“After years of street ministry, it no longer surprises me when I receive a message on my cell from a person whom we have befriended. Yet, last week when I received a text from Tresa, I could not help but to be surprised. See, Tresa was inviting my wife Betty and me to her graduation at Hope Gardens Family Wellness Center. I was truly surprised that she would invite us; I thought that perhaps we were the only people she knew here in the area. That made us determined to attend.
I recalled meeting Tresa and her twin daughters in the winter of 2016; they were part of a Rapid Rehousing Program in which families with children are placed in motels along Sepulveda Boulevard. They are expected to look for employment and housing while being vouchered for 28 days. Most families take several months to be housed, blowing through their food stamps before the 15th of every month. There are neither microwaves nor refrigerators in these rooms; they usually eat at fast food chains that accept food stamps.
For this reason, the North Valley Caring Services, with the support of the Valley Food Bank, started a feeding program in which we go out to “the highways and the byways” and offer delicious hot meals to individuals that are in the motels and also those that reside in the encampments in North Hills. Our hope is that no one in our community suffers hunger, especially our kids, and that perhaps these meals might provide for us the opportunity to minister to those we serve.
During her graduation, Tresa asked to share some important sentiments. Her words will forever inspire me to press on in ministry and simply love others as Jesus himself has loved us.
“I didn’t know whether to open the door when I heard the knocking,” Tresa said. “After all, we were staying in a motel on Sepulveda Boulevard. However, when I opened the door, I saw Manny and Betty standing there. They asked if I was OK and if I would like a plate of food. See, these people were not aware that I had no idea what I was going to feed my daughters. The fact that they listened to us and prayed with us is something that my daughters and I will never forget. Thank you.”
Tresa is now at Hope Gardens where she and her girls are thriving. She is working and her relationship with God is growing. By the end of the year, she will have permanent housing as well as ample money for her and her girls to have a fresh start. Who knew that a meal and compassion could have such an effect?”
~ Submitted by Pastor Manny Flores, North Valley Caring Services