by Rana A. Sharif, VP Outreach and Communication
The last week and a half marked one of the most challenging weeks in our community and the City’s commitment to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Los Angeles City Mayor, Eric Garcetti, issued a series of orders including the Grocery, Drug Retail and Food Delivery Worker Protection and the Worker Protection Order to encourage the safety and well being of our community.
While we are all practicing physical distancing and committing to the Mayor’s “Safer at Home” directives, our community has been tirelessly committed to building social responsibility and supporting one another.
Despite these difficult times, when we, Northridge West Neighborhood Council, put out a call for support from our neighbors and stakeholders, for volunteers, we were met with commitment and empathy from our community. On April 8th, in a post to our Nextdoor account, we sought volunteer seamstresses to help make non-medical masks for essential employees and those unhoused; within hours we had volunteers reach out and offer their time to sew masks. With fabric provided by Joann, Northridge, our long-time board member Gail Lapaz and Homeless Committee co-Chair along with Kelly Sooter, Secretary and Outreach and Communication Committee member, coordinated logistics of the volunteer-driven initiative.
Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, we anticipate having approximately 250 non-surgical masks for distribution to essential workers and the unhoused. Principle organizer, Lapaz shares: “It has been incredibly rewarding to work with our volunteer stakeholders who generously made masks to give to those in need. We were able to give masks to the homeless shelter, food pantry and police officers who are out there working with people in need every day. I am so grateful that NWNC and our terrific stakeholders have been able to make an impact in our community.” To date, we have distributed over 150 of these masks, including:
- Over 50 to the Northridge Recreation Center which is currently servicing 36 unhoused adults.
- 30 to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Devonshire Division.
- 50 to support the employees at the San Fernando Valley Mission Food Pantry at the Northridge Mall
We are indebted to those in our community who, in spite of such precarious times, selflessly and generously offered their time and skill. In reflecting on the generosity of our volunteers Sooter shares: “It is so heartwarming to see the tremendous support and will power of our neighbors during this incredibly challenging time. Every day I see acts of kindness and generosity that remind me of why I love my Northridge Community.”
In addition to masks made by volunteers, the Council donated its collection of N95 masks to Northridge Hospital Medical Center to be used by healthcare workers and staff.
The Council has been hard at work partnering with LA City services to identify needs for the community and where we may be of most assistance. Board members have been communicating with neighboring and city-wide Neighborhood Councils to share and coordinate efforts to ensure we have access to all of the resources and services available by the City to our community. In addition, NWNC has made financial contributions to support the following agencies/organizations working tirelessly on the frontlines:
- Los Angeles Parks Foundation for the Northridge Recreation Center: The funds will go to supporting the sanitation and cleaning of the Northridge Park homeless shelter.
- Hope of the Valley: Our funding will help provide food, bedding, hygiene, and clothing to families in need.
- CombineLA: Using 3-D printing technologies, CombineLA is locally manufacturing protective face shields that are then donated to healthcare professionals. Our contribution will support the manufacturing of 250 face shields to be donated to Northridge Hospital, Holy Cross, Olive View, and Tarzana Medical Centers.
- San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission: Our contribution will support the pop-up drive-up food pantry run by the Mission at the Northridge Fashion Center. The pop-up food pantry services approximately 100 families.
As the circumstances of this pandemic are evolving, NWNC is committed to keeping our neighbors, community members, and stakeholders informed. In an effort to provide our stakeholders with the latest information and available services, we are sending out daily posts on our social media sites.
We thank the NWNC community for exercising compassion and empathy during a very difficult time. We thank you for entrusting us to serve you. Please feel free to reach out to us at if you have any questions or would like to get involved. Wishing you all good health, strength, and wellness.
Rana Sharif, NWNC
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