Bridge to Home officials, who operate the Santa Clarita Valley’s only homeless shelter and resource center, are celebrating their earliest opening ever with their Soup for the Soul fundraiser Sunday.
“Our goal is not just to provide a hot meal and a place to sleep,” said Tammy McGivern, public relations director for Bridge to Home. “We want to help get them back on their feet and get them the services they need — whether it’s medical, dental, a haircut, subsidized housing, where applicable and job placement — any available resources we can provide.”
This will be the 17th year of operation for the homeless shelter, which is in the midst of a fundraising effort to secure a year-round location.
Traditionally, the shelter opens right after Thanksgiving, but this year, it will be open the Monday before, McGivern said.
The ceremony Sunday will take place from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Tickets which are $40 at the door or $35 in advance come with dinner, dessert and a commemorative soup bowl donated and painted by volunteers.
“It’s a really important resource,” McGivern said, discussing the issue of homelessness. “We house 54 men and women each night.”
There are estimated to be thousands homeless in the Santa Clarita Valley, although an official Santa Clarita Valley count from Los Angeles County doesn’t exist.
However, the countywide numbers show increases, and based on the number of persons served by the shelter, the local homeless population probably numbers around 2,000, according to Tim Davis, executive director of Bridge to Home.
While there were 224 individual names served last winter, based on 16 years of experience, officials estimate they serve only a portion of the Santa Clarita Valley’s homeless population.
“We think we’re seeing, at best, 10 percent on a given night,” Davis said, acknowledging that, “I can’t scientifically prove that.”
The shelter’s housing capacity is just one aspect of the facility’s resources, McGivern said, adding that Bridge To Home works with numerous community partnerships.
“We just forged a pretty strong relationship with Goodwill, and they’re doing an incredible job of providing some of the entry-level jobs and providing a great resource,” she said, mentioning Family Promise, Help the Children and the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry as other resources. “We all work together.”