November 2023 marked the first anniversary of the San Bernardino Diocese Order of Malta Auxiliary. With three charter members renewing their commitment to the Order, two potential members in the process, several others in discernment and multiple inquiries, the Auxiliary stands to double and possibly triple its membership by the end of FY 2024.
And what’s an anniversary without a celebration? Mr. Javier Lopez, a soon-to-be Auxiliary member, is the Executive Director of Valley Restart Shelter, a temporary shelter, located in the city of Hemet. Shortly after connecting with Mr. Lopez, Auxiliary members received an invitation to the Grand Opening Celebration of their new Pallet Home Village. 12 pallet homes, placed on a newly laid concrete foundation, 16 ft. x 16 ft., and capable of housing two adults each, will be temporary homes for seniors and veterans of the community.
The day began with a ribbon cutting ceremony, remarks and visits throughout the day by County Supervisor, Dr. Yxtian Gutierrez and representatives of his staff, City of Hemet Mayor Joe Males and wife Cynthia, along with a number City Council Members. Representatives from the City of San Jacinto were also present as well as William Boyd, Field Representative from State Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh’s office. Others included VRS Board Members, residents, friends, and other county agencies that support the shelter in various ways. Representing the Order of Malta were SB Auxiliary President, Dan O’Connor, Melody Paulsen, DM, Auxiliary Liaison and Randy Chapman, volunteer.
“Housewarming” gifts of hygiene kits were presented to the new residents. They were warmly and graciously received. Rose, one of the residents we visited with, openly shared her story of drug abuse, which ultimately led to her homelessness and life on the streets. Finding Valley Restart has turned her life around. Utilizing the many services available to her and having a roof over her head, she is now on track for future success.
Congratulations to Valley Restart Shelter on their new Village. The San Bernardino Auxiliary looks forward to spending time in service there!