When a Homeless Man Finds a Home – Week 478 on March 14, 2018.

SPIRIT of Santa Paula is committed to ending homelessness.

Something great happened this past week to meet that goal. There is a new housing program designed for homeless seniors, at least 62 years old with a documented disability. It was not an easy task to get him approved. The questions now are whether or not he will be able to marry his long-time girlfriend who is only 60 so they can live together. And, will he be able to continue dog-sitting her dog during the day while she works at a part-time job?

The task of finding a homeless person over 62 years old with a documented disability who does not have a criminal background, who doesn’t have substance abuse in his past or present and is sweet and even-tempered is not easy. This effort took eight letters of recommendation, two letters from his doctor and the nod from the Chief of Police.  We are told the unit will be ready at the end of March.

There are several bright sides to this story. One there will be one less homeless person to worry about. One is a lot when you’re the one, right?

Tanya is a female about 46 years old who lives at the river and picks lemons right alongside the men.  Her teeth have become so infected and loose that she can hardly eat.  I’m happy to report that she was fitted for dentures this week and will let me show you her picture before and after.  I just know they are going to be amazing. She is the biggest fan of the Care Pod shower program. When she talks about her hot shower she closes her eyes recalling the uplifting feeling that comes with feeling clean and fresh.

I can’t thank the wonderful people at the Ventura Health Care Agency enough for being a partner is caring for the whole person with a Santa Paula zip code.  Sincere thanks to Woody and Vern for the fabulous piece of equipment and the County  personnel who make their way to the host church, El Buen Pastor, each Friday to meet and greet our homeless visitors.

Then there is Tom from the Drug and Alcohol Division of Whole Person Care who visits the Drop-In Center making friends with those who have had too much to drink or are high. One guest has already asked for help and rehab.  Without Tom checking in on him, it wouldn’t have happened in the same way.

A local angel provided a supply of tarps and ponchos for wet weather use.  Once the homeless get wet, they stay that way until a change of clothes is made available. Many of them get sick and use the emergency room for the primary physician care.  SPIRIT is going to ask the County to commission a study on the cost of health care for the homeless population. I know that the cost of housing is much cheaper.

Food Rescue from the School District is making a big difference on the amount of wasted food being dumped into the landfills. We are able to serve much more commercially prepared food. Whatever you think of global warming, the impact of organic material in the landfill cannot be dismissed.  Here are some interesting links.

An important part of the California Department of Resources Recycling is Organic Materials Management 

Recovery’s mission is to increase the diversion of organic materials away from landfills and toward the production of value-added products such as compost, fertilizers, and biofuels.

Organic waste accounts for more than a third of the material in California’s waste stream. Greenhouse gas emissions caused by the decomposition of organic material in landfills contribute to global climate change. Reducing the amount of organic material sent to landfills is part of the AB 32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) Scoping Plan, is fundamental to ARB’s Short Lived Climate Pollutant strategy, and is one of California’s strategies for reaching the statewide 75 percent recycling goal. Collecting and processing organic materials, particularly food, is also the focus of AB 1826, which mandates such efforts beginning April 1, 2016.

To stay informed on the latest information on organics issues, sign up for email updates by joining a CalRecycle listserv, such as “Organics Materials Management,” “Conversion Technologies,” or “Climate Change.”

Our meal tomorrow is Chicken Enchilada Casserole, hot buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, Orange slices, chips, rice from El Pescador.   When it’s cold, fewer of the river people come top side, but we see them the next day at the Drop-In Center.  We are good with that.

Our Goal:  End Homelessness in Santa Paula  

When you shop Amazon, go to www.smile.amazon.com and specify SPIRIT of Santa Paula as your preferred charity. We are a 501C3 corporation.  EIN 27-0005506.

Donations are welcome at our website and facebook pages.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of SPIRIT of Santa Paula.  She can be reached at 805.340.5025.

website is http://www.spiritofsantapaula.org.

Address is 113 North Mill Street, Santa Paula CA 93060.

Mailing address is: P.O. Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728

“Serving the least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in our Community.”

The Good Neighbor Award 2017




A Homeless Person In a Child’s Eyes – Week 477 on March 7, 2018.

While our goal is to end homeless in Santa Paula, you’ve heard me say many times that Many Meals is much more than a weekly hot meal for some our most vulnerable and least powerful people. It has been about connecting with people who are hungry, facing hardships and are homeless. We believe if we continue to do this work, we will help people through hard times and eliminate homelessness from our community.

We just found an angel who had four bicycles repaired. We have gifted them to certain people with the written agreement the bicycle will not be sold.

We found an angel who has agreed to cover the cost to hire a fundraising organization to help us secure reliable funding for our programs.

Another angel has offered to donate small parcels of land in the Cuyama Valley for us to sell and use for our services.

On particular unintended gift to our community has been the involvement of so many of our youth in this work of serving, loving, caring and respecting people from the most generally neglected and despised segment of any population. Each week, 20 to 30 students join us to prepare and serve food and clean our kitchen. They don’t have to come and only a handful are doing it for community service credits from school programs.

Recently, a parent shared with me the writing of her young teen after her experience at Many Meals. It was to complete a school assignment.

She wrote:

“My task for this week was to take a fork and spoon and wrap it in a napkin, handing it to the guests as they come by for their meal. It told them my family and I would pray for them and that God is with them.

 My service showed God’s love in action in many ways. First, I showed the homeless that there weren’t alone and I cared about them. Second, while I was serving them, I told them about God a little and said that He loved them no matter what they did.

 Third, I did what I think God would want me to do by helping the homeless improve instead of criticizing, making fun of them or just staring at them. I don’t think God wants us to just pity the homeless, but to see that they need help and then actually help them.”

That is enough for tonight. Like I said, Wednesday is more than Many Meals.

Tomorrow’s meal is lots of ham and cheese casserole, romaine lettuce salad with tomatoes, rolls, and orange slices.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of SPIRIT of Santa Paula.  She can be reached at 805.340.5025.

Our Goal:  End Homelessness in Santa Paula  

website is http://www.spiritofsantapaula.org.

Address is 113 North Mill Street, Santa Paula CA 93060.

Mailing address is: P.O. Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728

“Serving the least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in our Community.”

The Good Neighbor Award 2017



“When Showers Come to Santa Paula” – Week 476 at Many Meals on February 28, 2018

Ninety days ago, I had a tiny vision of what it could be like to offer hot showers to a group of homeless people who could also see a health care professional, receive information on Medi-cal, get help for substance abuse, infections, aches and pain, receive a lunch, clean socks and underwear, a haircut and encouragement.

Last Friday, the vision became an amazing reality as the “Leadership Eagles” in Ventura County and Santa Paula gathered at a humble church location to dedicate the Care Pod and launch the One Stop Program which is part of the Whole Person Care program for the benefit of Santa Paula’s homeless population.

Welcoming almost 100 people in the church parking lot was Pastor Pablo Rovere of the El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church, where the Care Pod is located. Attending the ceremony were Supervisor Kelly Long; Dr. Johnson Gill, Director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency; Mike Powers, Chief Executive Officer of the County of Ventura; Dr. John Schipper, Adult Division Chief Ventura County Behavioral Health, City Manager Michael Rock; Santa Paula Council Members John Procter, Clint Garman, Jenny Crosswhite and Martin Hernandez; Police Chief Steve McLean and Sergeants Walt Harper and Scott Varner; Fire Chief Rick Araiza and SPIRIT of Santa Paula Board Members and volunteers.

Santa Paula was chosen to be the site of the first Care Pod. These units are constructed by the WoodStock Company owned in partnership by retired Fire Chief Vern Alstot and Woody Bouska.  Volunteers John Lopez and Rick Carney from Catalyst Church in Santa Paula open and close the pods each Friday. Jill Wallerstedt, Melinda While and Petey Reyna welcome guests and hand out supplies and gifts. Friends of the El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church help with snacks and provide support and encouragement for the guests including Louise Vega, Nicey Cabral and Laura Hernandez.

You can’t say thanks enough. You just can’t. Remember that the goal is to end homelessness in Santa Paula.


On other notes:  Ray is back in town after a 30-day stay recovering in a care facility after an emotional breakdown.  He looks so good and is feeling good about himself. The very bad news is that he was discharged to the streets. This is the first step in a setback. We have to provide transitional housing or  there will not be an end to homelessness. It’s very simple. The STAR had a significant editorial on this topic after the propane heater exploded at River Haven this week killing the occupant of the dome. It shouldn’t happen and it’s tragic.

The Homeless Count will be completed tomorrow and we did a better job of finding more of our people rather than limiting the count to one day at one point in time. Thanks to the volunteers for making that happen.

Food Rescue is alive and well thanks to Public Health Director Robert Levin. Another planning meeting was held this week with many good partners participating like Food Share, Food Forward, Project Understanding, and various County agencies.  CalRecyle awarded a $750,000 grant to help stop putting organic material in landfills and reduce greenhouse gases.  This link provides a very educational instruction on the topic: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/climate/organics/

Finally, the best news ever came today when one of our homeless men over 62 with a documented disability was awarded a housing voucher where he can live out his days in clean and safe housing. It is part of the Pathways to Home Project. Six units in Santa Paula have been designated for this category. They are the new units on 12th Street.

Tomorrow’s menu will be our famous ham and baked beans, rice from El Pescador, green salad with tomatoes, veggies including carrots from Garman’s Pub, warm tortillas  and orange slices. Thanks to Tom and Hank for helping out at Food Share today.

As always, Wednesdays are more than Many Meals. There are many people to minister to and serve.

Next Week “A Homeless Person in a Child’s eye

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of SPIRIT of Santa Paula.  She can be reached at 05.340.5025.   website is http://www.spiritofsantapaula.org.

Address is 113 North Mill Street, Santa Paula CA 93060.

Mailing address is: P.O. Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728

“Serving the least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in our Community.”

The Good Neighbor Award 2017



​ “Dying in the Streets With Your Rights On” – Week 475 at Many Meals – February 22, 2018

I commend an article to you about the sufferings of homeless people with a mental illness. It was written by Lloyd I. Sederer, MD   “Dying In the Streets With Your Rights on” .He is a psychiatrist and treated many patients.

Linda Bishop was found dead, presumably from starvation and hypothermia, in a home she had broken into in New Hampshire several months after she had a two-year psychiatric hospitalization. Her last journal notation was in January 2008, and her body was accidently discovered in May.

Neither Bishop’s sister, a longtime advocate for her (who works in the justice system) whom a court years earlier declined to make Bishop’s legal guardian, nor Bishop’s daughter were informed of her condition during her extended stay in New Hampshire’s state hospital — nor were they told when she was discharged. Instead, a fantasy relationship that Bishop had for years in her head, with no contact with the man was her plan for support, even marriage, upon leaving the hospital.

“The story of Linda Bishop’s multiple psychiatric hospitalizations, her misdemeanor (non-violent) offenses and time in jail, her abandonment of her teenage daughter, her assertion that she was not mentally ill and her refusal to follow any treatment plan, the lack of evidence that she could care for herself, and the self-imposed distance from her family was all too familiar to me and my colleagues working in public mental health, even if the details of her situation may vary in some ways from others. Recognized experts (and longtime colleagues) Drs. Tom Gutheil and Paul Appelbaum in 1979 (!) aptly called this type of tragedy “rotting with their rights on.”

 Our laws stipulate that Bishop had to consent to provide information to her family, which she did not. Privacy violations would have been the consequence of the hospital contacting her family during the hospital stay or at the time of discharge. Bishop’s “right” to live where (and how) she wanted derives from legal rulings that stipulate a person’s right to live in what is called “the least restrictive setting.” The letter of the law had been met. And the patient died.”

We see this developing in many of our people and have seen deaths as the result of people not able to do for themselves. We have to do better.

A part of doing better will be revealed on Friday morning at 9 am and you are all welcome to attend.  The Ventura County Healthcare Agency is hosting a ceremony to introduce and officially launch the latest effort in their Whole Person Care Program. The Care Pod/Shower facilities will be open for viewing along with the Islas Mobile Care Unit which serves the Santa Paula homeless population every Friday. It is the new One-Stop Center for preventative care and addresses mental and physical health issues.

It will be at the site of the Care Pod at El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church, 1029 E. Santa Paula Street in Santa Paula.

Please join us for a brief program. You will meet our Supervisor, Kelly Long; Ventura County CEO Mike Powers, Ventura County Health Care Agency Director, Dr. Jackson Gill, and many others who made this possible.  It is a dream come true for a small organization like the SPIRIT of Santa Paula and a small church to be a part of such a magnificent program that adds quality to the life of many people every Friday.

The Homeless Count is this Thursday, February 22, 2018 starting at 6 am. If you are interested in helping, call me at 805.3340..5025.  There is a final training on Wednesday, tomorrow February 21, from 3’30 to 4:30 pm, at the administration building of the Ventura County Government Center, 800 South Victoria, Fourth Floor, Pt. Mugu Conference Room.

If you want to participate in the Santa Paula Count, please register at the United Way’s volunteer site  http://www.volunteerventuracounty.org/aem/general/event/?doc_id=4649.

We will meet at 8:30 am in Santa Paula at 113 North Mill Street for assignments. If anyone would like to help count at Many Meals tomorrow night, please come at 4:30 pm, 121 Davis Street.

To our menu. Food Share had a great supply of hot dog buns today so we will be serving the ever-popular all-beef dogs from Costco, Spanish rice from El Pescador, fresh cook carrots supplied by Garman’s Pub, chips, orange slices and romaine salad with tomatoes and sesame dressing.

Next week:  A homeless person in a child’s eyes.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of SPIRIT of Santa Paula.  She can be reached at 05.340.5025.

website is http://www.spiritofsantapaula.org.

Address is 113 North Mill Street, Santa Paula CA 93060.

Mailing address is: P.O. Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728

“Serving the least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in our Community.”


The Good Neighbor Award 2017


Balance Customs with Courtesies in Real Estate Practices 

Kay Wilson-Bolton

February 15, 2018

It is no secret that just about everything we do takes place quickly — or it is designed to.

One outstanding example is found in how we get real estate documents signed. Some years ago, electronic signing made its debut. No longer did we need to meet face to face. What we sacrificed was the personal connection and the ability to explain documents clients are asked to sign. This is particularly true of seller’s disclosures. There are many reasons why an agent should sit with their client, if possible, and help them complete these documents.  If the client is a distance away, even a phone call would be helpful.

While the question on a disclosure generally is, “Are you aware?”, many clients are quick to simply answer “no.”  But, when it comes to the question of neighborhood noises and nuisance, it is helpful to think through possible scenarios. Does the neighborhood have a teenage in a band that practices loudly four days a week after school? Are there barking dogs? Do neighbors rent out rooms in their house generating numerous cars on the street in front of the client’s house? Is the fence on their property line, or on the neighbor’s. Is there a recorded easement to use a driveway or was it a casual agreement?

There is now a trick question on our standards forms and that is “are there any plumbing fixtures which are non-compliant with regard to updated efficiency guidelines?”  That answer is more often than not a “yes”. And, it’s really easy to miss a particular signature at the very top of page 3.

Talking it out gets a better disclosure and that produces a better future for everyone.

The real change began when the fax machine allowed us to transmit documents across town without getting in our cars. It was back then when Realtors ceased meeting as the clients’ house to present offers and discuss the merits and details. The real advocacy of real estate sales died a sudden death.

As we move even closer to wordless communication with email and texting, the challenges magnify because many of us have given up land lines and rely on cell phones. Many of us keep our phones on 24/7 for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it remains the only point of contact in an emergency.

That needs to be remembered when a sudden thought occurs in the middle of the night and we want to hurl a message into space, thinking it will arrive in the morning. We know it lands in an instant and should remember it will awaken the recipient.

Exceptional courtesy is to keep texting and emails to the hours of “Do Not Call” — not before 8 am and not after 9 pm. Getting a text about a termite report at 2 am is not helpful. If you aren’t really awake, it is tempting to text back, “Thank you” and of course as you doze off, comes another one stating, “You are welcome.”

Common courtesy should be to limit bad news to daytime so the processing factors are more manageable. What prompted this column of hearing from a client that their agent in another city sent a text at 10:15 pm to report their seller had accepted another offer.

I encouraged the client to tell their agent to save news like that til morning. She admitted that there was little sleep that night. Further frustrating was their inability to do anything to combat their situation.

The days of a kinder and gentler business environment can be reinstated but we have to work at it using the new rules of communication. This is true of our world in general. Our best roles in life are to be patient, helpful, accommodating, encouraging and forgiving. I’m going to start on that again tomorrow and send a text to myself right now to remind me! 

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a broker associate with Century 21 Troop and has been serving Ventura County homeowners since 1976.  She can be reached at 805.3340.5025. Her blog is http://www.KayWilsonBoltonblog.com



Don’t trust “them” to help you. Real Estate Fraud is Real and On the Rise.

February 14, 2018  By Kay Wilson-Bolton

These are the facts in a real and current tragedy. The owners were three months behind on the payment of their second mortgage to an off-brand mortgage company. They were current on their first mortgage with a known reputable conventional lender.

They received a call from “Charles” who told them he could modify their first and second mortgages bringing their payments below what they are currently paying. He explained over the phone how it would work and made them sound like his new friends.

All they had to do is wire him $10,000 up front, send him the monthly payments for the first and second, and he could take care of everything. He gave them the name of his company, the address and made friends.

The family borrowed $10,000 from a family member, wired the money, and never heard from Charles again.

The first lender foreclosed on them in December. The family is working with that bank to restore ownership of the house back to them. They have a family member willing to refinance her home and provide the money to do just that.

This dramatic event happens to almost everyone who gets a notice of default on any loan. The sharks circle and find way to attack people when they are most vulnerable.

In another case, a woman was foreclosed on and immediately contacted by a “helper” name Raymond. He told her lender had unlawfully filed the foreclosure and with the filing of certain documents, he could get the foreclosure reversed.

Claudia asked me to help her. I asked for the name and contact information of the person who called her. He was good.  He quoted all kinds of citations, case law, and federal law stating he would send copies for review. He would include a list of people he had helped and many references. I told Claudia to be very cautious… remember, he was very good.

She sent him the $2,000 and she never heard from him again.

There are laws against this and the District Attorney of Ventura County has a special fraud investigation unit tracking these crooks and thieves with the intent of bringing them to prosecution.

They partner with a handful of real estate professionals in this fight against real estate fraud, known as the Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team. Their mission is to prevent, detect and report fraudulent activities which rob people of their wealth and their peace of mind.

We ask everyone be wary of help that finds you quickly and wants an upfront fee. When those two events occur simultaneously, it is likely fraudulent. Please consult with a professional or someone you already trust to see if it smells like the real deal. You can also call the Real Estate Fraud Helpline 805.751.5899, for help in Spanish or English. Your call will be routed to the on-call professional and returned within 24 hours.

If you have a current complaint, you can go to the website for the Ventura County District Attorney and find “real estate fraud” under services. There is a complaint form which can be completed on line and sent directly to the DA’s office.

Don’t be easy targets or prey to people who want to steal your money. There is real help to be found in the right places and the right people. Visit www.refat.org where you will find a Complaint Form; call the Helpline 805.751.5899; or visit the website for the District Attorney. www.vcdistrictattorney.com.  Click on “Services and Information” and then to “Special Prosecutions” where you will find “Real Estate Fraud.”

Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team directors are: Armando Jaquez, OnQ Financial; Brooke Smith, Keller Williams; Carlo H-Banki, Department of Real Estate, Charlene Williams, Chicago Title; Cindy Diaz-Telly, Coldwell Banker; David Valenzuela from the DA’s office; Fernando Campos, Coldwell Banker; Jeromy Bagott, Bender and Rosenthal Law Firm; Jim Keith, Berkshire Hathaway; Jorge DeLeon, Coldwell Banker; Justin Alvarez, attorney from the Alvarez Firm.com. Kay Wilson-Bolton, Century 21 Troop Real Estate; Millie Gordon, Dilbeck Estate; Brooke Smith, Keller Williams; Monica Garcia, Select Properties; Tony Wold from the District Attorney’s Office; Monica Cruz representing National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.



Loving Those Rascals and Knuckleheads -Week 474 – February 14, 2018 – Valentine’s Day

“The test of love is in how one relates not to saints and scholars but to rascals.” — Abraham Joshua Heschel

I don’t know the author of that statement, but I would like to know what prompted him to write that. We will be passing out Valentines tomorrow to our guests at Many Meals in honor of the day.

I understand what it must be like for missionaries who come back to the US after serving in third world countries. They return to their former homes with new perspectives on first world problems. They have to adjust to the myriad levels of conversation of the day, the influences of advertising and commerce, the abundance of every conceivable commodity and the waste that goes with prosperity.

I feel that way often when I attend a banquet, a community meeting or celebration after spending a day with people on the margins of life, who expect a lot and give nothing. Others expect nothing and believe the life they live is as good as it can get.

Of late, I am jolted in the morning hours at the Drop-in Center by the pungent smell of wood-burning smoke in the clothes of those who have slept under the 12th street bridge where they build fires to keep warm. It’s not the pleasant smell of a campfire or that of oak wood in the fireplace. It’s sharp and penetrating. They promise every day to be at the new One-Stop on Friday, provided by the Ventura County Health Care Agency, where they can see a nurse, take a hot shower in the Care Pod, get clean clothes and visit with various health and social service professionals. Soon they will be able to get a haircut, thanks to Shea who works at Tisa’s Salon here in Santa Paula.

Daily life like this is damaging. It soon becomes their normal and out of sadness and depression comes the influence of drugs and alcohol. What comes first is different for each one. For some, it was the military first, then the alcohol. Others it was job loss first and others it was broken families. For some it was drug and alcohol use which turned into a sour and reckless life.

Whatever the story, Someone has to love them into wholeness. It’s hard because some want what they can get from us. Others often beg for help but want me to do the hard work of sobriety. They are the only ones who can do that part.

Ruth Sullivan called me this weekend begging me to help her find a place to live. She is 76 years old and has an income of $1200 per month. She is living in Oxnard and renting a room from a family who is being evicted. I have stressed over finding her a place. Today Connie De La Rosa, from Catholic Social Charities, called to state she has a room for rent in Oxnard and wanted to know if I knew anyone. Isn’t that great? They are meeting up tomorrow. One more off the list, but it’s a long one.

The threat of rain is hard on food rescue. Not sure to make the trip and risk drenching or wait it out. I long for an enclosed refrigerated van if anyone happens to have an extra one. 

Food Share’s Pam Castro called today with dozens and dozens of five gallon containers of ice cream. Hard to turn that down but we have no place to put it or distribute it.  One would be okay but not 100. Imagine someone over-making that much ice cream.

Fundraising – Susan Kulwiec has taken on the taken of helping me write grants for our work. There are so many out there but we have a very specialized service and population. You can help if you will designate SPIRIT of Santa Paula when you shop on Amazon. However, you have to enter through http://www.smileamazon.com.

Homeless Seniors: We are close to getting approved for one homeless senior, over 62 with a documented disability being approved for a special Section 8 housing voucher.  Background checks are not their friend. It’s hard for someone with those three attributes to have lived an impeccable life. Many people have written letters of support. We will know for sure this week. If you pray about things like that, please do.

The Count of Homeless Persons 2018 event sign-up page is on the Volunteer Ventura County website. This activity is an education in itself. You will be safe and with us. Please click this link to volunteer. Training will on Saturday, February 18, 2018 at 9 am. You can volunteer at:


Free Eye Glasses:  Thanks to the amazing work of the Lions Club and the cooperation of members at the Church of Christ, free exams and prescription glasses will be given on Saturday, Feb 17 from 8 am to 2 pm at Santa Paula Church of Christ, 276 W. Santa Paula Street. Call Ken Ary 805.201.5929 or Al Learn 805.525.8566. Tell someone.

Tomorrow’s menu is beef and cheese casserole, rolls, buttered cooked carrots, romaine lettuce salad and tomatoes with orange wedges. It’s hearty and delicious.

Tune in next week for “Dying in the Streets With Your Rights On.” Redefining “gravely disabled homeless.”

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of SPIRIT of Santa Paula.  She can be reached at 805.340.5025.   website is http://www.spiritofsantapaula.org.

Address is 113 North Mill Street, Santa Paula CA 93060.

“Serving the least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in our Community.”


I want them to love me – Week 473 at Many Meals on February 7, 2018

After these nearly 10 years of living with and learning from those who have made their way in life in some fashion of homelessness, I think I know most of them pretty well. Once in a while they surprise when we come at odds with each other. My stories are true, but details are re-characterized so I am not breaching confidences and protecting the innocent–and the guilty.

This week it came in odd ways. I confronted one who was gossiping about me to his colleagues about something that was so manufactured it had to be addressed. I did so privately and very directly. I wasn’t mad. I was asking a question about what he said. He got so mad that he said he was never coming back to the Drop In Center and he would just do his “own thing.” That was a week ago.

He called to today to state he would pay me on the 10th the $70 he borrowed for his car registration. He also asked me for someone’s phone number. Guess he’s not mad after all, and I made sure he knew I was happy to hear from him. His life is messed up and one day, I pray it won’t be. He didn’t get this way overnight either.

Another person served a few days in jail for a warrant. When she was taken in, she asked me to keep her bicycle for her. A few hours later her roommate came to retrieve it. This is someone she lives with and has known for many years–also known well to us.

We handed the bicycle over without a thought, but the roommate sold it. Of course, the owner is furious and not sure who to be mad it but it started with me for giving away the bicycle. This is a little complicated, right? We are trying to get the bicycle back but meanwhile I have the cold shoulder from a few.

There is always tension around 5 pm when they come to the drop-in center and want dinner. Clearly it will be a long night if their last meal was at 10 am. Thanks to Food Rescue program, we generally have fresh food of some kind, like sandwiches, fresh fruit, packaged hamburgers or burritos. We try to accommodate but can’t always meet the need due to our own work schedules.

A program we have to put in place is providing porta potties in the downtown area so the homeless population has a place to go to the bathroom. Everyone’s hates pee and poop in the wrong places. As long as we are dealing with the challenges of having homeless people in our midst, we have to do what we can to make a bad situation less bad until they are homeless no more. Chief McLean and I have identified four spots where porta-potties can be placed along with a trash bin. It would cost about $1300 per month to provide the units and service them weekly. It’s a program that needs a little money.

To entice more of our homeless population to take advantage of the healthcare services and showers on Friday from 10-12:30 at El Buen Pastor Church (1029 E. Santa Paula Street), we are working with a local hairdresser to give free haircuts… after their shower. That would put a bow around the “Whole Person Care” program of the Ventura County Healthcare Agency.

The Homeless County is set for Thursday, February 22 from 6 am to 2. We can also count at our various events not held on that day. Unfortunately, that helps us get a higher count but we want it to be accurate. Funding from Federal programs are based on our numbers. If you would like to volunteer, let me know. We will have a training program on Friday, February 16 at 9 am at 113 N. Mill Street. We are counting electronically this year! Bring you IPads and Smart Phones.

Food Share had 120 lbs of cooked ham today and we just happen to have 100 dozen eggs, so we will serve the fabulous quiche recipe again with fresh tomatoes, onions, celery, cheddar cheese, milk and salsa seasoning; complimented by fresh cooked carrots, romaine lettuce salad, orange slices, rolls and butter. This meal gets lots of thank you’s.  Hats off to the cooks who make it all happen.

We have a number of people working off traffic fines by volunteering at Many Meals. It’s a major bonus for them because they get to meet some of the world’s best people and serve some of the best guests.

Thank you to all who participate and encourage us. Someday, I hope to report that homelessness in Santa Paula is no more​ and I could look back and believe they all loved us in some way.​

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of the SPIRIT of Santa Paula who advocates for the least powerful and most vulnerable people in Santa Paula. www.spiritofsantapaula.org  805.340.5025





When the Neighborhood Gets Cranky – Week 472 on January 31, 2018

We lost another homeless person this past week. Eddy Newman was sleeping at the tracks and was found not responsive. Paramedics could not revive him. He was only 30 years old. His mother and grandmother live in our community. We are very sad about this as he was a helper at the Drop-In Center.

Not unlike our own neighborhoods, when something looks like it could change or innovators get out of line or someone crosses their turf line, it goes the same way in the outlying areas of our community where the homeless population lives.

They refer to each other by where they sleep. “They are at the tracks” or “They are at the lower river.” They tell stories on each other and love the gossip of who did what and who was arrested yesterday. There is rivalry and suspicion of the other camps. It is a sad commentary of how some live their lives. After a time, they view it as normal and don’t see themselves living any other way.

One of our reasons for serving this population is that for a time with us during the day at the Drop-In Center or at Many Meals, they get a soft touch and kind words. It brings them back to what many of them knew as children or before drugs and alcohol became what they worship. They also listen to the news. They were intent on the Thomas Fire, the tragedy in Montecito and always on national news.

Street life is hard and ugly. It’s a constant search for money for a fix or the big beer and burrito. With us, they don’t have to worry about food or bus passes for court appearances, and as a result, I think there is less panhandling. But, stealing is a way of life and they are always protecting their back backs, blankets and phones. Every day we hear a plea for another blanket, lotion, water bottles and small amounts of cash. Daily, we lose hand soap dispensers, toilet paper, and napkins.

In case you wondered, there is a rotation for who gets the hot spot at the bottom of the 10th street exit. One of them tends to sleep through his shift.

A number of our unsheltered friends are working at making things right by the law by completing community service hours. I signed off today on a completion of over 300 hours. It took her two years to do it but she did it. Whenever they start, they feel like it’s hopeless. We always take them in for assignments and they soon begin to see the wisdom of the work. They like being needed and making new friends, and before long they see the results of their good work and intentions. I tell them it’s like going on a diet. Soon those uneaten calories add up!

Last week at Many Meals, we adopted the sweet task of learning the names of our guests. Our volunteers are so amazing. There are several children from 6 to 10; many teenagers from Santa Paula High School and St. Augustine Academy, community members and leaders.  I often look around the room and see the charming variety of humanity comprised of grandmas with little ones, families in after work, and very senior men eating alone and eating generously. I wonder where they came from and how did their paths and ever cross mine? There are numerous connections for those in need with a variety of available services.

Our meals are fabulous. The 8-9 cooks who gather at noon on Wednesdays take my recipe and ingredients and make it theirs. Many of our student volunteers eat together in the dining room before they go home. That’s a testimony to the cooks, right?

Our Mental Health Moment from Dr. Miller was about eating properly and balancing food intake, relating it to the ravages of anorexia, binge eating and purging.  I have three homeless women who are on the verge of this disorder. Offering food is not always the right answer. So, we offer ourselves.

Showers – Jill Wallerstedt and Melinda White assist the County Healthcare Agency in offering weekly showers.  There are 8 – 12 weekly faithful attendees. This number will grow when warmer weather arrives. There will be a grand opening for the public to see what we are doing on Friday, February 23 at 9 am. Please come. It is located at 1029 E. Santa Paula Street, at El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church.

The Count of Homeless Persons 2018 event sign-up page is now on the Volunteer Ventura County website. This activity is an education in itself. You will be safe and with us. Please click this link to volunteer on Thursday, February 22 from 6 am to 1 pm.  View: http://www.volunteerventuracounty.org/aem/general/event/?doc_id=4649

Free Eye Glasses:  Thanks to the amazing work of the Lions Club and the cooperation of members at the Church of Christ, free exams and prescription glasses will be given on Saturday, Feb 17 from 8 am to 2 pm at Santa Paula Church of Christ, 276 W. Santa Paula Street. Call Ken Ary 805.201.5929 or Al Learn 805.525.8566.

Food Share was on alert today with a major food inspection of their facilities. We came home with 1200 lbs of food and spent $8. Lots of melons, Meyer lemons, romaine, potatoes, oranges, pears, rolls, muffins, pastries among other foods.

While it will be warm tomorrow, we are serving cold chicken curry pasta with olives, sweet relish, raisins, celery and onions. Hot buttered carrots with a brown sugar orange glaze, rolls and butter, romaine lettuce salad with tomatoes.

You really should join us. It’s my weekly adventure into a very special world of service.

Don’t forget to name SPIRIT of Santa Paula when you shop on www.smile.amazon.com. Thanks for reading and caring about what we do.​

Homeless for the Holidays at Many Meals Week 467 on December 27, 2017

This has been a month to remember with the Thomas Fire causing such fear and bringing such disaster.  Despite the impact of the winds, the terrible air quality and learning why breathing in that toxic cocktail of particles is so dangerous, the homeless population felt little impact. They were glued to the television and caught up in the reporting, but for the air quality, they lived their lives as usual.

Two reported to me recently that “we” have to serve them because I am rich and retired, and the government pays the volunteers to serve them.  Fortunately, all the others who benefit from our work and very grateful and appreciate the hot meals and now particularly the hot showers. The Welcome Center was open Christmas Day and we were able to share food and water with a number of them.

The soft launch of the Care Pods was last Friday under the eyes of County Health Care professionals and a few volunteers who welcomed those who received the first showers and registered them into the Homeless Management Information System.

Jill Wallerstedt, John Lopez and Laura Hernandez led the volunteer side. While I was disappointed only eight people took advantage of the showers and opportunities to see a nurse, the word was spread this week and I anticipate double the number this Friday. Those who enjoyed the showers commented on how good it felt and how organized it was. One is a single woman who is homeless and picks lemons for a living.

Pastor Paul Rovere from the El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church has been very welcoming and accommodating. We appreciate him and his congregation very much.

Nine families were adopted this year for gifts. It was a nice way to get to know how they live their lives. SPIRIT Vice President Lupe Servin organized Toys for Tots again this year. It was disappointing again to see some families reject many of the toys as not “good enough” or expensive enough. We are going to rethink our role in this very labor intensive task for next year. Toys for Tots is a wonderful project but as the “tots” get older, their tastes become more mature as well. The pressure on parents is not funny and hard to watch.

January 2018 starts year 10 for Many Meals. Little did we know where that first meal on January 14, 2009 would take us. We applaud the Many Meals project in Camarillo who followed us for still going strong and staying the course.

Food Share was closed today and I felt the pang of fear in providing affordably for our 600 meals tomorrow. We keep a rotating supply of food so we will be okay for this week. Thanks as always to Garman’s Pub for the fresh vegetables and El Pescador always willing to provide their wonderful Spanish rice.

We learned that Elevate Church in Newhall is discontinuing their fresh produce distributing at the Boys and Girls Club the third Saturday of each month. We thought to continue it but it would require renting a refrigerated truck, picking the up the vegetables in Pacoima on Friday afternoon and holding it for distribution until the next day. Not an easy task. Their decision to stop the activity is based on the diminished number attending on distribution day. We thank them for caring about our community.

Tomorrow’s meal will be our popular Chicken Enchilada Casserole, Spanish rice, fresh cooked carrots and chips. Hopefully someone will find some oranges so we can have a fresh orange quarter on the plate.

Thank you to those who support our work, like our stories and encourage us along the way by good words and/or financial support. If you are able to provide a donation before year’s end, please remember we are a 501C3 non-profit corporation and can provide a receipt for your tax deductible donation.   SPIRIT of Santa Paula, Post Office Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728.  If anyone out there is a grant writer, would you kindly let me know if you are able to help?