Hope of The Valley
In 2009, Hope of the Valley began as a small ministry run out of San Pablo Lutheran Church in Sun Valley, where volunteers prepared and served hot meals to the homeless on Thursday nights. Founded by current CEO Ken Craft, it is now one of the leading non-profit organizations providing housing and homeless services in the San Fernando Valley and beyond, with over 17 facilities, serving the unhoused population. Their mission: “to prevent, reduce, and eliminate poverty, hunger, and homelessness by offering immediate assistance and long-term solutions.” As a faith-based compassion ministry, their philosophy revolves around giving everyone a second chance, and focusing on the spiritual, emotional, physical, relational, occupational, and financial needs of those they serve.
In over a decade, they’ve opened recuperative care centers, housing facilities, BRIDGE programs, cold weather shelters, safe parking shelters, thrift stores and even launched a weekly Motel Meal Program, addressing hunger issues of families living in motels in the San Fernando Valley. Last year alone, they’ve opened 4 Tiny Home Villages, 64 square foot homes, a community restroom with a shower, onsite meals, Wi-Fi access, and social services on-site, in North Hollywood, Tarzana, and Reseda. Their most recent project is the New Trebek Center, a 107-bed bridge housing center located in the former Skateland, the 6o-year-old roller-skating rink, in Northridge.
They’ve partnered with many like-minded organizations in and around the San Fernando Valley to provide more resources and generate positive outcomes for the homeless and food insecure. Some of these community partnerships include Healthcare Advocates, LA Family Housing, LAPD’s Hope Team, North Valley Health Corporation, The Village Family Services, and the Center for Living.
What truly makes this organization special is the dedication of its leaders to walk more than a mile in the shoes of those they provide for.
Last month, during one of the wettest, coldest weeks of 2021, Hope of the Valley Founder/CEO Ken Craft and President/CFO Rowan Vansleve spent 100 hours living on the streets of the San Fernando Valley with only a change of clothes, a small toiletry kit, and $5 in their pockets. Their intention was to understand more about the experience of living in the streets beyond the statistics and the interactions they’ve had with the homeless population. Through sharing their experience on social media, they hope to bring more understanding and compassion to the plight of the many who are out on the streets.
“To go to that next level of being an effective leader, I need to walk in their footsteps. I’ll never know completely but I want to at least a taste of that pain,” shares Ken on their video, C-Suite to the Streets, a documentary of their journey. Craft and Vansleve experience the best, the worst, and everything in between of human reactions: fear, hope, rejection, kindness. They even met a man who refers them to their own organization for help.
At the end of their 100 hours, Craft says, “The struggle was real. Every day was a grind. It was about how are we going to get through this day. Every day is about survival and that’s not living.”
“Humans are not made to live like that. I don’t truly understand how people survive,” continues Vansleve.
“Nothing in my life prepared me for this yet it gave me the opportunity to experience humility, gratitude, and generosity. I think if I can maintain those three elements and encourage others to do the same. I think we’re going to make some progress. Hope has to start with me and that’s my hope and my prayer at the conclusion of this journey.” Craft shares of this experience.
To learn how you can help Hope of the Valley in its mission, visit their website at hopeofthevalley.org. You can also follow them on Instagram @hopeofthevalley for the latest news.