Located in the heart of Los Angeles, the Lifeway Church is surrounded by many vibrant and diverse communities. Over the past several years, Lifeway Church and their HOPE worldwide chapter have sought to consistently partner with local community organizations to serve their neighbors. One of these partnerships is with the La Casa de San Gabriel Community Center in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California.

La Casa de San Gabriel was founded in 1946, by the Lizárraga family, pastors at a local presbyterian church. Its mission is to enhance the well-being of the families it serves by providing educational and social services that promote self-sufficiency and motivation for lifelong learning. The Lifeway Church was introduced to La Casa de San Gabriel in 2014 through Alexis Salamanca, and partnered to host a beautification project on the campus as their first project. Over the years, members became more engaged with La Casa, either as a contributor or as a beneficiary of their various programs (i.e. pre-school, food pantry, clothing donations, etc). In 2015, Lifeway partnered with La Casa for its annual MLK HOPE Day of Service event and completed a large mural on their campus. Over the years, Lifeway members have continued to serve at La Casa including organizing a toy drive for families of the pre-school in 2019.

As the devastation of the pandemic progressed into 2020, much of the Lifeway HOPEww chapter’s efforts shifted to meeting the immediate needs of families impacted. At the end of 2020, the chapter formed a new committee with a renewed focus on building and strengthening partnerships with value-aligned organizations. Despite limitations posed by the pandemic, Lifeway started to actively serve La Casa again in 2021. Drive-thru food drives were implemented to collect donations for a bimonthly food pantry – one of the signature programs serving around 300 families in-need each month. Due to the pandemic, food insecurity nearly doubled in Los Angeles. The food drives were hosted in multiple locations, and the Lifeway college students began to serve frequently at La Casa, organizing donated food as well as distributing items at the food pantry.

In December, Lifeway disciples partnered with La Casa to host the first ever pop-up Christmas Store. Parents were able to select and purchase brand new toys at significantly discounted rates. This was a creative way to meet the needs of the community neighbors while honoring their dignity. La Casa promoted the event to the community and opened its facilities to host the event, while Lifeway organized and stocked the store using toy donations collected at the annual drive. The store was a success with over 100 toys sold! All of the revenue was donated to La Casa. Many parents and grandparents shared how grateful they were to be able to buy toys for their children that they could not afford at retail prices. Since it was such a great success, Lifeway and La Casa will host the store again in 2022.

La Casa used the proceeds from the Christmas store to complete a large mural on a 60′ x 30′ exterior wall. La Casa’s director, Velma de la Rosa’s, had a vision to brighten the community center’s presence with a mural that would reflect the cultural and generational diversity of the neighborhood. On January 15th, during the 2022 HOPE MLK Day of Service more than 50 volunteers from Lifeway church and their friends came together to complete the mural. It was designed by one of Lifeway’s very talented members, Peter Markowski. Volunteers also worked on painting improvements to the doors and roofing of the daycare center.

Many members of the community expressed their satisfaction with the mural. Community member Louie, who has lived on the street since 1939 and built many of the existing houses there, would periodically come by and watch with amazement as the mural was being completed. Louie said, “I have not seen a change on this street for many many years, and this is wonderful.”

La Casa and the City of San Gabriel were very grateful to the marvelous volunteers who dedicated their energy and time to make such a bright impact. Lifeway Church and La Casa de San Gabriel have plans for continued collaboration this year and are excited to see what God will do through this partnership.

Lifeway is also excited about their continued partnership with a local school, Huntington Drive Elementary. The partnership began in 2018 and has consisted of several beautification and organization projects, a backpack drive, a community Festival of HOPE, and an after school arts program curated by one of the high school disciples, Sophia Stephen.

Lifeway believes in forging long-lasting relationships with like-minded community partners and will continue striving to strengthen these relationships. Check out videos from all of Lifeway’s recent service events with our community partners by clicking here. If you are interested in learning more, contact the Lifeway HOPEww chapter at Lifewayhopeww@gmail.com.