Seniors at Steinmetz Senior Center help homeless

Seniors at the Steinmetz Senior Center in Hacienda Heights are collecting donations for the East SGV Coalition for the Homeless. The thoughtful residents will assemble bags of essentials today at 1:00 p.m.

The coalition runs the winter shelter program. Last year, the 13-week program, which runs from Dec. 1 to March 15, served about 17,000 homeless people. Of that, 1,400 stayed at a shelter only once.

Shelter organizers expect those figures to remain the same this time around.

“With the economy the way it is you would probably anticipate there’d be more people but we never know for certain,” said Bob McKennon, the coalition’s organizer. “I would think we’re going to have at least the same number we had last year.”

Area churches house about 170 homeless a night, McKennon said.

“It’s a very important program in many ways because of all the different services that are available to them and we are able to get some of these people off the street permanently as a result of what we do,” McKennon said.

The shelter will continue at St. Dorothy’s Catholic Church, 241 W. Valley Center Drive, Glendora, Dec. 17 to Jan. 2; Glenkirk Presbyterian Church, 1700 E. Palopinto, Glendora, Jan. 3-17; First Chinese Baptist Church, 1555 Fairway Drive, Walnut, Jan 18 to Feb. 1; St. Martha’s Catholic Church, 444 N. Azusa Ave., Valinda, Feb. 2-14; St. Matthew’s Methodist Church, 15653 Newton St., Hacienda Heights, Feb. 15-29; and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1835 Larkvane Road, Rowland Heights, March 1-15.

Missing from the list is long-time participant St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Hacienda Heights, which had to cancel the church’s homeless shelter this year after the its sanctuary was destroyed by arson fire in April.

The church has been housing homeless since 1993 and has always had the largest number of homeless attend the winter shelter program, said McKennon, a St. John Vianney Church member.

“The average of each night was as many as 220 homeless people when the weather was bad,” McKennon said. “On the average night was 190 to 200 a night.”

The First Chinese Baptist Church will fill the slot.

“We expect to have a very sizable number come to the First Chinese Baptist Church,” McKennon said.

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