146th Airlift Wing lends helping hand to Skid Row Mission in Los Angeles
By Senior Airman Nichole Ramirez, 146 AW
/ Published December 02, 2009
LOS ANGELES -- An entire ISU 90 container filled with more than 60 bags of clothes and shoes donated by the members of the 146th Airlift Wing was delivered to the Los Angeles Rescue Mission on Skid Row last month.
Members from the 146th Airlift Wing delivered the donated goods directly to the mission on Sept. 16, led by Chief Master Sgt. Rick Onsgard and Senior Master Sgt. Sophia Boucier. The members unloaded all the items to the grateful personnel.
Jim Tyson is Director of Development for the Los Angeles Mission, and is also a former member of the California Air National Guard, from the late 1960s. Tyson felt a particular sense of pride when he saw members of the 146th Airlift Wing pull into their dock.
"I didn't know they were coming," said Tyson. "I was told some military members were dropping of some donations, and thought I should take time to greet and thank them."
When Tyson saw the amount of items being donated, he said he couldn't believe his eyes. Commenting on how he never gets used to witnesses the way people help people, Tyson said he was blown away.
"It put a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye," he said.
Tyson commented that this is a very poignant time in our history. The poor economy is affecting many organizations that rely on donations. Many have been cut, but the mission is holding on, said Tyson.
Tyson said the mission receives no federal or state funding; all funds and donations are from private parties. Because it is a Christian based organization, they have continued to receive donations from faithful supporters and organizations that have kept their doors open. However, the economy is worse than ever and even more is needed, he said.
The mission houses up to 180 people a night for up to two weeks. They wash all their clothes, feed them and give them a cot to sleep. There are transitional programs including the Urban Training Institute (UTI) that is a long-term rehabilitation program to help people learn skills to re-enter society and the opportunity to pursue academics and vocational classes.
Chief Onsgard was given the idea from Sgt. Boucier, who has long been donating and working with the Anne Douglas Center for Women, a division within the Los Angeles Mission. The center was named after Kirk Douglas' wife, Anne Douglas, a dedicated patron in supporting the efforts to provide shelter and rehabilitate the homeless.
"My daughter and I have been donating for years," said Sgt. Boucier about her contributions to the center.
Wanting to help as much as possible, Sgt. Boucier brought up the idea about having wing members donate to Chief Onsgard.
Chief Onsgard, a retired Los Angeles Fire Fighter, used to work in the Skid Row area. He was immediately pleased with the idea of calling on wingmembers to help the cause. He remarked on how proud he was of the wingmembers for their contributions.
"We wanted to give members the opportunity to help. This is something we can all participate in and it's the right thing to do," said Chief Onsgard.
The Los Angeles Mission is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the homeless living on the streets of downtown's Skid Row for over 70 years.
Chief Onsgard and other wing volunteers are holding another clothing drive presently, and will be accepting donations until Dec. 15. With the approaching holiday, you can donate money, clothes or your time. Visit their website for more information at http://www.losangelesmission.org/, or contact Chief Onsgard for more information.