ENGAGE Magazine - Volume 2 - Spring 2023

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SPRING 2023 ISSUE LUTHERAN SOCIAL SERVICES SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA INSIDE • Samba with the Savior • Housing Counseling 101 • Being In The Right Headspace • The Value of Volunteers Today


We are so pleased that many people, like Marie Hinz from North Carolina, have written to say that they enjoyed the first issue of ENGAGE Magazine. “Please be sure to keep my name on the list to receive ENGAGE,” she said. As someone who used to live, work and attend church in Riverside near our LSSSC office, she shared she “likes keeping up on what’s going on in Southern California.”

Thank you for continuing to send your thoughts, comments, and photos. We will publish them as we can. As you see in the three photos displayed from readers, many (including LSSSC staff) sent in photos to share how they visited someone they care about during February’s shut-in awareness advocacy day.

Thank you also for sharing our advertising rate card on page 29 with businesses and organizations you know who want to reach up to 10,000 online and print copy readers. This type of support from like-minded businesses will truly help LSSSC continue to bring you the magazine each quarter.

In this issue, we hope you will enjoy the firsthand account of Pastor Scottie Lloyd describing his personal experience with the nationwide effort to count the unhoused. The insight he shares about making personal contact with those who are without shelter truly highlights what LSSSC has come to know. Each individual has a different reason behind their story. Many, as you will learn, have suffered traumatic events. We believe sharing these stories helps to erase stigma and enforce how impacting just one life has ripple effects in our community that transcend time and generations.

It reminds me of The Tale of The Starfish, a story that many of us have heard before. So impactful, it bears resharing. It all started when…

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied. "Well, I made a difference for that one!”

The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.

How more valuable than a starfish is just one person in each of our communities? Your support, no matter how small or large, for organizations like LSSSC, helps us get that much closer to helping all in So Cal who need it.

Our dream for ENGAGE is to inspire others to join in the worthy work of creating community wellness.



From her birth in Recife but raised in Salvador, the fourth largest city in Brazil, to finding her way to the U.S. at the age of 19, Kedma Wenz has spent her whole life as a musician/singer, using it as a platform for good that has changed the world. The causes and non-profits she support are as varied as the musical styles and languages she speaks.

She is fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and English. She’s recorded professional music in all three languages, with albums ranging from samba, bossa nova, jazz, praise & worship, and more. One of her accomplishments she’s most proud of is being the first Christian artist to be recorded at Paramount Recording Studios. Paramount, in Hollywood, has recorded some of the world’s most famous legends such as Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Celine Dion. While her music is enjoyed around the world, this female powerhouse invests her time, talent, and treasure in what she says is "simply sharing the grace of God that has been shared with me.”

Those from Brazil might find her a modern-day version of their female heroine Maria Firmina dos Reis. Almost 30 years before slavery was banned in Brazil in 1888, Firmina wrote the country’s first abolitionist novel, Ursula, in 1859. She also published critical essays, poems, short stories and wrote abolitionist songs. She also founded the first free and racially integrated school in Brazil before the abolition of slavery.

Wenz, who writes and records songs, uses all the royalties from her records in a fashion eerily similar to Firmina.

Wenz, in fact, has personally set about supplying more than 300 schoolchildren each year in the Amazon region with the ability to receive an education. “It’s hard for others to comprehend that attending school in modern-day Brazil is not a right but a privilege,” she explains. “Without a uniform, books, shoes and school supplies, a child is literally not allowed to attend school.” The royalties also go towards a project to build a new school called “Fazenda Agua da Fonte" in Belem - in the Amazon river area where transportation is only conducted by boat.

Every October, Wenz can also be found marching and praying on the streets of San Diego as an advocate for the organization A21.org. They holds the well-known Walk for Freedom seeking to abolish modern slavery with each step. “A21 goes to places, like San Diego, that are known centers for human trafficking, and I’m compelled each October to open with singing before the walk and then in silence and prayer carry signs that let people know that slavery is alive and well in the United States and we must fight to end it.”

Feisty and funny, she’s been the mother of five children in a blended family in Riverside, CA, for the last 16 years. Wenz, who refers to her family as the “Brady Bunch with a Brazilian twist”, met her current husband Paul Wenz, a Lutheran Missouri Synod Pastor through the nudge of others. The pastor’s wife, of her then non-denominational


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LUTHERAN CURSILLO OF SO. CAL. – Cursillo means “A short course” and literally is a “short course in Christian Living.” It is a 3-day, intensive study and experience of how to better live life as a Christian. The weekends are led by a team of Cursillistas (one who has attended a past Cursillo) of about 50-60 people. The team consists of lay directors, clergy, musicians and cooks. There is no sponsorship from any of the main governing bodies of the different synods of the Lutheran Church. Weekends are held at Cursillo House in Pomona, CA with about 25 pilgrims in attendance. https://lcsocal.org/ Read more on the next page.

A21.ORG – Rallying around the world because an estimated 5.4 out of every 1,000 people are enslaved in the world. There are more people enslaved today than at any other time in history. Human trafficking generates an average of $150 billion per year. There are an estimated 40.3 million people enslaved right now. https:// www.a21.org/content/human-trafficking/gqe0rc

LOVELIFE.ORG – Follows a 4-step journey found in Nehemiah chapters 1-3 to lead the Church of Christ to repentance and obedience in order to “rebuild the walls ”in our cities. This is practically played out when a church Adopts a Week and walks through the 4 steps of Hear, Pray, Go, and Connect.

MINISTRY OF BLANCA MADIRIGAL – Raises awareness and funds to assist with food and education in Baja California by engaging local businesses & churches from all denominations. Wenz’s song, "Dios de mi Esperanza", from her project "Conduce", is the theme song of Madrigal’s TV program. Royalties from the song supports food & education in Rosarito. The show, "Mexico Y Sus Contrastes" broadcasts from Rosarito, BC, and can be viewed Saturdays at 11AM on Television 73 out of Estatal, Mexico. https://www.cnrnoticias.tv/

MINISTRY OF SISTER SHERRIE – This group led by 83-year-old nun and founder Sherrie, serves the homeless, sex-workers and other vulnerable people all over San Diego county. For 25 years they’ve shared a simple message – “There is no shame when coming to Jesus”. They can be found singing with people, feeding them, praying with them, and blessing them every Thursday in Presidio Park in Old Towne San Diego. On Saturdays you’ll find them back north in the City of Ramona feeding the unhoused.

church, set about (without her knowledge) to find her “a good Christian man to date."

“When I went to delete the profile they had set up about me, I did take a look. Who wouldn’t have?” explained Wenz. “I accidentally clicked and sent my email address to a single father raising three kids on his own. I wasn’t interested in dating anyone, especially a pastor like my first husband had been.”

“Well, it took a while for me to respond, and on Father’s Day that year, I sent him a message wishing him well. He invited me to his church to hear him preach. After that, we became good friends, and God did a number on both our hearts to eventually marry. At the time, our kids were 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9 just like the Brady’s. After all these years of marriage I still believe the Lord answered my friends’ prayers for me. He truly is the definition of a “nice Christian guy."

Her husband Paul Wenz, who pastored Faith Lutheran Church in Riverside for 15 years, beams when he shares about his wife’s music and ministries. He recently accepted a calling as head Pastor at the Emanuel Lutheran Church in Santa Barbara. With the last of their children graduating from high school this year, Kedma has stayed behind temporarily in Riverside until the school year ends. Committed to both family and the congregation, Kedma commutes to Santa Barbara on the weekends, and Paul commutes to Riverside to spend two days together most weeks.

(Continued on Page 8)


It wasn’t an easy road to becoming the international singing star, mother of five, and the ministry “rockstar” Wenz is today. “ I was born Kedma Perreira N de Castro and raised by a mom who was a simple homemaker and my dad an HVAC specialist,” she recalls emotionally. “My dad valued education so much that he took a job as a janitor at the local University to earn free tuition towards a degree in Chemical Engineering. He had to eventually drop out to earn money and care for our family. He did go on to have a professional career. Yet, it was his love of music that influenced me most.”

“From the time I was 3 years old, my dad had me up front in church singing with him, and I fell in love with that microphone. I remember as a small child thinking 'that is what every child does.' However, when I reached 10 years old, I realized I was different. My musical family was different. My dad was a great songwriter, and he even went on to win local awards for composing. Because of him, I have loved Jesus my whole life.”

From those early years singing with her father, Wenz then went on to tour Northeast Brazil as one of six singers in an all-girls a capella group called Christal. Touring and singing at churches and various venues gave her the opportunity to do what she loved most, teaching younger kids to sing and play music. A value she shared with her own children, each was asked to take musical instrument lessons for one year and see if they liked it. “Two of them have kept playing, so I think it paid off pretty well,” she boasts.

From there, she was offered the opportunity to attend Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA, on a scholarship sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph in the City of Orange. And, with no formal training in English, she taught herself by literally “doing my assignments.” She later earned a 3-year scholarship to Cal State University Long Beach in music for her grades and ability to write lyrics. She now holds A.A. Degrees in Voice, Sound Reinforcement, Latino Studies & International Business Administration, and a B.S. Degree in Healthcare with a minor in Business Studies.

Her professional recording career began as interestingly as her life. While at her cousin’s house one day, he taped her singing one of her favorite Christian songs, Tell Your Heart To Beat Again, with her teenage daughter Kiana on guitar. “He sent it off, and the next thing you know I got a call from recording label Melody International asking me to record in studio.” That album led to the production of a contemporary Christian album by the name of Conduz. She had also just finished a Brazilian Jazz CD project.

The COVID-19 pandemic did offer setbacks to the bubbly Brazilian. She was set for a five-country tour including Brazil and European countries such as the Netherlands, England and Belgium in May of 2020. She had just come back from a 14-day concert tour at 17 churches in San Paulo when she got the news in March 2020 that it all had been canceled.

In 2022, she had the opportunity to try to rebuild the tour but selflessly stayed in the States to care for a cousin who’d been diagnosed with cancer. “She lived just an hour away, and it was my joy to be able to help care for her,” shares Wenz.

“Praise be His name, she is now well, and I’ll be back out on the road with my music when the Lord is ready for me to go.”

In the meantime, she has been busy with ministry and music. Wenz is getting ready to record five new songs with lyrics provided by others. She’s translated the copyrighted songs from Portuguese to Spanish and plans to be back in the studio this year. She was asked to perform at the Lutheran Church of the Missouri Pacific Southwest Synods’ Conference in Las Vegas, where she was heard by more than 2000 in attendance and transmitted online performing her own Samba arrangement of Great Is Thy Faithfulness in Portuguese and English.

A fitting song as a Samba, which is known as a Brazilian dance of African origin. Like her life of learning to rely on staying close to God and springing back from challenges – the dance has a basic pattern of step-close-step-close and is also characterized by a dip and spring upward at each beat of the music. “God has given me the grace to go with Him where others don’t usually go with both my music and my ministry”.

“If I’ve learned one thing, walking this road of life that hasn’t always been easy – it’s that praise and worship is a serious matter. You gotta’ pray in good times and in bad times. And, no matter what, we always have reason to offer praise."

Her music and videos are everywhere – iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube. To learn more about Kedma Wenz or sample her deep contralto tones and music, please visit: https://www.instagram.com/kedmawenz/ and https:// www.facebook.com/kedmawenzoficial/ To view video of the school she is building in Brazil: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=-J-qGV0je04

(Continued from Page 7) 8 | ENGAGE MAGAZINE - WINTER 2023


“To explain Cursillo to someone who hasn’t experienced it is, at best, difficult. It’s not because Cursillo is a secret, but because it is a living experience that you must encounter firsthand,” shares a pilgrim from the women's Lutheran Cursillo of Southern California weekend #178 in Pomona, CA.

Cursillo, a short course in Christianity, began in the Roman Catholic Church. It began when a group of men in the 1940s dedicated themselves to bringing the young men of Mallorca, Spain, to know Christ better. It developed as they prayed and worked together, sharing their thoughts about the state of the world and the effectiveness of their efforts to bring the light of Christ to it. Until 1961, all Cursillos were offered only in Spanish. Today’s Cursillos use much of that same imagery, terms and words like “palanca” and “ultreya” and welcome one another with “DeColores”, a reference to a traditional Spanish folk song.

Cursillo in the United States began when two Spanish pilots were in America in 1958. Cursillo is now in many states as well as Europe, Canada, Australia and South America. It is practiced by many denominations, sometimes under different names in separate groups for both men and women.

The Faith Walk movement is the Baptist version. There are many other protestant versions, such as Presbyterian Cursillo. Since 1978, a highly life-changing version of the movement called Kairos Inside has been held in prisons throughout California Kairos is Greek for "God’s special time." The program is offered to men and women in 13 CA state correctional institutions and California-based federal prisons.

Lutheran Cursillo of Southern California held its first set of weekends in June 1990. LCSC was

developed from other three-day movements, such as Episcopal Cursillo and Walk to Emmaus (Methodist). LCSC uses Lutheran Theology and is led by Lutheran Clergy. You must be an active member at a Lutheran church to attend.

Via de Cristo, a Spanish phrase meaning "Way of Christ", is another version of the Cursillo Movement developed and practiced elsewhere in the US. Although it uses Lutheran theology, it is ecumenical and includes attendees from outside the Lutheran church.

Whether a Walk to Emmaus, Kairos, Cursillo or Via de Cristo, the basis for all weekends are fourteen or fifteen talks, some given by lay people and five by clergy. Following each talk, small round table discussions focus on the main points of the talk and a poster is done. There is music and singing, food and fellowship. There is time for laughter, and most importantly, time for prayer.

The purpose remains the same: to turn out authentic witnesses capable of influencing their environment. The method as well: (1) the stimulating three days experience which highlights what is fundamental to being a Christian, and (2) the fostering and support of "groupings" and "ultreyas" (less frequent meetings in larger groups).

“The church sponsored me to attend at a time in my life when after years of service to others, I was burned out and out of touch with the roots of my Christian Faith. I had no idea where I was even going. Just the thought of getting away for three days sounded so refreshing. It became a turning point in my life. The people and the strength I encountered have supplied me with the deep roots and love needed to run the good race until the end” concluded the pilgrim from weekend #178.



(HUD 2022)


With the help of housing counseling services, over households purchased a home. 35,000 households improved their home conditions or home affordability More than 11,000 households that received one-on-one counseling also received group education services. 147,000+ More than households obtained a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). 28,000 households improved their housing situation. 158,000 Over households prevented or resolved a mortgage default. 30,000 More than households learned about fair housing, fair lending, and/or accessibility rights. 328,000 Nearly households obtained temporary or permanent housing to temporarily end or avoid homelessness. 6,000 Nearly households improved their living conditions in their rental units. 29,000 Over households accessed resources to improve their quality of life. 60,000 households avoided eviction. 22,000 Close to Over households developed a budget that will support their housing goals. 466,000 households improved their financial capacity. 145,000 Over More than REACH their HOUSING GOALS HELPS PEOPLE HOUSING COUNSELING This data is populated with Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 HUD-Form 9902 Data: Section 10 Outcomes. Program Outcome Office of Housing Counseling Updated with FY 2021 Q4 Cumulative Data With the help of housing counseling services, over households purchased a home. 35,000 households improved their home conditions or home affordability. 11,000 households that received
than households obtained a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM).
also received group
services. 147,000+ More
housing situation. Over households prevented or resolved a mortgage default. 30,000 Nearly households obtained temporary or permanent housing to temporarily end or avoid homelessness. 6,000 living Over households accessed resources to improve their quality of life. 60,000 households avoided eviction.
Close to households improved their financial capacity. 145,000 Over More than REACH their HOUSING GOALS HELPS PEOPLE This data is populated with Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 HUD-Form 9902 Data: Section 10 Outcomes. 10 | ENGAGE MAGAZINE - WINTER 2023


Lack of affordable housing and volatile mortgage rates in Southern California are some of the biggest challenges facing our communities. We all have different thoughts and opinions on how to solve the problem. Yet few know little about a very effective government program formed in 1968 that has proven to make a difference.

For more than 55 years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has partnered with local agencies to help families and individuals stabilize their lives through a widespread initiative to offer Housing Counseling. Today in Southern California, there are more than 41 HUD-approved sites offering these services including Lutheran Social Services of Southern California (LSSSC) representing more than 12% of total sites.

What Is Housing Counseling? - Housing

Counseling is a federally funded program providing individual counseling sessions, group education, and live workshops for free. They are designed to help citizens address all kinds of housing needs. They also help them maintain quality affordable housing and learn more about housing options. Certified housing counselors provide this education along with vital resources like information on:

• First-time homebuyers mortgages

• Keys to successful ownership

• Foreclosure prevention

• Understanding rental agreements

• In-depth financial literacy and more

Why Housing Counseling Is Important

in Your Community? - The reality is that buying a home is a big decision. It is often complicated and overwhelming. The process involves countless decisions on mortgage types, lender options, offer negotiations, home inspections, and insurances. The list goes on and on.

First time buyers must deal with rejections, deal with multiple parties, struggle to understand financial transparency, and face difficult transitions. It is deeply personal. It’s logical that an educated counselor is needed to help guide and support someone through the process.

For families with limited resources, it is even more important to make a decision that best benefits their financial position and allows them to continue meeting their family’s needs. Among the easily overlooked dealing with these processes are:

• Low-income households

• Immigrant households

• Those with language barriers

• Those with less than perfect credit histories

• And other historically marginalized people

These systemic barriers make homebuying an even more challenging process for a lot of our neighbors, friends, and community members. For example, according to a NeighborWorks America study, the average Hispanic and African American homebuyer can expect to be required to pay a minimum of 20% down on a home when the national average for all homebuyers is only 6%.

It’s hard to root out all the causes of such disparities, especially knowing that many first-time homebuyers are eligible for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan for a downpayment of only 3.5%. Housing Counseling works at its most basic level by educating and arming as many potential buyers with facts like these.

Lutheran Social Services in ActionHousing Counseling has been a natural program for LSSSC to offer for the last three years in our mission to serve vulnerable populations. Our Housing Counseling program has primarily served two of the most densely populated counties in the state (Orange County


and Los Angeles County) and now also serves San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties.

Each year, LSSSC provides more than 700 hours of housing counseling to community members. Of the total served in 2021-2022:

• 3% received First Time Homebuyer Counseling

• 35% accessed Foreclosure Prevention Counseling

• 12% received Housing Counseling While Homeless

• 45% received Renter’s Counseling

• 6% received Post Home Purchase Counseling & Education as non-delinquent homeowners.

Voices From The Community – Southern California homeowners certainly faced challenges keeping up with mortgages both during and post pandemic. This is especially significant considering foreclosure rates rose 116% in California during the pandemic. In fact, California is now ranked eighth among the highest foreclosure rates by state, according to ATOM Data . As the most populated state in the U.S., there is one foreclosure in every 3,494 California households.

Many, like program participants Monica and Maria, had desperately been working on applying for a loan modification to avoid foreclosure. They had reported that they’d even spent precious funds hiring various for-profit agencies trying to simplify the process. It had only complicated their ability to access options.

By the time they reached LSSSC Housing Counseling Services in Fullerton, CA, they were beginning to lose hope. Monica and Maria received immediate help to identify their family's exact needs. They were also able to fully understand and choose from all feasible options. After several in-person meetings and phone appointments with their LSSSC counselor, they were successfully approved for the California Mortgage Relief program, preventing foreclosure.

“They were attentive to our questions and empathetic to our family’s situation. We’re extremely grateful for all their help and guidance. It’s been a relief to my family to be able to receive consultation about all our concerns over our housing situation. And, to be treated with respect. At times, it was overwhelming to think about potentially losing our home. Housing Counseling has helped empower me and my family to do the best we can. The guidance received helped us not lose hope,” shared Maria in an interview about her experience with the program.


More Reasons Why - Housing Counseling services extend far beyond homebuying and loan education. One of the key components of the program is to increase each participant's financial literacy. They also leave understanding the impact that credit and debt have on the overall financial health of their household.

The program addresses homeownership maintenance and financial longevity– such as caring for and remaining in their homes. Common challenges include unexpected costs from family emergencies that make paying mortgages more difficult. Under stress, homeowners can often rush into making decisions due to stress or can fall for fraudulent schemes.

Whether you rent or own a home, the building you live in is your home. It should and can be a place of sanctuary. When the very places our neighbors and citizens dwell in are in jeopardy, it requires all of us to care that such sanctuary is available to others. Your support and advocacy for free HUD Housing Counseling Programs help to fulfill LSSSC's mission to share the love of Christ as expressed in Isaiah 32:18:

April is National Fair Housing Month celebrating the Fair Housing Act passed on April 11, 1968. The Fair Housing Act was signed by President Johnson as a law designed to protect Americans from facing discrimination in selling or buying houses. It was passed after the death of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was in Memphis on April 4, 1968, to support the sanitation workers strike when he was shot and killed. As a result of the tragedy, Congress passed the 1968 Fair Housing Act.


1. Attend activities in your community that support ending discrimination.

To access help with Housing Counseling or to learn more see: https://lssschousing.org/

For a complete list of Fair Housing Rights in California see: https://calcivilrights.ca.gov/housing/

2. Welcome people of different backgrounds to your neighborhood. Give a warm welcome to people moving in your community or belonging to a different background, age, race, culture, marital status, color and more.

3. Arrange seminars that create awareness about housing discrimination. Promote awareness. Let people know about this issue, and encourage them to raise their voices against it.

April is National Fair Housing Awareness Month



We are all constantly gaining inspiration from the work our favorite charities do. Their ceaseless drive to change our communities for the better is what gives us hope for the future. Sometimes saying “thank you” does not truly express just how much we care and how much we appreciate the impact they make.

When you consider making Planned Gifts to them, it is a proactive action of love and an expression of gratefulness as you include your beloved charities in your endof-life plans. Planned Giving allows us the opportunity to express our support in ways that are honoring, transformational, and inspiring.

When contemplating planned giving, we not only consider our family, but our family of community and our congregation.

All of us want to support the mission of our favorite organizations now and can also do so in perpetuity by learning how. When we make this type of gift, it clearly facilitates the generosity of our hearts. It clarifies what matters most to us and continues our service to those we love, even after death.

You might think that planned giving is only for those with an “estate”. The truth is everyone has an estate, no matter how valuable the assets are. All gifts are great! Even the smallest gift is a sign of your generous heart and adds to the overall stability of your charity’s financial position. It also inspires others to do the same.

Navigating an approach to planned giving can be challenging for all of us. There are many strategies to consider, and each donor’s circumstances and intentions are different.


Here’s some action you can take today:

1. Write down why your heart is connected to the mission of your favorite organization(s)

2. Share your list with a planned giving specialist. They’ll help you focus on: a) what you want to achieve b) how it will be carried out with creativity c) what is the tax efficiency

3. Once you have the goal in mind, ask for support from: a) your CPA b) your financial advisor and c) your attorney.

4. Let them know they are members of your “generosity team” to ensure that they are “all on the same page”. Together they can help you execute your intent exactly as you envision.

A word of caution: The best planned gift can be derailed by procrastination! Make the changes needed to support your beloved organizations while you can with a clear heart and mind. Contemplating the crossroads of death and money may sound painful. The joy of knowing your plan is secure, and the knowledge of your gift having lasting impact are worth it!




After decades as a high-level business professional, Claire Sekafetz retired and thought volunteering would be “a way to stay busy." Today, Claire personally runs a vast network of volunteers serving a center for homeless men in the city of San Bernardino.

“ I was invited to help serve a meal at the Central City Lutheran Mission (CCLM) in San Bernardino. This homeless center relies on different churches to bring Sunday night dinner to the men that live there. The invitation was clearly for me to help in the kitchen; however, when I arrived, more than enough volunteers had come from the church, and they did not need me in the kitchen. So, they said I should go out into the dining room and mingle with the clients.

It was 2011, and I was shocked and very afraid as I had never spoken to or even come near a homeless person in my life. I had always volunteered at various agencies. Every year, I would even serve Thanksgiving dinner. However, I always worked behind the scenes. When I said to the person who invited me, 'What should I be doing', her effortless answer impacted me deeply. 'Just say a prayer.' So I did," recalls Claire.

"I walked into the dining area and saw a man sitting with his back to the front of the dining hall. I went up to his table and sat down across from him. He never looked up at me. He was eating with his hands. He was the most ragged person I had ever seen. I was very nervous," she described.

"I said 'Hi' and told him my name. He made a sound like a grunt. 'Lord this is not going well,' I thought. I paused a few seconds and then said, 'tell me about yourself.' He slowly began speaking and telling me his story. He still hadn't looked up at me. He talked for about 20 minutes. When he was done speaking, he looked up at me. There were tears in his eyes. He said 'thank you, lady. No one has asked me about me in 20 years.' He got up, walked out the door, and I never saw him again," she remembers.

"That moment changed my life. His story was tragic and what he had been through would have broken down the best of us. I realized that he had a life before his tragic turn of events. He was just like me…and then it all changed.

Claire continues, "That was the beginning of my commitment to work with the homeless in whatever way I could. I knew then that I had to become involved. I know I helped him just by his response. He really helped me see the reality of someone who is experiencing homelessness. I now have a sense of urgency to do whatever I can, for as long as I am able."

"Lutheran Social Services prioritizes the disenfranchised, vulnerable, and displaced people in the communities where we serve. I am very thankful to be part of that team."

Do want to be part of a story like Claire's? Are you willing to join the 5,697,252 formal volunteers in the state of California who together contributed 379.2 million hours of service through

organizations like LSSSC? (Americorps 2021 Report) Together that service was worth an estimated $13.5 billion.

Your spare time may be more valuable than you think. It is not just in dollars, but it is valuable to the people you directly help by serving as a volunteer at one of LSSSC's locations throughout Southern California. To sign up or find out more see: https:// www.lsssc.org/volunteer/.














Celebrate National Volunteer Month in April.



Homelessness has a face and place, but often unseen for many reasons. For some well-meaning folks, those experiencing homelessness are understood from a distance by chance or choice. But once a year people get an opportunity to experience homelessness personally.

Recently an army of volunteers roamed their communities’ seeking individuals and families living in ravines, battered vehicles, against abandoned storefronts, sidewalks, and makeshift encampments, wherever society temporarily allows their presence. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires all communities that receive federal funding for homeless programs to conduct a count of homeless individuals, which includes personal interviews. Allow me to share my experience during “counts” in San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

It’s 5 a.m. in San Bernardino, dark, cold, and our 4-person team sees our first person rolled up in a dirty, ragged sleeping bag up against a storefront in a rough neighborhood. We approach carefully and announce who we are and that we bear gifts. An old man rolls over and peers up at us with a dazed look. We try to communicate. His eyes dart back and forth processing what we represent. Suddenly, one of our team members cries out, “Uncle?”. Dropping to his knees, he embraces the still silent man. Tears flow, and they hold each other in a rocking motion. The old man’s few words and behavior indicate he is not coherent or capable of recognizing his nephew. Our team member tells us he has been hunting for his uncle on the streets for years. It’s obvious the old man will not be able to answer our questions, so we leave some gifts, ‘count him’, and thank him. Before departing, his nephew asks his uncle what he can do for him. The old man whispers, “I’m cold. My hands are cold.” His nephew, taking off his brand new gloves he bragged to us about earlier in the car, places them on his uncle’s gnarled hands. Then he kisses him and promises to return. This man looks 80, but the nephew tells us he is 55. He is way younger than me.

We continue our early morning journey. We discover a vacant lot with four tents, one at each corner of the square. A young man emerges from one of the tents and identifies himself as a former resident of my home state in the Midwest. He tells us his brother is in the tent catacorner from us. They came to California for their mother’s funeral

and now have no money left to return home. They are camped out and wondering what to do.

Later, we meet a family of four, crowded in a small tent crammed underneath a freeway overpass and beside a couple of other makeshift dwellings. It is a small encampment. The ‘residents’ have clearly been there for a long time. One of the children jumps out of the tent and scurries down the uneven cement culvert to the sewage ditch and relieves himself. Milk jugs filled with water circle the area. They are more than willing to be interviewed for the chance to receive a $10 gift card and get a ‘goodies bag’ of street-living necessities.

The day drags on until the sun is high and hot. There never seems to be an end to finding more people desperately scratching for survival. Some run from us in fear of eviction or being abused. Others welcome conversation since most ‘normal folks’ refuse to speak with them. One man is a military veteran and is unaware of special help available to him. With his permission, I provide his name and information to a special resource for homeless vets. By days end, he will be housed and have multiple services offered. He thanks me repeatedly.

We move on to another wandering fellow. He is trying to find a new place to sleep for later that night. We conclude our interviews at 11 a.m. The count is at 15 people, but we pass many more uncounted souls. Both Federal and local officials know this is a snapshot in time – a bare minimum of human homelessness.

This year, I volunteered to help with the Point-InTime Count in San Diego County. It is another team of four: a couple of local residents, an observer, and myself. It’s 4:30 a.m., dark and cold. It is January, the usual month for these interview counts. I ask, 'why do we do this during the winter?' Most reply that it fits the Federal budget cycle. Local officials have until May to deposit their data, and HUD has 3-4 months to gather the information nationwide. The process is done by September and the new fiscal year begins October 1st. The money is released and, hopefully, improvements occur. In January, a new Point-In-Time Count will be made, and the cycle will repeat itself.


We drive behind buildings, check parks, and peer into vehicle windows that look like overnight shelter. We watch for the ‘walking homeless,' those have no place they feel safe at during the night. They walk in circles under lighted areas of 24-hour businesses. They will find places when the sun is up to rest and feel safer.

Our first stop is a ravine along a heavily wooded drainage creek. Thankfully, there’s some parking lot lights nearby. We meet a ‘family’ of indigenous folks from a branch of the Kumeyaay tribe, displaced from their home in the mountains. "Can’t be homeless in the mountains,” relates one man. “There’s snow up there. It’s cold here, but livable.” The man tells me that he and his sister exist in their rugged tent until Monday. Then they must find another place because they have been here a month. The police have ordered them to leave or be forced out. He and his family are kind people who answer our questions and continue to converse about their lives. Everyone wears layered clothes – their entire wardrobe. A woman walks up to us in house slippers with a coat that is dirty and smells. She smokes a cigarette. She cannot sleep, she says. She is ready to talk to get a $10 food card. It’s worth two meals for her. The socks we give her are badly needed.

Another person we approach is so quiet, still and mysteriously rolled up in a tattered blanket. We are not sure if he is dead or alive. Coins of various denominations are scattered around him. We shout and shout to get his attention, but no response, no snoring, no noise. We are not allowed to touch him. We count him and mark the location for follow-up help.

Our last visit of the morning is a dancing young man in his 30s with all his belongings in a garbage bag next to him. He’s a kind, affable man who appears to be unable to stop dancing, twitching or moving. He readily answers our questions. He tries, but shares a challenged grasp with communication and perhaps with reality. When we leave, he resumes his sidewalk dance singing an occasional song.

More counts will be made of homeless individuals. A week is set aside to count the young (17-24), who are very difficult to reach. I am told by officials that the rewards are advertised. They are "for the taking" if the youth will come to a central location and be interviewed. It garners many and misses some. Another group of helpers will count the homeless in shelters and other institutions. Finally, more trained folks will follow up on the results we one-day volunteers have accumulated by checking unresponsive people and vehicles. All the data will be gathered, organized, and sent to HUD.

Every time I have joined this community effort, I have come away changed. The written stories and

statistics meld into a flesh-and-blood person with a life. Many times, I have seen the face of Jesus among the homeless. It is one of the reasons why I volunteer with Lutheran Social Services of Southern California. Their mission at some 15 ministry sites across six Southern California counties provides Christ-motivated shelters and services to unhoused, troubled, youth, and many more. A standout example in the San Bernardino community is the Central City Lutheran Mission, an LSSSC Wellness Campus with an initiative to build a bigger and better facility for homeless men by 2025. They are provided transportation to medical facilities, job interviews, other appointments and supportive services while they reach healing and recovery.

If you want an encounter with individuals experiencing homelessness in a vitally helpful way, look for information on the January Point-In-Time Count. You can sign-up in your county of residence to participate. People of all ages join in this effort. You may even see the face of Jesus and change your life. Meanwhile, please engage and support the local initiatives in your community that house and help. Consider joining LSSSC in its efforts to go beyond counting. You can offer real-world help and recovery to homeless individuals including those you might encounter. I guarantee that your efforts can change a life and even your own.





As we all celebrate one of the newest national holidays declared in 2021, Juneteenth, there are no living persons who remember experiencing June 19, 1865. However, there are those who vividly recall its celebration and importance while living here today in California.

Many Californians born in Texas have known the day was celebrated for over a century and a half as the day those who were slaves in Texas first learned of their emancipation. Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger had landed at Galveston, Texas, with news the war had ended and that the slaves were now free. News had traveled slow and the war was already over. It had been more than three years since the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed.

Those African American Californians among us who are celebrated centenarians have memories of their own family and community celebrations of Juneteenth dating as far back as the 1920s. One such person is Dorothy Maye Gaithers of Placentia, CA, who was born in Jefferson, Texas, in February of 1921.

“My great-aunt has lived to be 102 years old. Although not enslaved herself, she was raised by those who had known its dishonorable legacy. She has lived through segregation in the South. First as a high school student and then as a college student,” says Lutheran Social Services of Southern California’s Chief Operating Officer, Tiffany Mitchell, Psy.D.

Born in Texas as the third and youngest child of Robert and Eva Spencer Jordan, Dorothy spent time on a farm with her maternal grandparents, who shared stories and family history. An extremely bright child, when her family moved to Dallas, Texas, Dorothy was allowed to skip second grade. Later as a student at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, Dorothy auditioned for the prestigious school choir, The Ambassadors. She was placed in the soprano section and enjoyed performances at school and in the community. She transferred to Abraham Lincoln High School which was the second high school in Dallas built for "Blacks". Dorothy was in the first graduating class in June 1939.

Her high school academic success earned her a scholarship to Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. As a freshman, Dorothy became a soloist in the renowned Tuskegee Choir, directed by William L. Dawson. She majored and excelled in home economics and social studies. While there, she was known as a leader and even served breakfast to the renowned scientist, Dr. George Washington Carver who was a professor, researcher, and head of the Agricultural Department at Tuskegee.

"Texas was the first state to officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday, in 1979. Prior to that Blacks had celebrated Juneteenth unofficially since 1865 when they finally received news of their freedom. I remember the celebrations as very festive occasions with family and friends. Activities included music, games, popping small firecrackers, story/joke telling and feasting on rich foods including BBQ , homemade ice cream and red soda water," Dorothy remembers.



This year, we encourage Southern Californians to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved African Americans, and actively take part in one of the many 2023 Juneteenth activities in our communities. Here is a list of a few below.


What : 2nd Annual Juneteenth Celebration –“Stomp the Yard” Edition

Where: SB Valley College 701 S. Mount Vernon Ave., San Bernardino, CA

When: Saturday, June 17, 2023 - 10:00 a.m. –3:00 p.m.

Brings together the community in celebration of African American FREEDOM and HOPE. Free Event.


What: 3rd Annual Juneteenth Festival sponsored by Cal Lutheran & Community Active Resistance

Where: Kingsmen Park at Cal Lutheran University Campus, 60 West Olsen Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA

When: Sunday, June 18 starting at Noon

Food, music, games, performances, a Blackowned business market and family-friendly activities. Free Event. Info: 805-493-3483 or ccei@callutheran.edu.


What : Juneteenth Fest - Outdoor Event sponsored by the City of Long Beach

Where : Rainbow Lagoon Park, 400 E. Shoreline Dr. Long Beach, CA

When : Saturday, June 17, 2023 - 10:30 a.m.7:00 p.m.

Music. Food. Step Show. Art. Culture. Activations. Ticket Required. https://www. lbjuneteenth.com/


What : OC Juneteenth Festival sponsored by City of Santa Ana & OC Heritage Council

Where : Centennial Park , 3000 W Edinger Ave, Santa Ana, CA

When : Saturday, June 17 - 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Music, speakers, food & more. Free Festival. https://www.santa-ana.org/juneteenth/

What : 2nd Juneteenth Freedom Day Celebration & Gospel Breakfast sponsored by Love4Us.

Where: California State University San Bernardino, 5500 University Pkwy, San Bernardino, CA

When: Monday, June 19, 2023 - 9:00 a.m. –7:00 p.m.

Gospel Hour Power Breakfast. Tickets $50: https://bit.ly/3JDrGXn


What : Juneteenth Unity Celebration 2023 sponsored by SW Riverside. IEJC

Where: Centerpointe Church, 24470 Washington Ave. Murrieta, CA

When: Saturday, Jun 17, 2023, at 5:00 pm

Grammy Award Winning Israel Houghton and Newbreed close out the Juneteenth weekend celebration with a concert including Southwest Riverside Co. Community Choir. Tickets start $75. https://bit.ly/3JJy13H


What : 2nd Annual La Mesa Juneteenth & Friends sponsored by La Mesa Juneteenth Foundation

Where: MacArthur Park, 4975 Memorial Dr. La Mesa, CA

When: Sunday, June 18, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Free to all attendees. Volunteers needed. For more info: or to sign up: https://bit.ly/3nkVYqb


After graduation in 1944, Dorothy joined her parents in Los Angeles and pursued graduate studies at California State University and UCLA. She continued her love for singing as a soprano soloist in the Cathedral Choir at Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles where she later served on staff as Senior Services Coordinator. However, it was Dorothy’s professional career in social service spanning 43 years until her retirement in 1987 that became a huge inspiration to other women, even those in her family.

As a civil servant for the County of Los Angeles and later for the State of California, Dorothy excelled as a social worker, deputy probation officer, psychiatric social worker, social service consultant, licensing program analyst and program supervisor. She was one of the first to be honored with the State of California Legendary Service Award. After retiring from State service, Dorothy was a Manager for Crystal Stairs, a nonprofit child advocacy corporation. Dorothy’s volunteer experience included serving meals at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children at the Los Angeles Co. Juvenile Court.

In 2011, a scholarship was named in her honor and supported young people who have demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to social service. As a Christian, Dorothy believes that love in action is service. A woman of remarkable professional achievement, Dorothy is deeply spiritual and has been guided by one of her favorite Bible verses for over a century.

Her grandniece, Dr. Mitchell certainly agrees. “I grew up learning about my family’s history from my grandmother, who at 98 years old can still vividly tell me stories of how she and my Aunt Dorothy defied the odds and broke down many barriers that society had placed on them. Dorothy was a leader in the field of social services here in Southern California. I’ve been inspired, in part, to also study and work in this field from her example," she said.

“Juneteenth honors the symbolic end of slavery in the United States. However, for me it represents hidden heroes, like my great aunt who paved the way for three generations of descendants after her. I come from a long lineage of tenacious women and men who have not allowed the color of their skin or systemic injustices define the trajectory of their lives,” explained Dr. Mitchell.

Dorothy herself reflected back to 2021. “When I learned that Juneteenth had finally been declared a national holiday, I just felt relieved that our country could finally recognize and acknowledge the past persecution of Blacks in America and celebrate their importance, their equal value and contributions to the nation and to the world.”



May is celebrated as Mental Health Month across America, and what better time to consider taking your own internal assessment and look at how you’re feeling about your own mental health. You might also want to take a look at factors in your environment and living spaces that may be affecting your mental health.

One of the main organizations helping us celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month in Southern California is Mental Health America (MHA). MHA’s 2023 awareness campaign focuses on the way our physical surroundings – including our neighborhoods and built environments –impact both our individual and community mental health.

They're helping each of us answer tough questions like:

• What is a mentally healthy and safe space?

• How can I change my surroundings to support my mental health?

• What if I can’t control or change something unhealthy about my surroundings?

Don’t underestimate the importance of these important factors. For example, a recent study found that those who had access to natural spaces during the COVID-19 lockdowns had lower levels of stress and those that could view nature from home had reduced psychological distress (Ribeiro et al, 2021).


If a space is not yours to make big changes to, even doing simple things can help. If you don’t have a view of nature outside your window, try bringing nature inside. A potted plant, a tiny herb garden, or fresh flowers can give you a connection to the outdoors. Even a photo of nature can make a positive difference.

Aromatherapy can be used to make a happier space. Spritzing rose water or lavender or taking a whiff of your favorite essential oil can help. If you are sensitive to smells, create a scent-free environment. Even in a workspace, your coworkers will do their best to help – if you ask.

Still others find working with music in the background can improve


Let’s take a look at the physical environments you spend the most time in -- your home, work and living spaces. Here’s five tips.

1. Install specialty natural light lightbulbs. Face your desk towards outside light -- extremely important at work where you have less control over set-ups.

2. Utilize a quiet room or space. With open-plan spaces becoming the norm, it’s becoming harder to find quiet.

3. Make areas to play. Set up a small area for board games, yoga practice or activities that help reset your mind. If you create a space for it, you’re more likely to engage in it.

concentration and sense of well-being. Try different kinds of music to see which works best. At night, make your environment more conducive to rest with white noise especially if you live near night noise like a train, airport or busy freeway.

Finally, if you have someone among your family, friends or co-workers who has shared they are diagnosed with or dealing with a mental health issue, start a conversation during this Mental Health Month. You can work together with the person you care about to create shared spaces that help them feel safe and welcome too!

4. Avoid clutter. Decorate with items that bring you positive energy. If it brings you negative energy or brings up bad emotions – consider donating or ditching it.

5. Pet lovers should include formal plans for pet friendly areas. You don’t want your cat keyboard jumping during a Zoom call, but having a space for them nearby creates a calming factor.

For more tips to improve your physical environment for mental health or downloadable Mental Health Month resource kit, see: www. mhanational.org/mental-health-month




Hospitals and healthcare facilities are often epicenters of our Southern California communities. Besides the role they play in providing physical care and promoting healthy habits, many healthcare non-profits have a mission that includes caring for all members of the community, especially those in need.

Our own U.S. government, as far back as a 1969 tax ruling, has set the expectation that “charity care” must be provided in exchange for federal tax exemptions. The state of California further defines they must provide a minimum of 5% reduced or free services.

We often don't know about or recognize. We may be aware of things they do like community outreach and engagement: organizing health fairs, allowing community support groups to use hospital space for meetings, and more.

Here’s just a short list of what many do: a) vaccinations & testing; b) health education; c) free classes; d) outreach at schools & other groups; e) community produce gardens; f) host volunteers; g) health professions education; h) field sites for training; i) build/ sponsor low-income housing; j) support shelters with supplies/ health care; k) model green buildings; l) hire local residents; m) buy local supplies & foods; n) contract local service providers; o) run bus/van services; p) provide taxi vouchers for low-income patients & more.

Furthermore, many hospital foundations raise money for their own needs, they also award money in the form of community grants. The purpose is to support other organizations and charities that align with their hospitals focus areas in the community. One such hospital corporation is Kaiser Permanente. Each year they offer other non-profits the opportunity to apply for community grants, often ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

Hospitals also use their funds to form direct collaborations such as the one Lutheran Social Services of Southern California (LSSSC) has established through the financial support of Dignity Health. LSSSC is now the leader of a San Bernardino area collaboration between LSSSC, GeriSmiles Dental Health Foundation, and Spirit of Savior Lutheran Church. This partnership focuses on improving community access to care, oral health, and health literacy.

The collaboration with LSSSC will provide cost-free oral health care to their residents in emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing along with the community. This also includes oral cancer screening, pre and post-care coordination, health service resources as well as a Community Learning Lab to improve health literacy and sustain long-term health improvement.

With rising health care costs, what can we as individuals do to support and advocate for these important community programs?

First, you can be supportive by becoming a consumer of these services. Why not attend that health workshop the local hospital offers for free? You can also write to the hospital or health care organization and let them know you appreciate what they do in the community. Community feedback is really inspiring to them. You can also share literature and info on resources they provide at your community group, church or even with a neighbor or a friend.

Finally, one of the biggest ways you can support the efforts of non-profits and healthcare agencies to care for our community is to give your time, talent and treasure. You’ll be filling a funding and volunteer gap for a program. Let’s all ENGAGE to make sure these vital community programs remain in place for all of us, especially for our neighbors in need.



- National Institute of Health (Nov. 24, 2022)


Kaiser Permanente – The Neighborhood Outreach Program is a communitybased focusing on serving those experiencing homelessness in Riverside. To learn about all the ways Kaiser promotes community health in So. Cal. https://community.kp.org/


H Street Clinic - In San Bernardino, serves the needs of the community in harmony with Christ’s healing ministry. They provide comprehensive quality healthcare, especially for those who are vulnerable, and advocate social justice for all. https://www.cnhfclinics.org/


Dignity Health San Bernardino –Supports the Community Healthy Integration Project to minimize service gaps and offer a continuum of care. Patients at the Community Hospital of San Bernardino and St. Bernardine Medical Center have direct access to services offered. https://www. dignityhealth.org/about-us/community


Dignity Health Long Beach – St. Mary Medical Center's Mobile Care Units offers free health screenings the first Thursday of each month at LSSSC’s South Bay Campus. https://www. dignityhealth.org/socal/locations/ stmarymedical/services/mobile-careunit LSSSC.ORG | 27


Sometimes a housing case can be solved simply through strong relationships with compassionate landlords who care about their fellow neighbors. And, when that person experiencing homelessness has a pet they care for, it takes an extra special property owner like Ms. Vee from the South Bay area to come to the rescue.

When Daniel Cho, a Housing Navigator in Long Beach, shared with his supervisor Imelda Bealer that his client Michelle was sleeping in her car in the chilly winter with her cats, she knew she had to act quickly. After sharing the dilemma with long-term LSSSC Emergency Assistance Program Manager Wendy Rubio, together, they reached out to Mrs. Vee, just one of Rubio’s network of landlords that love both people and pets.

Given the hardships that people experiencing homelessness face, many ask: “Shouldn’t people experiencing homelessness give up their pets? Wouldn’t life be easier for both the person experiencing homelessness and their pets?”

Well, it’s not that uncommon for those like Michelle experiencing homelessness

to be accompanied by a pet. In fact, the National Coalition for the Homeless estimates 10% of people experiencing homelessness have a pet that they care for. Those serving “on the ground” like Social Service agencies, estimate it could be as high as 25%.

Some studies show that for those living on the streets, a pet can be a lifeline. These factors include: a) having companionship; b) responsibility for another life; c) a sense of purpose; d) a source of unconditional love; e) a reason to look for sources of income to care for pets, and more.

“This program was a blessing and how quickly I was housed surprised me,” says Michelle. “My cats are what I have left, and they were able to come with me.”

Daniel Cho, who Michelle describes as very kind, is so proud of the efforts Michelle has made for herself. “Her journey has been a long and arduous one, filled with barriers, disappointments, and frustrations. With the help of her church community, and her faith in God and the social services system, she has successfully secured a home for her and her kitties,” he joyfully shared.


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It is springtime! I always love it when we get to this time of the year, especially this year free from restrictions imposed in 2020. Like me, I am sure you never thought we would experience a pandemic in our lifetime. Not only did the world deal with the ramifications of the pandemic, we also watched a stabilized nation become destabilized and people who were living everyday lives, all of a sudden, displaced. I don’t know about you, but if I wasn’t so focused on being optimistic about the future, I could’ve found myself in a place of despair. I want to encourage you to hold on, have faith, trust God, and believe times will change for the better. Is that pie-in-the-sky? Maybe. I intend always to offer hope because my faith demands it.

As long as I live here on this earth, I intend to live life to the fullest. When there has been a window to travel, I did. When I had the opportunity to go out and eat dinner with friends, I have, and when I could go to a store, spa, or office, I was thrilled to do so. I believe isolation sets up an environment for emotional and mental harm. I love my solitude, but I also recognize the dangers of too much isolation. It is easy to fall into dark spaces when no outside voice is there to remind you of your goodness. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the possibilities and look forward to a better and brighter tomorrow.

Oprah said, “The future is so bright that it hurts my eyes?” We must remind ourselves of the happy days ahead, whether we see them or not. Never forget that we are what we think, and what we think begins with what we allow our minds to consume. How can we ensure we have the correct thinking? Look to the scriptures! Philippians

4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.”

I don’t know about you, but I believe the future is so bright, it hurts my eyes!


The first of our motto words at LSSSC is EMBRACE – embrace action to help the vulnerable in our communities. If you are reading this magazine, you’re likely one of our supporters and likely an optimist.

How do I know this? Because I believe optimists embrace action. And, as part of the LSSSC family, you’re giving time, talent and treasure – you’re taking action to create a better future not only for yourself but for others.

Optimists cultivate a bias for action. You know you can’t change what has happened to you, but you can embrace the action imperative and do what you can to invent a better future. Optimism is all about making a move to turn your worries and concerns into constructive action.

The tragedy of life is not how soon it ends, but how long you wait to begin it. As you become more optimistic, you’ll spend a lot less time ruminating about what has already happened and a lot more time choosing, moving, trying, tasting, experiencing, serving, enjoying . . . living.

Hockey great Wayne Gretzky credited one of his early coaches for making him aware of an important truth. After pulling him aside after a difficult loss, the coach said, “You outskated everyone out there on the ice, but you didn’t take a shot on net. Miss some tomorrow night! You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.’’ Gretzky took the advice and, of course, went on to be the most prolific scorer in National Hockey League history.

Mistakes and failures are the price you pay for achieving any success. Most success stories involve failures, perseverance, resourcefulness—and, above all, action. You’ve doubtlessly had your share of failures and setbacks, but that’s the price you pay to lead a life worth living.

Life is all about one day at a time. So today, continue to invest your worry time in constructive action and feel the pride and optimism that your purposeful actions through supporting LSSSC have generated.




Bruce Dannemeyer

Rex Evans

Kyle Fryling

Stephen Helper

Rev. Nader Hanna

Athena Jones

Susan Kroeger

Chaplain (COL-Ret.) Scottie R. Lloyd

Victoria Villa, MSW

Bishop Brenda Bos, Southwest CA Synod, ELCA

Rev. Dr. Michael Gibson, Pacific Southwest Region, LCMS

Bishop David C. Nagler, Pacifica Synod, ELCA


Ignited by faith, we live out God’s love by embracing, equipping and empowering vulnerable people in Southern California.


Sharing the love of Christ, we seek to form a community where…

• the vulnerable are safer and stronger

• the dependent are self-sustaining

• the isolated dwell in community

• the weary are given hope.

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