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?




Calling All Towels – Week 466 at Many Meals on December 20, 2017

The Showers are back and it’s been a long-awaited event for our homeless population, and now anyone who has been affected by fires and doesn’t have a place to clean up.

If you have one or more good-sized bath towels to spare, would you drop them at Many Meals this week? We need a new stash.

The details:  The Mobile Outreach Care Pods project is a collaboration between El Buen Pastor Church, Spirit of Santa Paula, and Ventura County Health Care Agency (including Health Care for the Homeless and Whole Person Care Programs and Las Islas Mobile Health Unit) to outreach to and provide basic services, including showers and referrals to social services for the homeless.

The goal is to bring the high utilizers of the health care system into the Whole Person Care Program where all their needs are met with a focus on connecting them to resources and reduce the numbers of ER visits to appropriate and regular care.

The Care Pods are retrofitted container boxes that include showers (including ADA accessible showers) and an exam room for very limited scope medical services (vaccinations, TB testing, brief health assessments, treatment of minor skin conditions).  The goal is to support basic hygiene and connect homeless individuals with a range of services that should support their long-term stability including mental health and alcohol and drug programs, benefits programs (health insurance, food, employment), etc.  Staffed with clinical and non-clinical representatives from County Agencies and community non-profits, the Care Pods will provide an array of needed services in a one-stop model.

How many days a week?   One day a week, but no more than three days a week per established MOU.

Services offered: Showers, referrals to social services, referrals to mental health and alcohol and drug services, limited scope medical services (vaccinations, TB testing). There will be free hygiene bags, clean underwear, clean towels for drying, clothes when available for both men and women.

Request for Duration of Permit:  Through 12/31/2020

SPIRIT of Santa Paula will be provide volunteers at the site but the County will provide the nurses and registration process linking the attendees to the HMIS, Homeless Management Information System. This tracks the utilizers of the healthcare system. In fact, we are close to getting two of our disabled seniors into permanent housing because they were already in HMIS.  We are soon to be trained in the program.

We are very excited to bring this much needed basic service back to our residents. Jill Wallerstedt has worked with the Showers of Blessing program in Santa Barbara and will be leading the Santa Paula effort on behalf of SPIRIT of Santa Paula.

The impact of the Thomas Fire on the homeless population was largely felt in the poor air quality. We provided masks and were able to keep them indoors for some of the daylight hours, but they were sleeping and breathing it all night.  They didn’t lose anything in the flames, their habitat can be almost anywhere and they know that the majority of people who lost their homes can get another one. They watched intently on television and were engaged in the sights and sounds of winds, fire and equipment. We had a huge source of fresh water bottles. I can count on them to recycle! I am attaching a chart showing the cycle of emotion following a crucial incident. It takes a year so we have many days ahead to be kind.

Mental Health Clinicians have been very attentive to us at Many Meals and the Drop in Center. We have had a fair share of high energy incidents at Many Meals and two of those were caused by people in great need of high levels of care. One is now in a treatment program and unfortunately another one is in jail. I can only help there is an outreach there so his re-entry back into the community is a gentle one.

Christmas is here, along with the continued requests from parents for presents. It’s almost a full time job. A number of really good people have stepped in and offered to take care of a family, instead of scattering the donation.

We have missed the food from the cafeterias within the Santa Paula Unified School District. School has been out for two weeks and will not resume until January when the air quality is safer and Christmas vacation has ended. SPIRIT board member and past president, Dawn Bavero, will be leading the effort to perfect our food rescue system. A meeting has been called for January by Dr. Levin of the Ventura County Public Health Agency to pursue a concerted effort to rescue food and diminish the organic material going into landfills. The program will be called “Waste Free Ventura County”.

Our menu tomorrow is Cheddar Cheese and Chicken casserole with and bacon and cheese sauce casserole, ready-made cole slaw with ranch dressing, slices oranges, buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, roles and butter.

Our meals are always nutritious. Schools get points when their meals reach a certain level of protein and nutrition. We are mindful of the quality and character of our weekly meal.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, we thank you for being faithful to this work. If you shop Amazon, please us www.smileamazon.com and specify SPIRIT of Santa Paula as your designated charity.

If you can give a year end gift, please do so. The address is PO Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728.

Kay Wilson-Bolton, Volunteer Director

SPIRIT of Santa Paula

a 501C3 Corporation founded in 2002
Serving the Least Powerful and Most Vulnerable in our Community

Lost Three This Week – Week 432 for Many Meals in Santa Paula April 26, 2917

Three of our regular attendees at Many Meals lost their life this past week. Kind of shocking really, but one had a better ending than the others.

Hank Garcia lived at the 12th Street railroad tracks and suffered from diabetes. He had a terrible incision in his leg as the result of a wound but despite poor vision managed to ride his bicycle back and forth. He just gave out after a diabetic episode. Henry was around 50 years old.

Victor Sanchez had been released from jail last Wednesday arrived at Many Meals to help out. He is Pete Reyna’s brother. Victor became ill in the night and was rushed the hospital at 3 am. Doctors performed surgery but it was not successful. He was taken off life support the next afternoon. Medical Examiner has completed an autopsy and it may be a while before results are known. I was able to reach the chaplain at Todd Road Jail in order to make notification to his long-time companion, Lissa Mata, the daughter of one of our volunteers, Hope Mata. This is a time for grieving and much introspection. Victor would be 46 on April 27.

Many will remember Ed Karpinski. He had a stellar career officiating at events for the National Track and Field Association. He was homeless in town for several years, even at the age of 74.  He slept on the bench at the Library for a long time and camped at an industrial site over by Ferris Lane. He had some legal business to take care of in Florida that would make him re-eligible for his VA benefits. We provided air fare and transportation. When he came back he worked with County Homeless Services who were able to fast track him into his own apartment. I learned this weekend Ed used me as a reference for the apartment when the Medical Examiner called this weekend to tell me Ed had passed away at home.  I also learned the landlord is a friend of mine who rented to Ed, despite everything, because I was listed as a reference. Glen never did call for one.  Some Realtor® colleagues delivered some nice furniture to Ed over Christmas and he was home at last.

This is not the way I want these men to end. I pray each day that some kinds word, some expression of encouragement or some faithful responses to who they are in God’s sight provided that cup of cool water that made them feel valued and honored by those fortunate enough to be on their path with them.

On Thursday night, I get to address the local Brownie Troop on our work and why it is important to be nice to people and help them with problems.  I’ll be filtering that conversation.

Menu tomorrow is enchilada chicken casserole, red cabbage with sesame dressing, rice from El Pescador, cooked buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, rolls and butter.

Important notes: Cook Ken Ary is recovering by triple by-pass and heart valve replacement. Cook Ron Handrock is dealing with back pain. Our drug and alcohol counselor, Jim Dexheimer working hard to regain strength after surgery and severe migraines.

Life takes its toll, doesn’t it? It also provides great rewards.  Saint Theresa wrote in her book, “The Letters”: It takes a lot of love to do small things. The smaller the task, the greater the love.”  True that.


Hats off to the School District – It’s Week 431 at Many Meals and they are working late these days. April 19, 2017

One of our Many Meals student helpers was evicted from a garage with her mother and little sister. They were in a motel til the money ran out. They are at the Lighthouse in Oxnard and traffic is particularly bad that time of day. The School District is trying to work out transportation for this 11th grader who is Harvard material. I tell her every day what my mom said, “Nothing lasts forever and you will get through this.” She was right.

There are so many stories at Many Meals. The farmworkers are working later now that days are longer and they can’t get to us before the gates close at 6 pm. Many of them come to the back door while we are still in the kitchen. Last week several arrived late and I’m not sure they had eaten all day. We would not turn them away. Each received two generous dinners and desserts.

When I got back to the office around 8 pm, I noticed that several of them had followed the Many Meals truck and three more were at the back door.  I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude for being able to serve them. I know mashed potatoes may not be their favorite food, but we had plenty of bollos and awesome chicken gumbo with salsa to serve with it.

I felt sorrow and gratitude for them.  Sorrow for the hard work they do and that few will do. Sorrow that things are better here, it seems, than they are in their home land. Sorrow they are enticed to come here and left to the elements and luck. My gratitude is that they found a welcoming place with lots of food at the end of a really hard work day that few of us understand. I am grateful they do the work that provide so much for all us. I never want to stand before God and be admonished for not honoring people who picked the food I ate.

We meet so many people with problems during the day. The Fire Department called over the weekend to see if I could help a family of three with shelter.  They had a car at least and so I suggested they stay safe for the night and see me in the morning. She is here with proper documentation, but her husband is not. He is working during the day but they are having a hard time finding a place to rent without a deposit and the ability to run

Tomorrow’s menu with be cheese and chicken burritos, fresh strawberries, rice from El Pescador and beans from the Presby kitchen, freshly cooked buttered carrots, green 3-way salad,  rolls and butter.

Thank you all for listening. I know you are grateful too.

 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


Its Many Meals – Week 430 for April 12, 2017 – Its Ken Ary Week at Many Meals

Ken Ary is one of our faithful, predictable and helpful cooks. Tonight he is having heart surgery, apparently the result of tests he had done to discover why he was so short of breath. His family is posting his condition on Facebook. Pray for Ken, if you would.

Food Pantries have a reputation for canned soup, bread and some vegetables.

You should see ours, thanks to our food rescue program and partnership with Food Share, last weekend’s pantry consisted of 1,600 lbs of frozen chicken, 100 dozen eggs, fresh asparagus, bananas, lots of fancy breads, garlic bread, sandwich bread, celery, oranges, canned fruit, spaghetti and spaghetti sauce. How good is that? Critics comment often on people taking more than they should or guessing they don’t really need it. We don’t ask questions or think that way. If there is food, we want everyone to have a fair share. You never know what two or three free meals do for a stretched budget.  Besides that, it’s not my food.

“Let your hook always be cast In the pool where you least expect it, for there will be a fish.” — Ovid

For many in our community, food pantry day is grocery shopping day and Many Meals is party time. I love seeing the line and I am so thankful God decided long before the foundation of the world was laid this would be my job.  He promised that He would prepare our hands for the work He called us to do so I have no excuse.

Tomorrow’s menu will be mashed potatoes and baked chicken with gravy, cooked peas (thank you Clint Garman and Sysco Foods), green salad, rolls and butter.

If you haven’t visited Many Meals, you should. There are 20 – 30 students each week from various schools along with young ones the ages of 6 and 8 years old. Their parents want them to have early experiences of working with adults and helping people outside their sphere. Thank you Jenny and Carlos for sharing your kids with us and setting such a good example… besides the help you provide.

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



In memory of Carlos Inchaurreui and his little boy William – Week 429 for Many Meals 4.4.17

So many people have come and gone from our lives through this work. In some respects, it’s a transient population even if the stay in Santa Paula. They are at all ages.  During the years of the winter Shelter at El Buen Pastor Methodist Church, the year we had a newborn and two families with three generations, there was a father named Carlos who had a little boy named William. He was five years old and needed love and discipline in great measure. One was easier to give than the other.

We saw them every day and encouraged Carlos to get William into some kind of daycare. First Five was the first attempt and it was a challenge. Carlos loved his little boy and didn’t want him out of his sight.

Carlos moved to Oxnard and we lost contact. I learned today that Carlos died of a seizure in his home and William has been put into foster care somewhere in the County. Please pray for that little boy. He had a rough start in life. I’m hoping any small thing that came his way because of the wonderful volunteers who were kind to both of them made a difference in those early years on the street with his dad. Foster care can be a wonderful thing for many children who come out of trouble homes. I pray this is true for William.

About 24,000 lbs of food was delivered to our community this week thanks to volunteers. That’s a lot of food. Bessie and Luis are our drivers and they are on the road four days a week. Lots of loading and unloading.

Our menu tomorrow is Stove Top Stuffing with chicken, raisins, and olives, celery and onion. You know I have to work with what I get…so Food Share had a stash of Stove Top Stuffing, so I’ll give El Pescador a break from providing rice and try this. I cooked up about 120 lbs of chicken tonight so there will be a generous amount for the dish. We will serve fresh buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, three way salad (already made) butter and rolls.

We had two families in the motel this week waiting for services to kick in. Mom and dad about 18 years old with two children. The stories are hard and so are the solutions.



More Than Many Meals for our Community – Week 428 on March 29, 2017

If you have ever had a toothache, you know they don’t heal up. Part of the tragedy of drug and alcohol abuse is that it’s easy to lose track of time. An appointment for next Tuesday at 1 pm to see about an infected tooth means nothing on Friday afternoon. The weekend is long and the pain is endless. Two of my homeless women are suffering tonight with infected teeth. The dentist has to clear the infection first and that takes 4-5 days then another appointment for the extraction—if they remember, if I can find them. Today I couldn’t.

We have two families in motels waiting for what it becoming impossible and that is to find a room to rent or a studio that will take more than two people, or any kind of rental for under $1,000. The kids have such a hard time getting to school, concentrating and doing homework when they are homeless.

The conventional wisdom is that kids are better off with parents in almost all circumstances. I wonder.

Our Many Meals cooks are amazing and put together the best food for Wednesdays. Tomorrow’s menu will be a little easier – bean and cheese burritos, rice from El Pescador, fresh cooked carrots from Garman’s Pub, shredded cole slaw with mandarin oranges and dressing, chips and orange slices.

This recipe for the beans is a favorite. We get such a collection of people coming for dinner. It’s the thing to do on Wednesday, you know. It’s also the day when its 50% off at the Thrift Store.





Re: “Let them eat cake… I mean croissants ” – Many Meals Week 427 on March 22, 2017

There are several multi-generation families who come to Many Meals. Here are two families who come weekly. We aren’t just another free meal any more.

Every week at Food Share I watch the pastry section at Food Share overflow with croissants. It’s amazing to me that so many are made. I trick to stick to the whole wheat rolls. Our cooking crew has always worked hard at balancing the meals and the menus to be sure Many Meals is nutritious for our guests.

Today there were hundreds of one day old croissants. It dawned on me  that rich people (or people with disposable income) get to have croissants anytime they want, and my guests deserve equal or better.   So, tomorrow its croissants with our spaghetti casserole with turkey sausage laced with beer cheese and spaghetti sauce, grated cole slaw and carrot salad, fresh cooked carrots from Garman’s Pub, tangerines and, of course, croissants.

Last week we were joined by Catalyst Church members who helped clean up and by members of Puente de Vida Church including about 15 kids who helped serve along with members of the Key Club from the high school. I love that kind of help. Those kids could be anywhere you know.

In case you need a little extra workout yourself, you might think about joining us once in a while. I noted the day after my foot surgery, I only walked about 3,330 steps.  Last Wednesday and six days later at Many Meals, I took 10,633 steps.

There were many stories last week. One was a mother seeking help for there three year-old put in a bad way with a caretaker to a mother with two girls evicted from a garage. Talked to police department about both. Chief McLean and Officers Cagnacci, Varner and Spencer are the best.

Okay Monty. You can go to bed now. (Monty is one of my retired volunteers with a special sparkle and appreciation for this work. He doesn’t go to bed on Tuesday night until he get the Many Meals Memo.)




Many Meals and Many Homes – That’s what we need in this Week 426 – March 15, 2017

You know it’s not a crime to be homeless, right? It’s also not a crime to be homeless and have your children with you.

When does it become a crime? Is it when the mother has been kicked out of a garage with two girls and have no place to go? Is it when they have no way to transport their personal items and no place to put them. Is it when there is no money for anything?

You put them in a motel for three nights, give them $50 for some food at the local gas station grocery store, and get the girls to school wearing the same clothes they slept in.  You call Child Protection Services and wait. You pray help comes.

Today’s event.

Since the weather will be warm tomorrow, we’ll work on a nice cold chicken salad with fresh bell pepper, artichoke dressing, onions and celery, fresh cooked carrots, slider rolls, orange slices, lettuce and romaine salad. We have new servers every week and they get a glimpse of the faceless part of our community, and often voiceless.

Grandmothers with young grandchildren, single parts, lonely adults, some on the streets, some almost there.   Our goal  is to serve them cheerfully with a generous and nutritious meal. We simply let them know this meal is for them and they are important. I so thank the Presbyterian Church for their willingness to let us use their kitchen. We make such a mess. However, at the end of the night, you would not know we were there.

Come visit us sometime. It’s a miracle every week.




Subject: The Great White Pillow Fight – Week 425 is tomorrow for March 8, 2017

Last week, Target donated about 300 brand new beautifully wrapped pillows for us to give to families. I was astonished at what happened when everyone saw them. I can bear witness that at least 300 takers had never seen a new pillow before. It was quite a sight. I’m not over it yet and not a story I want to tell. You will have to use your imagination.

Thanks to FOOD Share we have lots of chicken to cook tomorrow in a chicken pot pie with mashed potatoes (Marty), fresh carrots from Garman’s Pub, coleslaw with pineapple, rolls and butter. It will be a hearty meal. Last week’s Dodger dogs were a big hit. Thank you El Pescador for the generous gift of Spanish rice.

So many stories at Many Meals. We sure do attract humanity. That’s what happens when you are a lighthouse in the center of town.

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