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


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.





Housing is Still the Problem–and the Solution – Week 424 for Many Meals on March 1, 2017 – The Beginning of Lent

The issue of homelessness does not attach only to the addict. I have three serious issues at the moment and each involves children. One mother is renting a room from an elderly person here in town. The roof leaked during the last rain so extensively the ceiling fell in on . There is now serious mold and the 7 year old has been in the hospital. I have to find a room for them.

A father is in a motel still with a 12 year old daughter. We are working with all the agencies to get them housed. Today was the last day in an apartment for a mother and a 9 year old daughter. They are homeless tomorrow.

SPIRIT was given a cute travel trailer today–fully equipped. I know a woman who will treat it right but there is no place to park it. It is registered with current tags. If anyone can think of a safe place I would love to know. She is highly responsible. A ranch somewhere, a parking facility of some kind, on someone’s large lot would be ideal. She works in town so needs to stay close. If you know of something, please let me know.

It is so hard just knowing the people behind these stories.

Thanks to Joey Siddens of First American Title and the Ventura Downtown Lions Club, we have about 150 quarter pound all beef hot dogs to serve in the dining room tomorrow include matching buns. They are monsters. It will be fun serve them.

Regular beef dogs will be served for takeout along with coleslaw and pineapple, chips, cooked carrots, orange slices and SP Fire Department beans cooked for a recent barbecue.

Easy menu on the cooks this week. Our new convection ovens allow us to bake the dogs—what a difference in taste from boiling them.

Only beef dogs served here! Thank you Food Share for being our excellent partner.

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




Subject: Many Meals and Many Needs – Week 420 – February 1, 2017

A new month presents itself with a variety of opportunities to serve our community. Once again, over the weekend, our Police Officers came across a dad and his daughter with no place to stay and no resources. I so hoped to establish an emergency fund for a couple of nights lodging. One officer put the hotel bill on his credit card. Don’t you know that a circumstance such as that one is complicated? Many of our officers are so kind.

We lost one of our volunteers on the way to rehab. He was self-detoxing for a few days and because no bed was available he went back to drinking. Detoxing is hard on the body and the rehab is hard to get to because of it. He is now back to zero-minus. It’s so hard to watch.

Our menu tomorrow is the Good Shepherd’s Pie —  ground beef (thanks to Food Share and the Fair Animals), corn, peas, fresh carrots from Garman’s Pub, Brussel sprouts, mashed potatoes (Marty Pettit) Romaine Salad, orange slices, rolls and butter.

Jim Dexheimer is back with us after some diagnosis scares and some surgery. Our work is incomplete without him helping me with that piece.

Based on the first of the month, it will be a sell-out crowd. I’m so happy to days are lighter later. Clean-up is so much easier.

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


Subject: Many Meals – Entering Year Number Nine – This is week 417 for January 11, 2017 – It’s Not About the Jacket

Hello to all. The rain is so wonderful but we were off about 100 people last week because of the wet weather.

Some of you heard about the interesting event last week where one of our homeless guests ended up with a jacket that didn’t belong to him.  Before we realized the jacket was missing, he had come to the back door and turned in a set of car keys, saying “Here, I don’t need these.”

We announced to the volunteers that someone had turned in a set of keys. When she recognized her keys, she realized her jacket was gone. We were all quiet for a minute, realizing that he could have taken her car, but only wanted the jacket.  It’s an interesting story of integrity and thoughtfulness at a time and place and from people where we do see a lot of it.

So, rather than focusing on the jacket, we are commending the dinner guest for returning the keys. So, it’s not about the jacket after all.

I know it’s the influence of being in a church, being welcomed into a warm safe place, and served generous amounts of really good hot food. Our volunteers, many of the teens (who could be anywhere) are so gracious to the guests, particularly our senior citizens. It’s heart-warming to witness such courtesy.

We are so grateful to the Presbyterian Church for hosting this weekly event and to the many churches that provide volunteers and encouragement and support. We are especially grateful to the two church members who provided the equipment to make us a “legal” kitchen. Rod Thompson has been so generous with his time and skills; John and Susan Kulwiec provided the drawings and design for the placement of the equipment and shepherded us through the County’s Environmental Health division

Tomorrows menu is Enchilada casserole with ham, corn, olives and black beans; coleslaw with pineapple and raisins, rice from El Pescador, orange glazed cooked carrots from Garman’s Pub, butter and rolls and fresh strawberries.

Tim Mason has been a regular at Many Meals along with his friend Marilyn. We hope he is back soon sharing dinner with us.

Our drug and alcohol counselor Jim Dexheimer is still challenged with resting after facing some surgery and cancer scare. We need him back with us. Get to it, Jim. Semper Fi.  (Really, Viet Nam.)








Realtor Safety in a Changing World …Fear No Evil and Protect Against it


October 5, 2014

The recent tragic murder of 49 year old real estate agent, Beverly Carter in Little Rock Arkansas, is an urgent reminder of the need to fear evil—and take correction action against it. Realtors live the American dream. We are not tied to a rigid schedule except that which we impose on ourselves. We are not limited to wage restrictions, we meet the public where they need us to be—and we love what we do.

We share our knowledge and skills with anyone who asks. We are the gatekeepers of an industry that has outpaced anyone who did not embrace the changes that come with technology. We go where we need to go at often the whims and needs of the public to serve them and complete our tasks. It is time for all of us to examine our “open door” business practices and begin to “fear evil” with wisdom.

The world has never been a safe place, but there was a time when we were considered unlucky if something bad happened to us. Now it seems we are lucky if something bad doesn’t happen.

Our new personal commitments to safety will vary within offices and with practitioners. It is clear that the consent and cooperation of the public will be needed to help us stay safe.

For example, some may begin to ask you for copies of your ID before embarking on a business relationship. Please don’t be offended. While we don’t think you would cause harm, we know that someone out there could.

Some may ask for the first meeting to be at the office. Buddy systems should become standard operating procedure. Agents will check in and out of offices and destinations will be left with the administrator. 911 will be saved as a “favorite” on the phone.

Open houses will not be held without another realtor or lender partner in place. We will be more vigilant and we won’t carry money or purses. We may carry pepper spray and other protective devices. Vacant homes create a different kind of opportunities for mayhem and should be avoided, particularly in isolated areas.

We will re-think our willingness to share our success stories with the public. Prosperity is a coveted thing in our society but is often viewed with contempt. We should not be judged by our financial success anyway, but by our skills and commitment to serving well. Many will be more circumspect about how we promote our services.

Wisdom will require we not work at the office at night alone unless doors are locked and the car is parked in a lighted area. We will not take chances. There has always been wisdom in using caution. Soldiers do that by nature. This view of life is common in almost every country but we in America feel secure in light of all the freedoms we enjoy. The goal is to balance fear with wisdom.

Changes, if any, will be individual but there will likely be a generally rising of the tide. We will ask you to help us. We are your sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues. These are different times and there is a new call to action.   Only the foolish will think business is usual is acceptable.

Kay Wilson-Bolton

Real Estate broker


End of Life Activities

My Look at His Book

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

March 1, 2005

Notary work at the rest homes usually involves meeting with family members who are helping their elderly parents or relatives make final arrangements for someone else to handle their business.

I really wish the patients would deal with these matters before they get to the rest home so that the stress of “final” days is less.

There have been occasions when it was too late for me to help because the patient was not able to understand what documents they were being asked to sign.

I was not prepared for my last appointment which was to notarize the final will and testament and durable power of attorney for someone I knew, a 50 year-old Santa Paula man dying of cancer.

Because he had no immediate family to help, and his mother was in a room down the hall, two high school chums had accepted the responsibility for his cats, his apartment and his personal business.

They told me that he had about two months to live.

After concluding our business, and some friendly chit chat in which he participated, I put my hand on his and told him that God would heal him on either side of eternity.

I wanted desperately to pray for him but I sensed that his friends were not ready for me to do that, so I prayed anyway in my heart and in my car.

I told him I would be back for a visit and he seemed glad to know that. I found an extra book I keep on hand called, “A Purpose Driven Life”, inscribed a little note and set aside to take with me on our next visit. That was Monday.

I went back on Wednesday at 9 am and it seemed as though the front door was locked. No one paid any attention tome so I assumed they had new rules and left.

I was going back the next day but a couple of appointments toppled onto each other and I purposed to go on Saturday

The front door was locked again and I really felt as though I was not keeping my promise to visit him again to talk about eternal things and His relationship with God.

I decided to try and side door and followed someone in. I went to his room and found that his name was no longer on the wall.

An aide recognized me from a few days before and let me know that he had died.

I felt sick that I had allowed my schedule to get between me and a man facing death.   I flirted with his moment in time and it ran out for both of us. For him it was too late to hear about how God can redeem the lost; too late for me to share the Good News of salvation.

As I walked to my car, I felt the tears in my eyes, and as I sat in the car for several minutes, aching for being so selfish, I recalled the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8;

1 There is an appointed time for everything,  and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to be born, and a time to die.

We can accept God’s timetable or be crushed by it. The God who ordains the routine events of our lives is a compassionate, gracious, faithful God.. Birth and death, sowing and harvesting, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, speaking and keeping silent, and war and peace are common occurrences in life.

We must fit ourselves appropriately into God’s plan for our lives, and not try to fit God into ours.




A Hand Up and Not a Hand Out

On Homelessness in Santa Paula

February 18, 2012

Begging in the streets is an ancient tradition. People of various diminished capacities have occupied the public squares or sat outside city gates to cry out for money.  That scene  is probably not much different on the streets of America—or Santa Paula.

Our city has an ordinance against aggressive panhandling.  Santa Paula has a small number of folks who are successful at this and continue to do it because it works.  Other panhandlers are very passive and simply flash a sign.

Many services are provided in our community which should offset the need for panhandling. Homeless and sheltered folks with addictions and enslavements generally need cash for a very limited number of reasons.

For those with no financial resources, they are in need funds for prescription co-pays, bus fare, telephone minutes, and unfortunately liquor or drugs.

Recently two well-meaning women recently had a conversation on Main Street with a homeless man holding his little dog.  He has been living under the bridge for some time. Thanks to recent regular visits from dedicated volunteers, he is now staying at the Winter Shelter. One woman offered him a $10 bill for food. Sadly, the money will likely go for cigarettes, alcohol or drugs instead. By trying to “do good” in this way, we actually cause harm because we continue to fund bad habits and choices. Those doors have to close before they realize there are no options but seeking real help.

The local Winter Shelter has provided safe sleep for almost 30 persons a night at El Buen Pastor Methodist Church since the winter season began last December 3. More than 100 meals per day are being served which includes a sack lunch for everyone. We have working mothers and several children, disabled men, homeless men and women looking for work. One of the guests has a master’s degree from San Jose State University. She just can’t find a job. We have some guests who come for the evening meal and a shower.

The local transition home has housed at least 8 children and 20 adults over the past two years. They found us on their way to permanent housing.

The Drop-In Center at First United Methodist Church is a welcoming place where homeless and hungry folks can get a warm jacket, hot coffee and snacks and use the computers to connect to other resources. The Center is open weekdays from 9 to noon.

Many Meals is hosted at the First Presbyterian Church where about 650 meals each week are prepared and served to area residents. Thanks to FOOD Share for the past 162 weeks, over 64,000 meals have been served.  By USDA standards, if a family of four would take advantage of Many Meals, they could conserve up to $80 each month—a tank of gas or a utility bill to keep them sheltered and mobile.

The non-profit that supports this work has been approached by the leadership of Children’s Hunger Fund to distribute food supplies through various local churches, and plans are underway to establish a Counseling Center where people can be helped to make lasting change in their lives. Pepperdine University has selected Santa Paula’s work as a study project in their non-profit funding studies.

Sending homeless people on a bus to anywhere or simply changing their environment will not solve their problems. Changing their hearts will. These folks are battered by life and, in many cases, their own bad choices over a lifetime. The goal is to provide the tools to make good changes last.

There are at least two local panhandlers who have gathered the wrong kind of attention. One of them is a non-hearing or speaking young woman whose name has been manufactured because we don’t know who she is.  She knows “street sign language,” an informal sign language known to only a few. We have arranged for a specialist in street signing at Santa Barbara City College to communicate with her.

She is very animated when she attempts to communicate, and her behavior appears aggressive. Sometimes it is as demonstrated in a recent incident with bystanders at a local store. There are a few others who flash signs at grocery stores to gather money for prescription medications.

If you are tempted to give a panhandler something, purchase gift cards at MacDonald for $1. It gets them a hamburger meal after 11 am. Please don’t give cash.

There is a new view floating around Ventura that providing services extends the problem of homelessness. In our view, ceasing to provide services would make a bad situation worse. The goal is to keep homeless people from dying in the streets. It has happened more than once in our community. This particular work began when a homeless man from Santa Paula died in one of our churches.

It is a challenge to work effectively with homeless people and help them find that better way. It can’t all be done in a day and we wish it was for just a season. The work will likely continue in our town until every person who wants a job can get one. Til then, as hard as it is at times, we will continue to find new partners and joy in the service.

Most important, special thanks goes to the members of the Santa Paula Police Department who have the very difficult task of balancing the right combination of thoughtful care and duty to protect all citizens.  We have so much respect and appreciation for their diligent exercise of training and individual talents to make our community safe.






The Need for Regular Rental Inspections What Landlords Need to Know About the Occupants of their Home

May 20, 2014 – Ventura County Star

In this day of materialism and the media focus on super ads and impulse buying, there are many good reasons for landlords or their managers to regularly visit their rental properties.

We learned some of our management strategies the hard way. It is easy to think because the rent is paid on time and the neighbors aren’t complaining that all is well with the tenants and the home.

There is just no substitute for a regular visit to the property and there are many reasons why. Most tenants prefer to avoid inspections and some will be insulted by the suggestion.

Unchecked leaking faucets or hose bids set up conditions for mold, let alone wasted water.

There are a number of signs that a visit may be needed sooner than later. One is where cars are consistently parked in the driveway and not parked in the garage. It could be that there is an inordinate collection of “stuff” in the garage or people are living there.

Too much “stuff” creates fire dangers and too many people create many hazards particularly in condos when a fire caused by electric overloads immediately impacts adjoining units and innocent parties.

If someone is living in the garage, there is usually a refrigerator, a microwave and a heater of some kind.

Landlords who restrict renters to those who do not smoke in the unit might find them smoking in the back yard. Carelessly tossed cigarettes amid too much stuff, particularly in dry weather and unwatered yards are known to start fires.

Cluttered rental units pose a number of threats to health and safety.

Poor housekeeping should alarm every owner. It can range from unpleasant and unsightly conditions to those that are clearly unhealthy.

Food improperly discarded can be buried by dirty dishes, newspapers and boxes. Such conditions also make it hard to clean in corners, cupboards and dark places such as closets.

There are few worse nightmares than a unit overrun by cockroaches. Landlords who hire service companies to spray must require they be notified immediately when tenants do not allow entry or are not prepared for the treatments.

Most companies charge for the service whether entry is granted or not.

Cockroaches can destroy a unit and their presence is beyond disgusting. They love the dark places and end up in appliances which before long become unusable. It is even hard to find someone to discard such an appliance because cockroaches stay imbedded and travel with it.

In reality, an overcrowding situation is hard to catch because notice of a pending inspection is often sufficient time for the tenants to hide the evidence of multiple occupants.

In a recent fire in the County, there were 11 adults and 7 children living in a four bedroom apartment. The adjacent unit had 9 adults and three children. No one was injured and one unit was saved by the local fire department.

The landlord may not have known about the high occupancy. However, the possibility of multiple deaths in a situation like that is extremely high.

One obvious warning sign is two doorbells at the front door of a single family unit.

Another area of concern is when tenants rent rooms to families who bring in refrigerators and tap into electrical and cable tv services. In a current situation, a family of two adults and three small children were renting a room when the water was shut off for an  unpaid bill. The sub-renters gave the primary tenant $500 but the money was not used to pay the water bill.

Shortly after, the bed bugs arrived and the children were covered with bites. Fortunately one the parents became employed and they left behind everything they owned to not take the bugs with them.

The owner resides in a distant city and had not seen the unit for two years. She was appalled at what she found and the remedy is incredibly expensive on top of the lost rent.

Excessive occupancy is hard on plumbing. Water bills caused by heavy use of the showers can run very high and create situations for mold . This is particularly true during colder weather when windows are not left open.

Over-crowding also means extra furniture, and the potential for mold build-up between the wall and the furniture is great. Extra moisture is in a room where there are lots of people and ventilation is inhibited.  This occurs when bedroom doors are individually keyed and families live behind locked doors.

A recommended safeguard is to put a statement into each rental agreement that landlords will inspect the unit with proper notice. It is best to not state how often because it may become evident that more frequent inspections are appropriate.

If the tenant protests, assure them it is your way of being a conscientious landlord and manager. If they don’t agree, let them be someone else’s tenant.

Above all, be sure to check references and verify employment. Credit checks aren’t as important as they used to be, in my opinion,  but reports from previous landlords are. Be sure to compare phone numbers on the application. It’s happened where the phone number of the previous landlord was instead that of a relative of the applicant who pretended to be the previous landlord. We knew because the person couldn’t answer the questions of how long they had resided at the property and what was the previous rent and deposit amount.

Verify all written information and follow the laws that prevent discrimination of any kind. It’s okay to be generous and give someone the benefit of any doubt.

When in doubt it is best to consult an attorney with real estate and property management experience.

Wisdom is necessary to protect yourself from grief and your property from neglect and abuse.



Kay Wilson-Bolton is a real estate broker and property manager since 1976.

The Pitfalls Of Research.


By Kay Wilson-Bolton

President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

April 30, 2000

Recently a client of a REALTOR® was trying to purchase a home in the country that was more expensive than the one they were selling.  Being disabled, the buyer asked her REALTOR® to call the County to see what being disabled might mean in the way of property tax benefits.  It is a question on the Preliminary Change of Ownership form that is submitted to the Assessor’s office at the close of escrow.

The REALTOR® agreed to call the County and learned that if there is a true disability, the buyer could transfer their tax base to the new purchase based on an IRS tax code.  In this case, it meant a savings of about $2000 a year.

This is a dangerous trap for a REALTOR® — wanting to be helpful, needing to be careful and being fearful that he or she misunderstood the information.

In another case, a buyer wanted to know if the owner had permits for their guest house and asked their REALTOR® to go to the County to make that discovery.  Sure enough, the permits were in the file.  Unfortunately, the REALTOR® did not check to see if the permits were signed off.  Everyone discovered later that the permits had expired and the building codes had  changed.

A REALTOR® went to their City to view a property file to see if a family room addition had a permit. He discovered no permit and no application fee.  The City building inspector visited the property the next day and cited the property owner for the illegal room addition.

It’s a wrenching decision for REALTORS® to decide where the lines of helpfulness and liability cross.  Fortunately the laws have made it clear that agents are not responsible for checking public records.  But what does one do when their client is 80 years old, no longer drives or doesn’t hear well but is held accountable for providing good information?

Right or wrong, REALTORS® will likely err on the side of good service.  After all, that single element will keep REALTORS® at the center of the transaction.  No website can provide that service.

In your real estate activities, consider contacting a REALTOR® first. Not every real estate agent can use that name and there is a difference.  REALTORS® have subscribed to the National Code of Ethics that are clear and commanding and provide a baseline for performance.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is president of the Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® .  For more information, contact Bob Seitz, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is http://www.vc-realtors.com