ARS Hollywood Social Service Center: The Heartbeat of the Community

Community members seeking social service at the waiting room at the Hollywood cente

BY PARIK NAZARIAN

For more than 25 years the Hollywood ARS office has been the pumping heart of the Armenian community Hollywood and adjacent areas. Being on the crossroads of the community and organizations the office has responded to the needs and wants of thousands of people of all ages within legal and financial boundaries.

The tireless staff has not only provided quick fixes but rather long-term ongoing assistance. It has mediated and worked with many government and non-governmental organizations and agencies such as housing authorities, public assistance agencies, immigration offices, hospitals, schools and the police department to resolve any problems they have encountered.

ARS social worker assists a community member in Hollywood

For thousands of clients, documented and undocumented immigrants, coming from all corners of the world, this center has been the first stop, a “HOME” away from home. The people put their trust and faith on the center’s few remaining employees who go beyond their time and responsibilities to fulfill the needs of the sick and elderly, the needy and poor, the helpless and hopeless who cannot speak for themselves. The enter the center with their problems, concerns, fears and questions with a gloomy face and leave the office with the answers and a smile on their face.

In a typical day one cannot conjecture who will enter the center and for what reason. It could be an emergency help to find a clinic or hospital for somebody’s child, immediate help to find shelter for the homeless, provide transportation, to dispute a bill or overcharge, to file forms to get public housing, welfare assistance or medical benefits. The nature of assistance is unpredictable, the list of demands endless and despite the limited resources and reduced staff the Hollywood office is still the primary place any person in need goes to first.

Unfortunately, due to lack of financing and the ever-evolving government assistance has limited the services the Hollywood center. While this reality is unnoticeable to the outsider, the community feels the void, the need and the pain.

The needs of the elderly are ongoing and increasing; yesterday’s children have grown up and are searching for employment; the youth of yesterday have become parents and are encountering new challenges and difficulties to support their families and children.

The average person of yesterday ages and becomes ill, unable to work and new problems, needs and want arise. The community changes, so changes the nature of the problems but one thing that never rests or goes away is a place to go to in time of need. Armenian Relief Society has been nothing short of embodiment of that place.

The residents of Hollywood and beyond are hopeful that their “HOME” in their neighborhood will not abandon them, will not leave them in mercy of others but will continue to welcome them again. They are hopeful that the heart of Hollywood will keep on pounding and will give them hope again making life easier and brighter.

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