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S.C.V. History
September 25
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]


Shayna Richards and son Riley

Canyon Country resident Shayna Richards remembers her husband Army Sgt. Timothy Smith’s attempts to keep her from worrying during his 2008 deployment in Iraq.

“He used to joke around and say he worked at the local supermarket, picking up shopping carts. He just made it seem like it was a breeze and nothing was wrong and everything was okay,” said Richards.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sgt. Smith served with the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team,10th Mountain Division. As a combat engineer he drove the lead vehicle for convoys while searching for improvised explosive devises (IEDs).

“He drove the lead, single-man vehicle in case a roadside bomb were to happen, it would take him out first. And that’s exactly what happened,” Richards said.

Smith left behind a wife and a son, Riley, whom he barely got to know.

Army Sgt. Timothy Smith

The boy was only 22 months old when his father died. Because Smith was stationed out of state, they only lived under the same roof for four months. Riley has no memories of the man who loved him so much.

“We do go over a lot of different pictures and we do talk about that a lot. And he’s starting to understand that he’s not coming back because for a very long time because he didn’t understand what death was,” Richards said.

Today, Richards and Riley share a home in Canyon Country. She is a full-time student at College of the Canyons where she uses her husband’s veteran’s benefits to get a degree.

Richards says she was contacted one day by the COC Veteran’s Affairs office. That’s where she heard about an organization called SCV Homes for Heroes which helps veterans in the Santa Clarita community. Richards says she was enthusiastic about doing anything she could to help.

She misunderstood.

SCV Homes for Heroes wanted to help her.

“When I said I was willing to do it, I thought that meant more I could help other veterans, I didn’t think they’d want to help me,” said Richards.

Donna Deutchman, CEO of the San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valley Habitat for Humanity, is not surprised by Richards misunderstanding. She says veterans and their families are so used to giving and doing for others they don’t think of themselves.

Richards says that accurately describes her husband, who was awarded The Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

“He always just sacrificed himself for everybody. It didn’t matter who it was,” said Richards.

Now, the SCV Homes for Heroes organization is helping Richards and Riley.

“Being such a young widow, trying to get back into college at College of the Canyons through the G.I. Bill, being a busy single mother now, and with her grieving process she and her son have felt a little bit in need of some lightening up, some encouragement,” said Deutchman.

Although SCV Homes for Heroes would eventually like to help veterans purchase homes, they are actively moving forward with the Brush with Kindness program. This aspect works with Habitat for Humanity volunteers to paint, make repairs, provide landscaping and weatherize the homes of veterans.

Normally Sgt. Smith’s medals adorn the walls for Riley to admire. Thursday, Steve Mercado, Site Supervisor for Habitat for Humanity removed everything from the walls and put plastic on the carpets. He and his team of volunteers began preparing the house for a new interior paint job and minor repairs.

Home Depot donated the paint and supplies.

Jeri Serrati-Goldman, co-owner of KHTS along with her husband Carl Goldman, says Richards’ home is just one of 10 homes to receive the Brush With Kindness treatment this year.

“We are getting overwhelming support from the community on each of our projects, we are so blessed to live in this wonderful place,” said Serrati-Goldman.

Riley, alternates between playing his hand-held video game, and watching curiously as all these strange, but kind people begin preparing the house for painting.

SCV Homes for Heroes, and its 62 member advisory board, wants Riley to know how much people appreciate his father’s service and sacrifice.

“(We’re) letting him know how proud the community is of his dad and his dad’s gift of safety and security meant to our community. And that Santa Clarita stands behind its heroes and when they fall we stand behind the families who have lost the fallen,” said Deutchman.

Volunteers are welcome to help SCV Homes for Heroes beginning at 7:30 Saturday morning at 29486 Kristine Court in Canyon Country.

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SCV NONPROFIT LINKS

NONPROFIT HEADLINES
Monday, Sep 25, 2017
Valencia-based non-profit organization SNAP Sports will host a wine tasting event at Salt Creek Grille to benefit its special-needs sports program and the Valencia SNAP Flyers hockey team on Thursday, Oct. 5 starting at 6 p.m.
Friday, Sep 22, 2017
The Child and Family Center will begin providing outpatient substance use treatment services for adolescents and young adults with primary substance use disorders under the California Drug MediCal Program starting Tuesday, October 3.
Friday, Sep 22, 2017
College of the Canyons and the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center will host a caregivers' workshop at the Senior Center in Newhall on Saturday, September 30 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
September is for seniors. Businesses around Santa Clarita are taking part in the following SCV Senior Center New Building Campaign events and asking the community to show support.
Wednesday, Sep 20, 2017
Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys has become one with its sister organization Homes 4 Families, and the new organization continues its mission to build affordable housing for veterans.

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