Tradition of outreach helps disabled children, abuse victims, the homeless
Children in communities so violent, they never play outside. AIDS sufferers who live on the streets. Foster children who reach 18 and are dropped from the system, often with no place to go. Abused women and their children.
These are the poor and vulnerable of the San Fernando Valley, our neighbors living on the margins. They are among the people Providence Health & Services has served for more than 160 years, since the Sisters of Providence, led by the indomitable Mother Joseph, migrated to the West Coast.
Today Providence has developed partnerships with the experts serving those in need, helping to fund the work of those who best know how to meet their clients’ complex needs. This week, the three Providence medical centers in the San Fernando Valley – Providence Saint Joseph in Burbank, Providence Holy Cross in Mission Hills and Providence Tarzana – hosted the annual Mother Joseph grants program, providing funding to help these nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions.
“The Mother Joseph grant - it’s not a gift, it’s an investment in our community,” Sister Nancy Jurecki, OP, chief mission integration officer for Providence in California, told representatives of the 17 local organizations chosen this year to receive a total of $365,000 in grants.
For three decades, Providence has helped the Alliance for Housing and Healing, which serves those with HIV/AIDS, many of whom are homeless, said Jack Lorenz, director of development.
“Thirty years later, the face of HIV/AIDS has changed but the need has not,” he said. “With this money you help us serve the most vulnerable.”
A Better Living is an organization that provides housing and support to people in transition, people who have no place to live.
“Homelessness is an epidemic in Los Angeles and in the United States,” said Brigitte McGee, co-president of the board. “With the help of the Mother Joseph grant we will commit to decrease the number of residents who live on the street or in a car.”
Mario Landeros is principal of Guardian Angel School, a campus that sits in the middle of subsidized housing projects in Pacoima. Funding from the Mother Joseph program will expand the physical education program Providence helped initiate long ago to ensure youngsters have a place to run and play, safe from the violence in their community.
“At Guardian Angel School, this grant helps those kids who don’t have an opportunity to play outdoors, even in a park. The area has a lot of gang activity – in the last two months at least five people have been shot. Students stay in their homes where it’s safe, watching videos, TV, playing video games. Thanks to Providence, they get to run and play, to learn sports, even to swim.”
BCR A Place to Grow provides those with developmental disabilities specialized care, with the goal of helping each client meet his or her potential. The organization will use its Mother Joseph grant to expand the number of clients who take yoga, gymnastics and other fitness classes at the local YMCA.
“These programs help improve skills in several ways, including helping learn to follow instruction,” said Julie Larsen, executive director. “Thank you for caring and recognizing the importance of this often neglected community.”
The Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley provides fitness programs at three Catholic schools in very low-income areas of the San Fernando Valley, thanks in part to support from Providence, said Brittany Vaughan, operations director.
“We want to make sure no child is ever turned away because they can’t afford to participate,”
Catholic Charities offers safety net services for all ages, serving families and individuals, some of them homeless.
“This will allow us to continue to do God’s work through our organization – to serve seniors in their homes, to keep their dignity,” said Sandra Yanaz, San Fernando Regional Director for Catholic Charities.
For seven years, Providence has partnered with Olive View/UCLA Education and Research Institute’s Chagas Program to screen for potentially deadly chagas disease. Chagas is caused by a parasite that can lie dormant for decades, and suddenly surface, causing heart disease and even sudden death. It predominantly affects people from Central America. If diagnosed early, it is curable. This grant will help fund a pilot program to incorporate chagas screening into routine primary health care, said Salvador Hernandez, M.D., chagas clinical coordinator.
“This will be a model for the rest of the United States,” Dr. Hernandez said.
For ONEgeneration, the grant will provide hot meals for 50 more seniors served by the organization.
New Horizons will enhance its jobs training and placement program for its developmentally disabled adult clients.
Joan Maltese, founder of the Child Development institute, thanked Providence for its long-time support of her group, which meets the needs of those babies who may face developmental issues long after they leave a hospital’s neonatal ICU.
“Many of these babies are in families that don’t have the ability to navigate a really complicated system to get the care they need. We make sure every child has the opportunity to get every bit of service and care they need.”
Covenant House in Hollywood serves 100 young adults at any time, “graduates” of the foster care system, who, unprepared to be on their own, often become homeless. With Mother Joseph funding, Covenant House is enhancing its health care program and a “spiritual health” program that provides clients the opportunity to attend religious services of any denomination and to participate in community outreach.
“Our young people feed the homeless on skid row. Some of them had lived there,” said Amanda Sattler, chief development officer.
Also awarded grants were Family Promise of the Verdugos, which cares for homeless families; Family Service Agency of Burbank, helping survivors of domestic violence; Kids Community Dental Clinic, providing dental care to children from low-income families; MEND, a Pacoima agency working to lift clients out of poverty; Providence High School, a sister ministry of Providence Health & Services; and Therapeutic Living Centers for the Blind, serving visually impaired children up to age 5.