LA County Sheriffs and Operation Healthy Hearts Provide Showers and More for Homeless


Ramon Alvarado

The events put on by the LA County Sheriff’s Department and Operation Healthy Hearts give most of the homeless who attend their only chance to shower for the week.

Homelessness has been a longstanding issue in Los Angeles. The homeless rate jumped 75% in the last six years, according to a LA Times report.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) has plans to help those unfortunate this summer and beyond.

HOST and Operation Healthy Hearts offered free clothing, food, haircuts and showers Thursday, June 14 at the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area. The event is held every Thursday and gets 80-100 visitors per day.

The organizations have been putting together these events for the homeless July 2017 Operation Healthy Hearts is a nonprofit that is looking to “reverse the sudden onset of homelessness for [San Gabriel Valley] families.”

Deputy Rodney R. Gutierrez of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is the leader of HOST. Deputy Gutierrez works closely with Operation Healthy Hearts to help out the homeless as much as they can.

“I was trying to figure out why they’re here, what we can do to help them. A lot of them are down, shoulders are shrugged, just down on their luck,” Deputy Gutierrez said.

“It’s kind of like you wake up one day, you have a bad day, and something happens… you lock your keys in the car, lock yourself out of the house and it’s like ‘man, maybe I should stay home today.’ Then you wake up the next day, you’re still having a bad day. Before you know it, you have this big hole around you and you can’t get out.”

Gutierrez talks to the homeless who attend the event whenever he gets the chance. Gutierrez lets them know that he’ll help them as long as they see they have the desire to change.

“A lot of it is just compassion, hope, that basic respect, interaction… Acknowledging someone. Saying ‘Hey! You’re not forgotten. You’re here, we know you’re here and it’s not the same program as five years ago, two years ago. We’re going to help you,” Deputy Gutierrez, said with assurance.

HOST and Operation Healthy Hearts have a second location to aid the homeless every Thursday in East Pasadena.

The weekly events put on by the two organizations, and their communication with the homeless shows a difference can be made as long as effort is put in.

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