to their designated stations, either on campus or off-site.

Gabriel started the event in 2022 to get people working together again after the pandemic. He expected around 150 volunteers. He got 700. 

“Today is really about bringing people together, about celebrating the beautiful diversity of our community and about making a difference,” Gabriel said. 

This year, the number of volunteers who signed up went up to over 1,000. 

Along with different organizations and led by elected leaders such as Senator Caroline Menjivar, volunteers spread across the Valley to clean nearby neighborhoods, pick up trash at the Sepulveda Basin and sort items at the SOVA food pantry.  

On-campus projects at Pierce College included a blood drive, packing outreach kits and gardening. 

Gabriel said change requires everyone in the community to come out and get together. The “amazing” turnout was exactly what Gabriel was hoping would come out of the event. 

“There is so much negativity on social media,” Gabriel said. “What I know from being out in the community is we actually live in an incredibly kind, generous and vibrant community.”

Gabriel thanked more than 40 different community partners at the event, including the West Valley Food Pantry, Moms Demand Action and Women’s Association- Los Angeles. 

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, a self-proclaimed “former Valley girl”, spoke about how proud she was to be at the event.  

“One thing I always like to do is lift up the work that goes on in this city from all the community organizations, because if you think about the problems we have in the city, the only way to resolve them is for all of us to get involved,” Bass said. “That’s the way we built the Los Angeles that we all know we can have.” 

Bass recently declared a state of emergency regarding the homeless crisis in the city, highlighting the need for community and lawmaker support in aiding with the growing situation. 

L.A. County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath said that efforts such as the Day of Service event give an opportunity for community members, community leaders as well as local politicians to work together to help the most vulnerable people in our neighborhoods.

“It is a new day in Los Angeles,” Horvath said. “We know the Valley has shown up, but now you have partners in the region who are also showing up with and for you. You inspired the leadership to see that change is happening right now in our communities.” 

Likewise, Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo said the event will help reach those in need due to the efforts of volunteers.

“This is a time we need to come together as a community and really support others around us and make sure that they have the resources they need,” Schiavo said. “Your work today will do that.”

West Hills resident Jennifer Silva and her friends spent the morning packing outreach kits for people who are unhoused and living on the streets. Kits included toiletries such as razors, shampoo, shaving cream and feminine hygiene products. 

“I think everybody should have the right to be clean and have access to things like sanitary pads,” Silva said. “It’s especially hard to obtain when you’re out on the streets. It’s not like periods stop just because you’re homeless.” 

The project was made possible by L.A. Family Housing, a non-profit that provides homeless support services.

Bass said these packages will help those on the streets, as well as those who are transitioning from the streets into housing but may still need assistance. 

Amber Fulenbach from OneGeneration, a senior services organization, encouraged volunteers to write letters to senior citizens, one of the many projects planned for volunteers to partake in on campus.  

OneGeneration delivers meals to homebound senior citizens during the weekdays, at no cost. 

“The letters will go with their meals,” Fulenbach said. “It’s just to let the seniors know that someone in their community is thinking of them and they’re not alone.” 

Canoga Park resident Ayslin Ramirez shared how she found joy in volunteer work through her participation with the Boys and Girls Club. 

“I like being able to know that I’m part of my community and I can hopefully help someone feel better,”  Ramirez said, as she wrote several letters to the senior citizens of OneGeneration, 

Pierre Arreola, co-founder of Gr818ers, a local organization promoting youth development through hip-hop, was glad to see such a huge turnout of people lending a hand to help their community. 

“This is the San Fernando Valley, this is what we’re about–being a community and being of service to others,” Arreola said.