September 24, 2020

She has one of those smiles that you cannot help but smile along with ….. But, behind her beautiful smile is a story of pain and struggle …...

She opens the door of the one-roomed unit she shares with her family to greet our staff. They are there to drop off a bed for her young son’s puppy, Nico. Alex had asked for a bed for Nico for Christmas. But MEND staff are also there to check in on the family.

Karla’s eyes well up with tears when she sees the light blue donut cushion. Her words are welcoming: “Come in… don’t stand outside.” Karla’s journey to this moment was made possible by many generous people, such as the 89 year-old former MEND volunteer who lives just a few houses down, but also by people like you who allow MEND to be a beacon of hope for people like Karla, and bring comfort to fragile lives in their hardest hours.

The soft-spoken mother shares: “I came here six years ago with my son, Alex. He was 3.” Unable to live with her aunt due to space limitations, Karla found a place to stay in Pacoima. As it happened, the homeowner was a MEND volunteer. Karla survived by collecting recyclables and cleaning houses. But she also started coming to MEND for help.

“I have no idea what I would have done if MEND did not exist.” She adds: “MEND opened its doors to us….I get food every month and it lasts us 3 or 4 days. I also get clothes for Alex.” With a grateful smile she explains that the clothing is especially helpful since Alex is growing more by the day. Not too long ago, Karla met her partner, Ruis, and moved into the one-room space. The spotless home features a bunk bed, small dining table and chairs for seating, tiny kitchen and bathroom. In one corner is a Christmas tree – a treasure from MEND.

Karla and her partner are expecting a baby boy, Jesus. With her hands wrapped around her baby bump, she shares many hopes and dreams for their future. “All I want is a house. I don’t want a car or anything like that, just a house.” Recalling the scary two days she recently spent in hospital, she adds with emotion: “I want our baby to be healthy.”

Clients at MEND are not just a box ticked as they come in. Their stories are personal to all of us. Her son, Alex, has big dreams and aspirations of his own. Karla points at all of the soccer trophies displayed on the top of the refrigerator and you can feel the pride she has for his accomplishments at such an early age. She shares that she encourages Alex’s dreams even though some seem out of reach: “I don’t want to say no because in the United States anything is possible.” She wipes her tears away. She hopes her baby boy shares the same big dreams as Alex.

Thanks to you, the lives of thousands of near-homeless and homeless families and individuals in our community are made better…every day. Despite their struggles, Karla and her family are hopeful about the future and want you to know how grateful they are for your help.

Thank you for the dignity you bring to people who are struggling. We couldn’t do what we do, without you.