“I Lost it” – News from Many Meals Week 490 on June 13, 2018

Heaven promises many joys and benefits. One of them is that we will never lose anything for which we have no need–phone chargers, cars, keys, socks, pills or purses. I learned again today why the problems of homelessness cannot be solved in multiples.

It is common for people to lose the things they need to solve their housing crisis. Most of us have our ID handy, can find our social security card and at least know how to get a copy of our birth certificate in short time if needed.

This is just not so with people who don’t carry a purse, have a file cabinet or a file folder.  Today was such a day.

We are preparing one of our homeless people for subsidized senior housing. It has taken us three weeks to get a birth certificate, the doctor’s certification, her homeless history verified, her ID card and a phone that works more than two days.

Today was the day for the visit to Social Security. I dropped her off at 8:30 with money for bus fare back home and new charger for her phone.  She saw the line and thought not to stay but I told her she had to.  She was back at the office by 10:45. I asked her if she was successful and she admitted she was not because she had forgotten to take a copy of her birth certificate, even though the folder was in her hand and she couldn’t remember what name she had on her last card. She also needed her pain medication which she did not have with her.

We will try again, although not tomorrow. I would like to find someone who take her and stay with her as she works through the steps at the social security office.

Their problems can only be solved one person at a time. That is why the work is so hard and it takes so long. People who have lost their shelter lose their orientation to routine. Few of them know for sure what day it is and time has little meaning. They miss doctor’s appointments, deadlines and court appearances.

When life gets this complicated, I can understand why some self-medicate. Then, they don’t care and it’s just easier to get through today.

An interviewer asked me today what percentage of homeless people don’t want to be housed. My guess is 50%. Those who don’t are what I have described above. Rules worry them because it translates to giving up drugs and alcohol.

The other 50% will do the work to get their housing. The work cannot be done in tandem. It’s one event at a time with focused energy on one person at a time. You have to stay with it and cheer the success, however small.

Back to losing things. One of my favorite people has decided that a sober life is too hard. He has been in detox twice in the last twelve months and came back two weeks ago. He found his friends and started with a few beers. He left his back pack with me when he left and completely forgot about it when he came home. He started gathering his things all over again. They all do. They need new blankets every few days because they are stolen. They need sweaters and jackets because they lay them down somewhere when it’s warm. They lose their ID, their phones get stolen and they all want money for bus fare to go somewhere.

Sadly, critics of homeless people in general tend to generalize that homeless people “like it that way.” They forget to focus on the 50% that long for housing.

Now that law enforcement has cleared the river and the tracks, more of them are in and around town. There is no bus to take them somewhere else and they wouldn’t get on it anyway. Every community has their own homeless population. They don’t want ours and we don’t want theirs.

Ideas are being parlayed about homeless shelters. Funding is one problem but the greater one is location. Savings to taxpayers just from redirecting people from emergency care to primary health care would pay for the building, but there is no will to build one. No one wants it near them, but they are near all of us now.

We helped a woman today pay $400 for her room. We heard her story, the details of which I can hardly remember about her losing her green card and then her ID card and her monthly check was diverted somewhere else because she moved twice in a short time. And, she was about to be homeless. We talked to the landlord and she was actually two months behind but he promised to work with her. We usually never help someone who is that far behind and has no way to pay for the next month’s rent. However, when she is standing in front of you with no hope, there is only one thing to do. She is also a good helper at Many Meals.

In case you are one who thinks the solutions are quick and easy, I urge you to either be patient with those working on the problem or provide the help needed to move it along. I am surprised how many people know someone who is or has been homeless. Those who are homeless from an economic crisis can be helped much faster. Substance abuse creates a barrier  to a quick solution.

Without our partners at Behavioral Health and the Healthcare Agency, we could not look at any success. They are all amazing. We are missing our clinician, Ted Perez. A serious infection put him in the hospital. We need you, Ted.

Lots of food today from our favorite food bank, Food Share and we will be preparing a nice meal as always, thanks to thoughtful and creative. Tomorrow’s menu is ham casserole with olives, tomatoes, onions, celery and dried blueberries with an artichoke sauce; hot buttered carrots thanks to Garman’s Pub, orange slices, green salad with tomatoes and Cesar dressing, rolls and butter.

We put about 30,000 pounds of food back into the community last month, thanks to our School District. We rescued so much food. We will miss them for the summer months.

Thanks to all for the encouraging notes and your willingness to listen to the other side of the story — the human side.

Our Goal:  End Homelessness in Santa Paula  

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

Website is 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 Missing Link Has Been Identified: News and Views from Many Meals – Week 485 on May 9, 2018

The Ventura STAR has invited me to submit a Guest Column on my favorite topic. Here it is:

“Every city in Ventura County is suffering from the tragedy and loss of Mr. Mele at the Aloha Steakhouse. The sad reality is what happened there can happen anywhere. It is a matter of time until the same circumstances exist for another unstable, emotional individual to go on the attack. There are near-misses every day. I know.

Every City has homeless people. They are either to the climate and the comfort or they are homeless in their city of origin or where their kinfolk live… children, parents, and siblings. To think I could round them up and get them on a bus to go to another community is inconceivable. It’s difficult to get the to the winter shelter at night in Ventura or Oxnard because they want to “come home” during the day.

Police officers cannot be everywhere all the time. Service providers can’t provide everything people who are homeless need, especially those with the challenges of substance abuse, depression, anxiety and mental illness. The majority of the calls to the Santa Paula Police Department are for issues dealing with people who are homeless.  Most are for things they do that irritate people, not necessarily for violating any laws.

It’s a complicated problem and it’s getting worse. Good people in various places are doing some things. No one can do everything and collaboration is essential.

Serving food reduces panhandling and stealing. It also keeps them healthier while on the streets. Providing temporary shelters keeps them from peeing and pooping on the streets at night, but they are on the streets during the day without adequate facilities. Providing counseling helps but they have to make it to appointments and in larger communities transportation can be a barrier.

Individuals who are homeless create as many challenges as the population of homeless people as a whole. The way they live and where they live is damaging to the environment. The amount of trash they create makes a mess. We are working on providing trash bins and porta-potties in various locations to minimize the impact of their homelessness on our community.

Reality is that not every person who is homeless wants to live in a structured environment. They love the alcohol and drugs too much. Many of our people have said “enough”. When the last one standing is ready to say that, we will be there to take the next steps with them. Joining us will be our partners at Whole Person Care, the entire Ventura County Healthcare Agency, Behavioral Health, first responders, nurses, physicians, clinicians, counselors and many more in the network of service providers.

As an advocate for my Santa Paula homeless population, we do what we can every day to minimize the impact and the risks of living among people who are homeless. Some of my people can be aggressive when agitated. We are trained in de-escalating but we aren’t with them 24 hours a day.

There is only one real answer and that is managed care in transitional and/or permanent housing. The real barrier is no one wants this in their back yard, their neighborhoods, near schools or work centers. If you build housing away from all these services, that makes for different challenges.

The savings to taxpayers in reducing or eliminating the emergency room as their primary care provider would easily cover the cost of building or acquiring housing. One known high-utilizer of the ER had 152 visits in 2017.  Imagine the cost of that along with the cost of all first responses and treatment.

The Board of Supervisors is calling for all cities to work towards providing shelters. All experts on this topic agree that housing is the missing link and the necessary component to treatment and wellness.

Many groups are working on bits and pieces in the Continuum of Care within the County’s system. The missing link has been identified and, like the missing gene, it has to be cultivated or there is no cure in our lifetime.”    That’s a wrap.

SPIRIT of Santa Paula has a beautiful new website thanks to our creators Jenny Crosswhite (Councilmember, pastor, graphic artist) and her husband Daniel Sandoval (private investigator genius, computer geek and data analyst, and graphic artist himself). We comment them to you for work if needed on yours.  www.spiritofsantapaula.orgBill Simmons

The annual meeting of SPIRIT is coming up and taking a big part in that meeting will be board member and advisor Dr. Bill Simmons. We call him our Futurist. He helps us look at the future differently, more boldly, more wisely and more creatively.

Bill is the founder of I-PRISE Communications, a strategic planning and technology innovation consulting firm. He also serves as a senior advisor for Global Trade and Technology, a national 501C3 non-profit chartered to aid and assist in educating and training America’s current and future workers to increase the global competitiveness for 21st century STEM jobs and careers. He currently assists the Center for Threat Management and the Port of Hueneme in areas of technology innovation and the conduct of the Coastal Trident Exercise and Maritime Advanced System & Technology.  In 1995, he led the successful effort to defend Point Mugu from closure by the Federal Base Realignment and Closure.  He served as the interim President and change agent for the Ventura County Economic Development Association (VCEDA) and he established regional task forces for the Housing Opportunities Made Easier (HOME) and Preserving our Widely Use Energy Resources (POWER). Following the Northridge earthquake, he was a partner in the Fillmore &Western Railway Business Development Group creating “Fillmore Now” and was the economic jump-start in forming the Heritage Valley Tourism Bureau. He is the founding chair for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) in Ventura County. He studied aeronautical engineering and went on to earn his Masters and PhD degrees.  You can see the dimension of education, experience and leadership Bill brings to our board.

Some updates:  Noe completed his week of detox. He is on the streets tonight waiting for a bed in rehab. The streets are not a good place for anyone who is trying to stay sober. Pray for him.

One of our women who lives in a tent in an unsafe place was put on a 51/50 hold last week due to her physical and mental condition. Key people quickly found a bed for her and she has been in evaluation since Friday. I so pray something good comes from this. What good can come if she goes back to live in her tent?

Tomorrow’s menu is barbecue baked beans with chicken and bacon, rice from El Pescador, cooked buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, Spanish rice from El Pescador, croissants, chips and Pixie tangerines.

Our mental health moments at our “Family Meetings” prior to dinner by Dr. Jason Miller bring relevance to our work and our guests. We do better when we see through new eyes.

Next week’s profile is on our Finance Director and Project Manager, W. John Kulwiec, Emeritus A.I.A.

Our Goal:  End Homelessness in Santa Paula  

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

www.facebook.com/ManyMeals

Website is 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

 

 

Good News for Noe and Rocco – Week 484 on May 2, 2018

Today was a good news day but, as always, filled with contrasts.  Noe wanted in the worst way to have a magic wand waved over his love of alcohol but the best we could do is encourage him to get the kind of help that will last and that he can manage. Gloria Lozano from the RISE Team at Behavioral Health and Tom Boscarelli did not give up and were on call when Noe was ready. We knew he would and we knew they would.

Noe (on the right) presented himself at 8 am this morning and waited until 10 for Gloria to transport him to SP Hospital for clearance and then on to Kephera House in Ventura.  Please pay for Noe. The work of sobriety is hard and withdrawals are painful. Unfortunately, the best way to instantly feel better is another beer and that cycle has to be broken. Pray for him to have courage, comfort and confidence in his future.

Further, pray for housing. If he comes out and is back on the streets, he is almost doomed.   Others in the photo are Maria Sanchez who hosts the Drop In Center and helper, Larry Hicks, a member of the Behavioral Health Advisory Board.

The other good news is that Rocco is back home. Some of you know that SPIRIT of Santa Paula touches a lot of people in various ways. A few months ago, an attorney from the Public Defender’s office asked to me help with a family with six young children in great need of shepherding. Without going into detail, it has been one of the most challenging tasks. My Chaplain friend, Pam Scott, and I started with visits to the home.  Mom was working but their resources are limited. The family’s challenges have ranged from flat tires on the freeway at midnight to utility disconnections, illness, leaking radiator, legal disputes with the father, court appearances and then the dog was picked up by Animal Control last week for no tags and no rabies shots.

Thanks to SPARC, they were holding Rocco until the family could raise enough money to bring him home. The children were depressed and feeling another loss. This morning about 6:45, the youngest daughter called me and asked me to help with Rocco so she could get “happy again.” The mother called around 10 am to tell me she leaned her daughter had called and tried to apologize.

We called SPARC, provided a credit card and Rocco went home with tags and his vaccinations.  As a young one, I remember our family having similar needs but there was no one to call. So, everyone is happy again. This is Rocco, waiting for someone to come.

Our new website will be launched this week. Our favorite pastor, Jenny Crosswhite, is quite the graphic artist and her husband, Daniel Sandoval, is quite the computer geek. They have been just the combination to put our new presentation together.

Our opening pages reveal the happy faces of our amazing cooks and the launch day of our Shower Pods provided by the Ventura County Healthcare Agency.

Next week, we will introduce you to our board members. We will begin with Dr. Bill Simmons, our own Futurist. His role is to challenge us to think about our work in today’s environment with a look to the future and what we can accomplish for God’s Kingdom here and now. I can hardly think beyond today. We need someone like Bill.

Tomorrow’s menu is turkey and Swiss cheese  with tomato with a curry flavored dressing on a croissant roll, Spanish rice from El Pescador, hot buttered carrots, cole slaw with raisins, and Pixie Tangerines. Thank you Mike Shore and Food Forward.

 Our Goal:  End Homelessness in Santa Paula  

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

www.facebook.com/ManyMeals

Website is 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

 

Volunteer Opportunities

The SPIRIT of Santa Paula is a unique non-profit organization formed to serve our community. There are a variety of ways you can help us love the poor, hungry and challenged people in our community.

Many Meals – We serve about 600 meals each Wednesday from the Presbyterian Church at 121 Davis. The kitchen door is on the north side of the building. Cooking and preparation begins at 12 noon and serving begins at 4:15 pm. Decide when you would like to serve and simply show up. We provide lots of opportunities to earn community service hours.

We go to FOOD Share on Tuesdays and Fridays. We are happy for you to join us and help shop. It takes some training and only those who are interested in doing this regularly should plan to work in this phase.

Our drop-in center is known as Richard’s Welcome Center and open on Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3 m. It is located at 849 Railroad Avenue. We met and greet people who are homeless or need a friend to help them connect with resources. They can check email or listen to the news. Veronica is the site supervisor and knows where to go for help. Her phone is 805.625.4898.

We are into food rescue. Every food service organization throws away food every day. Some more than others. If you have a connection with any food service organization such as school cafeterias, restaurants, catering services please put me in touch. We know how to handle food safely and we are Serve Safe Certified. Help stop the waste. Call Kay 805.340.5025.

We provide free Biblical Counseling, believing that all we need for life and godliness is found in the Bible as stated in 2 Peter 1:3 and that hope is what we need to get through this life, 1 Peter 3:1–hope in Jesus Christ.

We also provide free neighborhood mediation to help people work through the smaller but irritating challenges.

Its all Biblical. Gods word is true and its sufficient for all our needs.

We need people to pray for us. The work is hard but the worth it beyond measure.