'Mother Teresa of Long Beach' helps food pantry serve 13,000 meals per year

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Lutheran Social Services Southern California has been aiding the Long Beach community since 1983. The organization on historic Pine Avenue provides emergency assistance to over 1,000 people each month.

"We have seen a different trend throughout the years here in Long Beach" said Emergency Services Program Manager, Wendy Rubio. "Now you see more families experiencing homelessness, as opposed to before when it was more individuals."

In addition to a food pantry, LSS Southern California also provides services, including disability and housing benefit assistance for homeless families, English language classes and more.

"The ultimate goal is to empower them, where they are doing things for themselves and are no longer in need of our services," Rubio said.

Maria Hernandez, commonly referred to as the 'Mother Teresa of Long Beach,' has been volunteering at LSS Southern California for 28 years. Before volunteering at the nonprofit, Hernandez received services at LSS Southern California after immigrating to Long Beach from Mexico.

"My English was very bad then. I felt bad, but when I come here, the people helped me with food. The people were friendly and I started coming to English class right here," Hernandez said.

Hernandez kept volunteering at the food pantry, even while going through chemotherapy 13 years ago.

"They make me feel good - they make me feel beautiful, the people," Hernandez said. "I can understand how people feel when they don't have food. I'm trying to help."

Donations from ABC7's 8th annual Feed SoCal hunger initiative will go towards Lutheran Social Services Southern California - Long Beach, in addition to other food pantries across Southern California. For more information about Lutheran Social Services Southern California, visit their website.
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