Impact

How SoCal Gas changed the life of LAFH participant Chantilya

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One day in August, I found myself in the Doctor's office being prescribed medication for depression, insomnia, and migraines. I knew that many aspects in my life played a part in this depression, but a majority was due to the stress and drama from my job. For the sake of my sanity, I left that job.

By mid-September I was facing eviction.

The many shelters I called were full, and the places I approached for rental assistance were out of funding or had a lengthy waitlist. I found a Salvation Army that was willing to help with my rent but couldn’t find a leasing office to accept the payment.

Then, I found LA Family Housing. After a brief intake, Eva provided instructions on how to get started on my journey. She helped me get food stamps, a California ID, and homeless assistance from Social Services the very same day I arrived! By the end of the business day, my children and I had a place to lay our head and food to eat thanks to LA Family Housing.

Eva also connected me with Maria, from LAFH’s employment team. After asking me about my experience and what kind of job I was looking for, Maria helped me submit my application to SoCalGas.

As I waited for a response, Maria sent daily emails of current job listings and job fairs taking place. A Barista position at Universal Studios caught my eye so I applied and a month later I got the job! It was a new and amazing experience for me. I was able to work at Universal Studios during the holidays and take my children to the theme park for free...all while being homeless!

In January, I received the invitation from SoCalGas to come and apply for a position. There was a group of eight that came in to test but I was the only one to pass. Two weeks later, I received an interview request. LA Family Housing helped me prepare for the interview by conducting mock interviews and providing constructive feedback. When the time came, they even provided me with transportation to my interview!

Three days later, I received an email that I passed my interview and would be placed in the candidate pool until a position became available. A week after that email, I received a call for an open position which I accepted and received my offer letter the following day!

I started as a Cashier with SoCalGas on April 8, 2019 and I already love my job. I am a permanent employee with full benefits. I love that this opportunity aligns with everything I have wanted in a career – from atmosphere, to the position itself, to the opportunity to travel while doing my job. I am truly blessed and humbled. I am so grateful for ALL of LA Family Housing. The care, compassion, eagerness, and willingness to help definitely does not go unnoticed. 

I'm currently still trying to secure permanent housing, and not only is LA Family Housing assisting me with this, but they're also providing shelter to assure that my children and I have a roof over our heads! A special thanks to my Case Manager, Siranush, who doesn't make me feel like "another case" but an actual human being!

Rashad's Story

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I’m sure you expect me to say that after living at LA Family Housing, everything changed for the better - well, that’s not my story.

When I was 14, I lived in LA Family Housing’s Valley Shelter.

For the majority of my childhood, my parents struggled with addiction and my life was incredibly unstable.

As a teenager experiencing homelessness, I was ashamed, embarrassed, and angry. I hid the truth from my friends, making them drop me off down the street after basketball practice instead of in front of the motel shelter.

Somewhere between walking home before the shelter curfew and waking up early to catch the bus, I made myself a promise - I would do everything within my power to ensure my kids experienced a better childhood than I did.

After we moved on, my parents continued to struggle. Once I turned 18, I moved out, completed my 2nd semester of my senior of high school and then went to college. After working several odd jobs, I started my own company that was focused on youth sports.  From there I became a real estate agent and then eventually launched Winston Group Realty, a real estate brokerage in Sherman Oaks.

Years later, when I was finally in the position to give back to a cause that is meaningful to me, of course I chose LA Family Housing.

Why give?

My family’s short stay at Valley Shelter 30 years ago (now the site of The Campus) was a defining moment in my life. And in the grand scheme of the past, it helped me in ways I was too young to understand.

As an adult, I don’t take for granted that I have a roof over my head and that my kids are safe.

I give because I’m raising resilient children.

So much was out of my control as a teenager.  I was at the mercy of my parent’s decisions, and sadly, their addictions.

I always tell my kids “Don’t focus on what you can’t control. Focus on what you can. If you do that, you’ll realize how powerful you truly are.”  I want my kids to know that their story is theirs to write.

I give because I understand that some situations are beyond our control.

There is no “deserving poor.” We are all human. Sometimes people make poor decisions. But everyone deserves the dignity of a home no matter their background or their vices.

LA Family Housing could have denied my parents a place to sleep. Where would that have left me? My brother and sisters?

I give because I know I can change a person’s life.

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Outside of my teenage angst, there were definitely bright spots about living at Valley Shelter. Reliable meals - of course - but there were also Christmas, which no matter how old or aloof I tried to act, I was still excited about.

Volunteers and donors swarmed the shelter and passed out gifts. One organization even brought in snow! Now that was pretty cool. It amazed my younger brother and put a smile on my face.

Strangers with no connection to us spent their time and money to make us happy. Even for a just a season…and it mattered.

I give because I’m grateful.

It’s rewarding to look back and see where I started. Here I am today, married for over a decade, with four beautiful children and my own business that supports our everyday lives and our future dreams. Yet, I’m always aware that things could have been much different for me. I’ve shared the same experience that 53,000 people experience every day in Los Angeles: I was homeless.

I give because I can.

Today I’m proud to serve on LA Family Housing’s board, offering input and guidance that will touch thousands of men, women, and children in crisis. Homelessness was my past, and helping to end it in people lives…well, that’s my legacy.