News from the Streets of Santa Paula – Week 493 for Many Meals on July 11, 2018 – “Am I Mentally Ill?”


This Week’s Many Meals Menu: Southwestern Pasta, Cooked Carrots from Garmans Pub, Cole Slaw with Craisins, Chips and Orange Slices. Anyone is welcome

June Food Pantry: 6,000 lbs; June USDA: 6,000 lbs; June Food Rescue: 9,120 lbs

Word of Wisdom – The only thing more exhausting than having a mental illness is pretending you don’t.”

It was a setback this week for a homeless senior to see the documentation provided by her doctor supporting her eligibility for permanent supportive housing. He has to certify her physical disability and added her mental challenges as well.

The last thing anyone wants to hear is that they are mentally ill, especially when they believe they are not. She wanted to cry and asked me if I thought it was true. The only way I could honestly answer her question was to admit that, in some way, all of us suffer from some mental instability.

When you think about it, we all have some fear of man, nurse grudges, look for the bad instead of the good all around us, and we are apt to criticize more than praise. I’m working on my own illnesses all the time.

The 2020 Census Is Here

Sacramento State Downtown

School of Public Affairs is Hosting a Convening Session for the Upcoming Census: There is a special area of the census for those who are hard to count.

There is a convening meeting tomorrow at the Ventura County Community Foundation starting at 12:30.

I’ve been asked to be on the panel and my question is: “Tell us a story of a time when you encountered a barrier while engaging a hard to count (HTC) Community. What strategy did you use to achieve success?”

They want a 3-minute answer to that one. Ha.


The cities of Ventura and Oxnard account for over 65% of Ventura County’s homeless population. 1,299 persons were surveyed in the annual homeless count, an increase of over 12% in the total county population. Most concerning was the finding of a 23% increase in the number of unsheltered persons. Both cities have limited year-round emergency shelter programs. The City of Ventura has 22 beds for single adults. The City of Oxnard has 35 beds for men and 61 beds for women and children.

Ventura County is looking for an experienced operator.

My name is Elizabeth. Can you help us?

That’s how the call begins. This is a typical picture of a woman who called me this week. She is staying at a local hotel and out of money. She was paying rent to a person who failed to make the rent payment to the landlord.

She has diabetes and needs regular dialysis treatments. She has no transportation, food stamp money has been used and she needs help.

Where to start? It begins with calling Homeless Services at 805.385.1800. Calling 211 will also provide various services. SPIRIT of Santa Paula has a little money if they have a place to rent as do some of the local churches. We can help with food, of course, and bus passes.

It always go back to shelter — emergency, temporary, supportive, transitional — all kinds. The needs of impoverished families are great. The burden is great when options are few.

When the Dog Bites.

A sad day for a person who has a dog and is homeless is when the dog has bitten someone for the third time. Some dogs do better than others on the street. This one doesn’t do well.

This past week, the dog lunged at one of our Drop In Center guests and levied a severe bite, drawing a fair amount of blood and requiring stitches. We had to file a police report because the owner has been warned numerous time about this dog’s potential behavior. Animal Control Officer Donovan quarantined the dog. It remains to be seen what is next.

This last week’s heat was brutal for street people. They want to be under shade and where it is cool — just like we do. There are few places for them.

There are numerous dogs among our homeless population. Most of the dogs are with people who travel solo. We know of no dogs staying at the river or the tracks.

After a recent sweep, no one is at the tracks, but they are at Steckel Park and the KOA Campground, far from town and services. We are looking for rides to the One Stop on Friday.

SPIRIT OF SANTA PAULA IS A 501-C3 Non-Profit Corp. EIN – 27-0005506

The Goal is to End Homelessness in Santa Paula.

Richard’s Drop In Center Address is 113 N. Mill Street, Santa Paula CA 93060

Open 9 am to 3 pm – Weekdays

Many Meals Address: 121 Davis Street, Santa Paula served

every Wednesday 5 to 6 pm. Dining and Take-out – Food Pantry

One Stop Every Friday from 9 to Noon – Showers, Breakfast, Lunch, Health Care and Services

Mailing Address: Post Office Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728

Emergency Food Boxes by Appt. Call 805.340.5025

Email not displaying correctly?

The SPIRIT of Santa Paula Story



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:

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 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?



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