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Shelter: Every little bit helps the homeless

January 3, 2019

The staff at Sarah’s House recently received an unexpected delivery.

The arrival of donations, courtesy of the nearby office of Dr. Kara Bailey, was greeted with excitement from staff members.

Used clothing, quilts and other items brought in boxes and bags are always welcome at Sarah’s House, a temporary shelter facility in Pasadena for homeless women and their children ranging from infancy to age 17. But three or four carloads of items is a cause for celebration.

“They bring donations every year,” Brittany Garza, the nonprofit’s director of programing, said of Bailey’s office. “We had already run out of toilet paper, laundry detergent and cleaning products; so this is our saving grace.”

Sarah’s House is supported in part through a city grant and from local charitable organizations and industry partners. But it can always use help from the community.

“All donations brought to us and go directly to the ladies,” said Veronica Rodriguez, the facility’s associate director of programing. “They always end up with more than they came with and always take things with them as they leave.”

Clothes, shoes, small appliances, cleaning supplies, toiletries — Sarah’s House will take in most usable items. The list of what it doesn’t take in is short: large furniture items or large appliances unless approved. But any pair of worn shoes, pants or coat can be a gift to a women trying to get back on her feet; and pairs of sneakers or socks or a faded hoodie can make a child or teen happy.

“It does have an impact,” Rodriguez said. “Women, kids come in here sometimes with absolutely nothing; they’ve lost everything. When they rip into a bag of somebody’s old clothes, you would be surprised how excited the children here get to find something in there that they like and can keep at no charge for them.”

While it is a facility for women, the staff encourages donations of clothing for boys and men to fit male teens at the shelter. And modified clothing, such as sweatpants or shirts ripped for fashion, sleepwear or comfort, are welcome.

Another high need is chicken or beef that will either be cooked or stored in a freezer.

Sarah’s House also provides an opportunity for struggling families to look through clothing donations or to receive food packages.

The organization, which leases space in a building shared by a separate group, can accommodate 25 residents at a time. Rooms for singles can serve three women, while a family room accommodates a woman with several children.

The goal of Sarah’s House is to provide safe shelter to women who have found themselves without a home while they transition into work situations and independent living.

After a 90-day “emergency” stay, guests can request an extended stay as residents.

According to Rodriguez, residents do not have a timeline for their stay at Sarah’s House, but with the help of advocates on staff, they are encouraged to seek employment. Once they find work, residents are required to open a savings account.

The staff consists of six advocates and three directors and offer volunteer opportunities for those who’d like to read with youths or help look after younger children while mothers seek employment.

Garza talked about a worried grandmother who recently asked for help.

“She had suddenly taken in her grandkids and needed a food package, but she also didn’t have anything for Christmas and hadn’t been able to provide anything for Thanksgiving,” Garza said.

Using a previously donated turkey that had been kept in a freezer, staff members gave the grandmother a food package and Christmas presents for her grandchildren. Going through the donation room, staff had also found a quilt.

“She didn’t have enough blankets for the kids,” Garza said. “All donations, small or large, make a huge impact.”

Any donations accepted by Sarah’s House that are not used by residents at the facility go to a separate donation bin for other charitable organizations.

Sarah’s House is at 711 Perla Road, Pasadena.

Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For information, visit https://bit.ly/2QEL9OG or Sarah’s House Facebook page.

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