Henry and Celina Meza, pastors at the Iglesia Cristina Altar de Dios church at 13261 Glenoaks Boulevard in Sylmar, have started a fundraising effort to help the family of Arturo Franco Melendez, who was killed April 17 while working as a food volunteer.
“Arthur was a [church] volunteer for 3 years, tirelessly helping in the food ministry. On April 17, 2020, Arthur was doing what he loved most, he was placing food in the trunk of a car of a needed person when suddenly he was tragically hit and killed while serving others at our food ministry. Arturo gave his life helping others; he was a hero,” according to the GoFundMe page where the fundraising effort is taking place.
“We plead your kindness in this difficult time, the donations are for his wife who also volunteers at the food ministry,” the page stated.
According to City News Service, the 58-year-old San Fernando resident was pinned between two vehicles. Los Angeles police officers said Melendez was struck by a vehicle at 7:45 a.m. on April 17 in the church parking lot during a food giveaway, located at the intersection of El Casco Street and Glenoaks Boulevard. Paramedics rushed him to a hospital, where he later died from his injuries.
Police said the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and cooperated with authorities.
The church said in a Facebook video that out of respect for Franco’s family, they would close the food distribution event on Wednesday, April 22, and reopen again on Friday, April 24.
In the video, Pastor Ray Gibbs referred to Franco as a “marvelous contribution he was to our ministry.”
“I just want to say what a blessing Arturo was to our church family. He was such an asset in helping our community and serving the needs of people,” Gibbs added.
Pastor Henry Meza said that Franco “was a man who loved the community and served the community and tragically while he was serving the community a vehicle hit him and he died serving the community.”
Dozens of people have expressed their condolences and sadness at his passing on the San Fernando Valley Sun Facebook page.
One of them is Zoila Martinez, who works at Urgent Care in Van Nuys and met Franco and his wife when he was a patient there for physical therapy nearly two years ago.
“He always had a positive attitude even when his treatment wasn’t going so well. He never gave up, just wanted to get better,” Martinez recalled.
“Even when he wasn’t a patient and he would bring his wife to see the doctors. He always made sure to stop by my window to say hi and ask how I was doing. Not many patients do that and that alone brightened up my day even if it was just for that day,” she continued.
“I always looked forward to seeing him and his wife at the office. He was always concerned about others. It saddens me dearly and my coworkers (I told them what had happened) that such a goodhearted man was taken. His presence will be missed tremendously,” Martinez said.
Los Angeles Councilmember Monica Rodriguez said she plans to introduce legislation to increase on-site traffic safety measures to ensure safe ingress and egress, as well as proper loading procedures.
“I understand the public’s anxiety and urgency to get the resources they need for their families; however, we can’t afford to put even more lives at risk,” Rodriguez said. “I urge the public to exercise greater caution and honor operating guidelines and exercise patience while you wait in line.”
If you want to help the family, you can visit;
The account seeks to raise $10,000.