The Rutherford Report—Volunteer Finds Her Spot at Family Shelter

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“Family is not an important thing. It is everything.”

—Michael J. Fox
Volunteer Finds Her Spot at Family Shelter

Two years ago Amber Barajas decided she wanted to volunteer at a homeless shelter in her community, so she did what most young people her age would do—she Googled it.

“I just wanted to find a way to help other people,” she said.

Her search led her to the Foothill Family Shelter—one of the longest serving homeless shelters in San Bernardino County.

“I read about some of the people they’ve helped and the services they provide to people in need, and I wanted to be a part of it,” the 19-year-old Rancho Cucamonga High School graduate said.

Today, Amber works in the shelter’s food pantry about two days a week. She sorts donated food and other provisions, restocks shelves, and puts together hygiene kits complete with toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo and soap for the pantry’s customers. Homeless families living in the Foothill Family Shelter’s transitional housing and individuals who display a need can shop at the pantry for free.

“It’s like a little grocery store for them,” Amber said. “It gives them to a chance to save up a little money because they don’t have to pay for the food.”

Amber said she volunteered some at the Rancho Cucamonga Animal Shelter and with the American Red Cross when she was in high school, but she really found a home at the Foothill Family Shelter.

“I’ve found my place, and I really like it here,” she said.

The Foothill Family Shelter evolved out of an effort St. Mark’s Episcopal Church launched in 1984 to help homeless families with children. It started with a single motel room with a kitchenette that was rented for a week at a time.

Today, the nonprofit operates more than two dozen two-bedroom apartments and offers temporary, transitional, and permanent housing. Clients must meet income and family size requirements, agree to save 50% of their income, participate in life skills classes, and search for work or better pay while in the shelter’s program. Clients also must pledge not to use alcohol or drugs and are subject to random testing.

Most recently, Foothill Family Shelter opened a thrift store at 1250 W. Foothill Blvd. in Upland. The thrift store provides job training for shelter residents seeking employment. Proceeds support internal and external services, the food pantry/clothing closet, housing, case management, employment services and children's enrichment activities provided by the Foothill Family Shelter. Call (909) 982-1785 for information.

Visit for more information about the Foothill Family Shelter.
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