"Home is somewhere you can come and relax, feel safe and be happy," explained Amalia Jimenez, local single mother.
For the holidays this year, Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee Andrew Whitworth and his family refurbished and furnished a two-bedroom duplex for Amalia and her three children in partnership with St. Joseph’s Center and UNIFY Financial Credit Union.
"It's really special that Andrew is taking the time to think about families that are in need. LA is so large and there is so much here to be grateful for in the City of Angels, but there is also a lot of suffering as well," said Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, president and CEO of St. Joseph Center. "There's a lot of families in need, there's a lot of homelessness and COVID has really been a tough thing for families to endure and combat. So, this time of year is so special because we can pause. We can really reflect on what it means to be a community, what it means to really lift each other up and there's no better way to lift a family than to give them a gift of hope and to refurbish a wonderful space like Andrew is doing."
On Tuesday, Dec. 14, the Jimenez Family arrived at their new home for the first time and were surprised by a fully furnished unit decorated for the holidays.
"Wow, this is so beautiful. I wasn't expecting this much. This is amazing," said Amalia. "When I walked in, I noticed the TV and the couches but… I was just in shock like, 'Oh my God, I can't believe it.' My eyes just couldn't believe it. I didn't realize until I got in here that you guys changed everything."
The furnishings included new couches, beds with bedding, televisions in each room, dressers, updated lighting, new blinds, painted walls, interior décor, dinnerware and kitchen utensils.
PHOTOS: Rams OL Andrew Whitworth surprises a family by fully furnishing their new home with the help of St. Joseph's Center & UNIFY
Los Angeles Rams Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee Andrew Whitworth surprised a family with a fully furnished apartment as they moved from a shelter to permanent housing. With the help of St. Joseph's Center and UNIFY Financial Credit Union, the Whitworths helped the family move into their new place in time for the Holidays!
"Thank you so much for everything you have done for me and my kids, my whole family. God will bless you always." Amalia said she wanted to say to Andrew. "My heart is full of joy and gratitude towards him, and I just can't believe everything he has done for us. We now have a home and we are so grateful and so thankful. We are going to be a stable family from now on."
The Jimenez family entered St. Joseph Center's crisis housing service almost a year ago. Since entering the shelter, Amalia has worked to obtain her nursing assistant certificate and is now working full-time.
"My experience with St. Joseph was amazing. They walked with me through my journey and knew my struggles, they knew my story and I really felt that St. Joseph did a good job. I felt supported," explained Amalia. "I encourage people to seek help. They are not alone. There are always people that will bless you, help you and support you.
The Whitworth's also purchased items on each of the Jimenez's holiday wish lists, in partnership with UNIFY Financial Credit Union who provided a matching donation.
"When we first joined the Rams as their credit union several years ago, the first and foremost priority for UNIFY was to partner with the Rams in the community that we serve," said Gordon Howe, CEO of UNIFY Financial Credit Union. "We can spread the money and the resources we have over the greater part of this huge city… over the whole holiday season."
Earlier this month, the Rams announced Andrew Whitworth as nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award presented by Nationwide for the fifth consecutive season. Considered one of the league's most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
Andrew Whitworth continues to marvel the NFL community with his play on the field and his unique ability to galvanize teammates and others to address issues plaguing under-resourced communities in Los Angeles.
To learn more about the Rams' community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.