Torrance’s His House prepares to move

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Social services center will have a larger facility and a new name.

by Karen Gleason –

Shown at the “groundbreaking” for the new Stillman Sawyer Center are (left to right) Sharon Weisman for Sen. Jenny Oropeza, Torrance Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sutherland, Major Julio Vasquez, Major Karen Vasquez, Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin for Supervisor Don Knabe and Redondo Beach City Council, and David Cline for Congresswoman Jane Harman [Photo by Joseph Ernest].

Recently, The Salvation Army in Torrance, California celebrated the ceremonial groundbreaking for the Stillman Sawyer Family Services Center—the metamorphosis of His House, which has served the area’s needy for almost 20 years.

Joining Torrance Corps Officers Majors Julio and Karen Vasquez and His House Director David Risher were advisory board members along with local dignitaries and politicians, including Torrance Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sutherland and Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin. On behalf of The Salvation Army the Vasquezes accepted several certificates in appreciation of Army’s work in the community.

His House
Tucked in a corner of a small strip mall, His House has long operated out of two crowded rooms. Risher, director of the center since its inception, never tires of providing necessities and loving care in Jesus’ name, noting, “There are always people hurting.” Risher, who runs His House assisted by about 70 volunteers, believes that God will provide.

God has provided—through businesses and individuals who send checks and donate food, meeting the needs of approximately 3,000 area families per month. According to a recent (Sept. 13, 2008) article in the Daily Breeze newspaper by John Bogert: “That works out to maybe 10,000 of our laid-off, abandoned, elderly or ill South Bay neighbors. This is in addition to the 6,500 brown bag lunches they hand out each month to people who might not otherwise eat. And the numbers are only growing.”

Stillman Sawyer
In spring 2009, the center will relocate to a 8,000-square-foot building—formerly inhabited by an ambulance company—in nearby Harbor City; a small homeless encampment lies just behind the building. The new location will serve the communities of Torrance, Palos Verdes peninsula, Redondo Beach, Harbor City and San Pedro.

The facility was made possible by a bequest from Stillman Sawyer, a retired local oilman and photographer. He was also a friend of The Salvation Army and hoped to endow a ministry that was making a difference in people’s lives—and one that really needed the funds. Sawyer visited His House many times, and wanted to help expand its work. He left most of his estate to The Salvation Army for His House; the new center will bear his name.

At the groundbreaking, Vasquez expressed his gratitude: “Thanks to the vision that Mr. Sawyer had, The Salvation Army will be able to increase the number of families assisted every year, and this [the ceremony] is the first step on this ministry.

Expanded services
While continuing the existing services provided by His House, the Stillman Sawyer Center will be able to offer more programs and services, including: monthly government commodities to qualifying families and individuals; brown bag lunches; senior Nutrition on Wheels program in expanded areas; weekly and/or monthly food distribution; backpacks and school supplies; Thanksgiving and Christmas programs; new toys for children at Christmas; adult counseling and/or referrals for substance abuse, housing, medical, single parents, battered women, suicide prevention; computer learning center; family literacy program; shower/toilet and clothes washing facilities.

For more information about the Stillman Sawyer Family Services Center, or for donation and volunteer opportunities, please call 310-370-4515 or 310-782-8841.

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