Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys honored seven surviving World War II veterans from Santa Clarita at the Princess Cruises and the Princess Cruises Community Foundation annual Hearts for Heroes Builders Ball. Last night, 470 guests at the Universal Sheraton Hotel in Universal City raised $291,000 to complete 24 of a 78-home neighborhood for low-income veterans in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Princess received the Hammer of Hope Award from Congressman Brad Sherman. The Hammer of Hope is this Habitat’s highest honor and is presented to extraordinary individuals or entities who are leaders in their fields and communities – specifically those who serve veterans and low-income families seeking to enter the middle class. Past recipients include Anheuser Busch, Home Depot, Citibank, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, The Gas Company, Primestor, and many others.
Accepting the award on behalf of Princess was its Vice President of Public Relations, Brian O’Connor. Princess is a longtime sponsor of Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV and a few weeks ago hosted a TEAM Build at which Princess employees spent the day building veteran homes.
WW II veterans being honored with a special tribute at the event were Lou Brousseau (Army Air Corps), Cal Erickson (Army Air Corps), Rex Gribble (Army Air Corps), Lloyd Lubensky (Army Air Corps), Richard Roelofs (Navy), Lee Shulman (Army Air Corps), and Tom Tucker (Navy). The award was presented by California State Assembly Member Dante Acosta.
Completion of the veteran neighborhood in Santa Clarita will bring Habitat’s total to over 400 homes to date. Next year, they begin building 56 more Veteran homes in Palmdale and 12 Veteran homes in North Hollywood. What makes this Habitat affiliate even more special is their belief that, in order for families to truly be successful, affordable housing must include a supportive environment that encourages self-sufficiency in a neighborhood culture. This program, called the Enriched Neighborhood® model, provides no-cost programs such as financial training, health and wellness programs, and social services that are easily accessible in the neighborhoods where the families live. This allows their families to become self-sufficient and learn skills and necessary tools to move out of the endless cycle of poverty housing and into the middle class. These programs are especially cherished by returning veterans as they seek the comfort of others returning from service and the strength to reintegrate successfully into their community at home.
This year’s event was chaired by Karen Brown, Sr. Vice President of First Bank, and hosted by actress Alison Haislip, sideline commentator for ABC’s “Battlebots” and celebrated pop culture TV, podcasting and webcasting personality. Other elected officials in attendance were California State Senator Robert Hertzberg, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Laurene West, Los Angeles City Council Member Paul Krekorian, and Santa Clarita City Council Members Bob Keller and Marsha McLean.