On Saturday, April 25, 2015, Major General Alfred Valenzuela (ret), founder of Assistance For Veterans—a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting homeless veterans and in-need veterans with food, clothing and counseling—had a great time meeting many young Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and their leaders and family from the El Monte and South El Monte communities. The event took place at God Provides Food Bank located in South El Monte and the organization would like to thank Army veteran and food bank co-founder Allan Espinoza for his warmth and friendship for making this event a huge success. God Provides Food Bank is dedicated to assisting families from any city, but especially families locally that need help through his family pack program, which is 100 pounds of sorted food that includes items from every food group that we need for a healthy life. He has also supported Assistance For Veterans program from the first day they walked into his building. Today, they share space and support him with funding. He has established one of the largest veteran outreach programs in the greater Los Angeles area.
In attendance was Cub Scout Pack 531 with leaders Gina Cojulun and Melina Flores. Boy Scout Troop 531 was also represented with assistant scoutmasters Robert Yrigoyen Jr. and Jose Gutierrez. Also in attendance were Loretta Villegas, Committee Chair Pack and Troop 531 Charter Organization Representative from City of South El Monte, as well as Scout Pack 531 leader Terry Lopez. They were so happy they were able to make this event aimed at inspiring youth. They have invited General Valenzuela to come back to speak to a larger group on his next visit, which General Valenzuela accepted without any hesitation. As he spoke to the youth in attendance he looked back at his scouting days and believed strongly that without the guidance he received from his scout leaders where he became the youngest Eagle Scout in the country many years ago, he would not be where he is today. Committee Chair Loretta Villegas said after the event, “Our Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts enjoyed meeting and listening to Major General Alfred Valenzuela; his words were indeed inspiring.”
That evening was Assistance For Veterans’ main event, which was slightly dampened by an unusual downpour of rain but because most in attendance were veterans, they have been trained to move forward and not allow anything to stop their progress. The event was fantastic. A close friend of the group, Ruben Torres, who has many family members who have served our country, prepared the BBQ.
General Valenzuela really knows how to work a crowd just like he did earlier in the day when he spoke to all the children in attendance, including family members and group leaders. He just went around the room making sure to speak to everyone and took pictures, and signed autographs of his book, No Greater Love: The Lives and Times of Hispanic Soldiers.
“Even if one person shows up it will be a success,” General Valenzuela stated earlier in the day. Many friends were in attendance and the night went off without a hitch. There was comedy from Sebastian Cetina, magic from The Great Omar, a tribute to Elvis Presley by Dean Hayek, and music all night by DJ Shout. This was just a great evening of entertainment, food and raffles.
Assistance For Veterans wishes to thank many for their kindness and support. “We have a larger, more challenging event this September and I will keep everyone posted as we present our plans to our current partners,” stated Los Angles director Alfred Perez. “We hope you will join us in this very important mission of delivering food, clothing, hygiene items and counseling to veterans who are in the most need of assistance. We are a delivery service because we come to those veterans that are having a difficult time with their daily survival; our program is designed to help those in the most need of food and clothing. We love what we are doing and only wish we could help everyone and that is our goal to be available and accessible to any veteran who our program can lend a helping hand. We want to thank Larry West and Jeff Richards from Premier Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Ram; The American Legion Hollywood Post 43; Ron Bartels of Bartels Harley Davidson in Marina Del Rey; Emily Shokouh of Harley Davidson Glendale; the Sandoval Family; and the Collado family for their kind donations. If anyone would like to assist us, including a canned food drive, clothing drive or know where we can get our hands on more donated food, just give us a call at (626) 261-8805 or go to our website AssistanceForVets.org. Your help will be greatly appreciated.”