A Hot Meal in Cold Weather is a Good Thing – Week 416 at Many Meals – January 4, 2017

Happy New Year to all – Next week is our 8th anniversary of Many Meals. What a story and what a gift to our community. This weekly gift is not a solution but it is part of the safety net that has been created in Santa Paula. Facebook didn’t exist then.

One of the great people working in the background all these years is a man named Steve Goch. He has been compiling our weekly statistics and demographic data of those who come to Many Meals.  It amounts to 400 plus faithful weeks of character recognition expertise.  The new PantryTrak system is computerized and Steve’s weekly effort will no longer be needed. I don’t think he minds. Thank you for your commitment and faithfulness, Steve. You are one of the legends of Many Meals. Steve and his wife Kathy started out in the kitchen many years ago—so much so they would bring their own knives. That is a sign of a real cook, you know.

We are starting to hear about the problems people are having with January’s rent and utility payments because too much money was spent on Christmas gifts. I so wish we could change how people view the reason for gifts. One senior citizen needed $200 to get through Christmas (no gifts purchased). She borrowed on her retirement check from the local fast cash place. While she only paid $35 for two weeks… its 319.17% interest.

I begged her to not do that again and let someone know what she needs. Accessing quick cash is a common practice among our lower income residents or those with sudden financial challenges. Once you start, it’s almost impossible to get the company paid back. It’s the art of predatory practices on vulnerable people.

Our drug and alcohol counselor, Jim Dexheimer, is facing additional health challenges with discovery of a new tumor. We miss him a lot but want him to rest and get well. Pray for Jim, if you will.

By the way… a real gift to Many Meals would be a crew of four people who would come at 6 pm and help clean up for one hour. It involves sweeping the patio, wiping down tables, putting chairs back in their place. Sweeping the dining room, washing the floors; cleaning the kitchen, loading the truck with items to return to the pantry; sweeping, wiping down counters, washing dishes and floors, cleaning the restrooms. This is ideal for someone who wants to help but doesn’t have much time. By 7 pm when we are done and the two or three who remain and exhausted. Once the dinners start going together at 4:30, its fast action til its time to quit at 7 pm. Pass the word, would you? One hour… I promise.

We are up to 14 people now at the weekly showers. Iris Perez and her family have learned a lot about the ways of our homeless population and are managing the task well. It’s a nice gift to folks who sleep in their clothes all week.

Notes to self:

  1. Find out why the City’s restrooms are locked “after hours” and
  2. Get people to donate money for tokens at the laundromat. It’s crazy to take a shower and put on the week’s clothes.

Tomorrow’s menu is ham and cheese casserole (lots of ham) with peas and peppers, 3-way salad (all prepared cooks!), fresh cooked and buttered carrots, rolls, sliced oranges and a box of cookies or a nice dessert for each family.

Thank you for making this anniversary possible.

The Many Meals Story – Santa Paula CA


SPIRIT of Santa Paula

Kay Wilson-Bolton, Director




Serving the Least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in Santa Paula CA



About Kay Wilson-Boltonhttp://www.kaywilsonbolton.netWith a full-time career in real estate, I can add to your bank of knowledge, not only in real estate but in many areas of life that deal with people and relationships and choices. My real estate career has taught me many lessons about planning ahead and looking forward. I believe in helping along the way so that they can be the best they can be in any situation. I serve as a Fire Department Chaplain and Coordinator for the Many Meals Project which serves homeless and hungry families in my community. The event is far more than many meals. As a result of my work with the homeless population in my community, I received the Good Neighbor Award 2017 from the National Association of Realtors and named as a Champion of Homes in 2015 by the California Association of Realtors. I make pastoral visits to the inmates in the County Jail System and offer them what God says about "all things being new" and His remarkable plan for our lives. I have served my community as Mayor and in many volunteer capacities. I serve others by serving God first. My husband is involved in prison ministry and is a graphic artist. We live a simple life in Santa Paula with an office cat named Scout, three rescued poodles and a cat named Tony Diane at home.

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