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

 

It Can Happen Here – News and View from Many Meals – Week No. 483 – April 24, 2018

There is great sorrow over the death of Anthony Mele, Jr. in Ventura last Thursday evening as he had dinner at a local restaurant with this wife and young daughter. This senseless, tragic death is astonishing and it points to our new reality that no one is safe anywhere. We cannot rest easy and think we will be untouched by the troubled humanity around us. Not many years ago, we were unlucky if something bad happened to us. Now, we are lucky if it doesn’t.

There will never be enough police to help them or help us. However, the new policing view has to be that both are done at the same time. We will be safer if there are better ways with more services to help our police departments help them. By helping them, they protect us.

What to do?  SPIRIT board members have asked for a meeting with a variety of leaders to take the lid off this coffin of mental illness among our homeless population. Our local officers know who the bad actors are, but they don’t know where they are all the time. One bad morning, aggravated by a sleepless night of roaming or rousting, can bring out the worst in someone. Many who see me around 9 every day are almost immovable with  frustration and loss of hope. Those with addictions are drowning in their own sense of guilt, fear and hopelessness. One was set off today because his car was towed for expired tags. He is 24 and on the streets tonight. I have no idea what he will be like tomorrow.

A 63-year old woman is staying in a local commercial business thanks to a soft business owner.  Further thanks to the new One-Stop, sponsored by the Ventura County Healthcare Agency, she received a diagnosis and some medication, but a 63-year old woman on the street is not safe. Her income is $973 per month. Not enough for a room and anything else, and I don’t know anyone who would rent to her. Another man, over 70 is staying in a building near the center of town. No shower, no cooking facilities. His income is about $900 per month.

So, I ask everyone to be extra mindful of your surroundings and support our police in every way possible. They have all been trained in Crisis Response but they can only be in one place at one time.

The call to action from the citizens of Ventura is our call as well. Some of the items cited at Monday’s Ventura City Council meeting are these:

  1. Ventura has hired 24 new officers to deal with homeless people.
  2. Define difference between homeless people and vagrants
  3. Hours of patrol officers have been extended
  4. Fire Departments and Battalion Chiefs are asked to be on the lookout for violations.
  5. One council member said she believes there are new people in town and believes
  6. they are being bussed from somewhere. People think that here as well.
  7. Councilmember Christy Weir stated that the methadone agency is no friend to the community and I agree. I have been to our clinic many times and believe it attracts drug users.
  8. Police want to focus on behavior and not just the fact they are homeless
  9. They discussed hiring an attorney to deal solely with police department issues
  10. There are nuisance behaviors that accelerates to violent behaviors
  11. They want to reinforce and elevate the laws against panhandling
  12. Ask all grocery stores to put locks on the carts so they can’t leave the premises
  13. Provide more housing: crisis, transitional and affordable
  14. Support Hannah Beth Jackson’s Senate bill for safety: Go to www.keepcalsafe.org and sign the petition
  15. Support SB 1971 on gravely disabled which allows people to be conserved for the good of the public. I wrote about this in a weekly email.
  16. Enforce anti-recycling laws that provides funds for homeless people. It keeps them  from getting help.
  17. Better lighting in all areas
  18. Increased collaboration with all service agencies and providers
  19. Work with other cities and learn about best practices.

The housing shortage is at crisis levels. Yesterday, two new homeless people were created because their cars were towed. One angel helped with funds to retrieve the car for the woman, but the 24 year old is sleeping on the street tonight. He had no money for tags and he took chances until his time ran out.  If our police are going to enforce laws, they have to apply it evenly.

The work of SPIRIT of Santa Paula is designed to end homelessness in our community. Work is being done in various planning to take us to that end. Our Project Manager is John Kulwiec, Architect Emeritus  and Fund Development Manager is Susan Kulwiec.  We are collaborating with people with have known for their good work and planning for programs we used to dream of.

I will keep you informed as doors open. Our Chief of Police and our officers are dedicated to preserving peace and helping people who are homeless where they can while keeping the public safe as a first priority.

Our new website will be up soon – thank you to Councilmember and pastor, Jenny Crosswhite and he charming husband, Daniel Sandoval. Geeks of a higher calling.

Tomorrow is Many Meals where we link up with our fragile neighbors. Thanks to the Presbyterian Church for opening your doors, to the members of so many churches who volunteer with us and to El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church for hosting the One Stop Clinic on Fridays. Showers are now from 9 am to 12:45 pm.

Our menu will be chicken pasta casserole, cole slaw with fresh pineapple, Pixie oranges thanks to Food Forward and Michael Shore,  buttered carrots thanks to Garman’s Pub, rolls and butter.

We love our volunteers, especially the kids.

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 http://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

 

 

 

When the Bridges Burn – News and View from Many Meals – Week No. 481 – April 11, 2018

Some of you know that our daily visitors at the Drop In Center are people who are homeless. They become a part of our lives and we know their stories. We learned this week the homeless count in Santa Paula is up this year — as it is in every city in the County.  Why is that?

In the years before the economy began to rebound, people who were homeless as a result of economic challenges, that started with the job loss that unraveled everything, were the easiest to redeem. If they could get a job, they could find a place or room to rent. Not so now, particularly since the Thomas Fire. The rental shortage is significant and rents have greatly increased.  A typical $500 room for rent is now $800 minimum.  The cost to get into a one bedroom apartment can be $3000 or more with deposits

By seeing them every day at the Drop-In Center we get to know their stories. It’s astonishing how many of our people who are homeless are from Santa Paula. They were born and raised here, have kids, siblings, parents and grandparents. You would think that someone in that group of people would take them in, wouldn’t you?

Their stories are filled with sorrow. They are told either in anger, disgust or matter-of-factly. The stories range from a drunken parent, addiction in the home, unemployment, to abuse and neglect. Many took to the streets early in life to find fellowship and respect.

Many stories state they became addicts at early ages. We have several situations where a parent and adult child are homeless together, living in cars.

One story is of a 30 year old girl who was abused by uncles in her own home from the time she was 10 and it continued until she was 16. She ran away from home, became an addict, has several children being cared for by family members, both parents are sick and have adult children living at home with their own children. She wrote bad checks on the accounts of family members, stole the rent money and all but dropped out of school.  She is trying to kick drugs but has a boyfriend who is also an addict, and they sleep in various places, never the same place two nights in a row.

Another wanders the streets by day and hides at night. She has mental challenges and lacks awareness of personal hygiene and self-control.  Her parents are in another city nearby. They give her $50 each week and pay her rent. They are also her payee and she receives $950 per month.  She is  lonely, talks to herself and acts out in various troubling ways. The police regularly stop her.

Another is transgender and lives in a tent in an obscure place. She had a good job and was a well-known hair stylist. She is from Santa Paula and so is her family. No one will take her in.

A young man loved his years in high school. Good student, popular in his class at Santa Paula High School. In his senior year, he learned to love the taste of beer. His parents are in town and he is on the street. There were many tries to take him home and make it work. The drinking doesn’t stop so he wanders the streets half-dressed. He now has a beard and hardly recognizable

We have two brothers who live on the street separately. Their mother just died and so there no one–not even among their seven brothers and sisters to take them in. Too much drama, too many lies, too much stolen money and too much disruption in the household. Their future is on the streets until illness or accident takes them.

One senior citizen has a small dog and spends her days sitting in her storage unit at a local storage facility. She needs surgery to correct a serious bone break. Her parents live in town and she has three adult children–and she is homeless? Over the last two days, she was contacted by four County social workers trying to connect her with housing opportunities.

One young man regularly has seizures. He sits daily in a public place hoping for a few bucks to get through the day. His parents live in town.

 

You can only how bad it must have been for al doors to close and remain sealed.  So, what to do?

Shun them? Isolate them? Ignore them? Feed them to reduce panhandling? Give them basic necessities to ease the pay of the day and discourage stealing?

The best answer is to connect with them. Be the warm fire they are drawn to so they can be directed. The work of SPIRIT of Santa Paula isn’t the solution, but the people are part of the answer. We are uniquely positioned to be the initial link to help. Most will never make an appointment at the Mental Health Clinic, but they will let social workerss and mental health clinicians come to the Drop-In Center, and over a cup of coffee make a plan.

Oddly enough, the three men who consistently sit at the off-ramps of Palm and 10th will not connect with us. We don’t really know them except we know their problems. All three are from Santa Paula and one had very prominent parents, both are gone now.

How bad must it have been so they cannot go home again. I have heard their stories and in many cases, the bridges they once walked on have been burned.

Easy for me to say, but one of the solutions to ending homelessness is to encourage people to forgive those who have hurt them and for their families to be forgiven when hurt has occurred.. I’ve had the privilege of driving some of them home to help initiate good dialogue. I have witnessed the massive amounts of hurt and pain that gets shouted in both directions.  Without forgiveness and forgetting, they really can’t go home again.

So, what to do? They need a place to gather and they need someone to talk to. That is how our days go.  Thanks to the wonderful social workers and clinicians with Whole Person Care in the Ventura County Healthcare Agency, we see changes.  Where there are kind words, there is hope. Where there is no judgment, there is relationship. That is when change can begin.

This world is very hard, and there is much sorrow and sadness. Imagine feeling all that alone, in the dark and believing there is no hope. That is the beginning of the endless cycle of homelessness. Without hope, the people perish.

That’s a wrap.

Our famous spaghetti meat and pineapple sauce is being served tomorrow with cole slaw, rolls and butter, cooked carrots and orange slices. Thanks to my friend Karen Campbell for rescuing many pounds of radishes and fresh beets right off the farm from Food Forward.  Trucks and tarps are part of our gear these days.  Lots of food tomorrow for the pantry. You can visit us on www.facebook.com/ManyMeals

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 http://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

 

Remember – They are People Who Are Homeless: Week 479 on March 28, 2018.

I “went to school” this past week at the emergency shelter for our people who are homeless. What I learned is that I must cease referring to them as “homeless people”, as my friend Jane Lax, once reminded me.

They are “people who are homeless” because they are as unique as any one of us who is not. Therefore, they must be treated one at a time. No one great plan will work for all of them, and likely even most of them.

Most of my unsheltered friends either long to have a pet or have one. Those who have pets, usually dogs, will make sure the animal is warm and eats before they do.

Thanks to our Santa Paula City Council members, City Manager, Michael Rock, and Community Services Director, Ed Mount, we were able to host an emergency shelter for those who are homeless during the storm last week in the Cultural Arts Building behind the Community Center. We served a total of 42 unduplicated people.  Many thanks to my volunteers Howard Stephen, Luis Cantero, Maria Sanchez and Bessie Crowell. We know how to sleep with one eye open.

One of the guests at the shelter had a little dog with kennel cough. I’ll call the owner Chris to avoid using real names and identifying male or female.

The dog coughed all day and all night and the owner stayed awake most of the night on a phone that didn’t work.  And, there was constant chatter between the Chris and another guest. Chris had been in the hospital for several days, and the dog was fostered by a kind person who even offered to provide a surgical procedure on a tumor on the dog’s leg. The owner refused the surgery and felt the dog would get better on his own.  On Friday, my Howard took the owner and the dog to our vet who prescribed an inexpensive, over the counter medicine for the cough.

We closed the shelter on Friday and didn’t see Chris again until Monday at the drop in center. The dog was much worse. I asked if the dog had been receiving the recommendation and was told that taking care of the dog was her business, not mine.

I went back to the vet’s office and got the Amoxicillin, a common antibiotic and took it back to Chris who refused to administer it. The dog was in great distress and coughing constantly. We had serious words about neglect, duty and cruelty. I told Chris if the dog was not treated, I would report the situation to Animal Control. Chris left the office in a fit of bad language. I went to SPARC (our no-kill shelter) to get some advice and Donovan, the Animal Control Officer, happened to be there. He had received my message and knew who I was referring to. Chris had been at SPARC before and caused a scene there over the dog’s care. He stated he could issue a citation for neglect — if he finds them.

I know not where they are tonight. I don’t know how long the dog can survive in that condition. It is very disheartening to know that Chris has the medicine needed to provide the cure and out of stubbornness is withholding it.

This is an example of someone not thinking normally, and while I would not casually use the term mental illness, the behavior is characteristic of someone who suffers from it. I don’t know what it will take to reach Chris to provoke care for this animal. Chris has been on the street for a year, extremely thin, but has not seen before now. So, what plan?

Remember the Michael of last week’s email, who I found on the street and gave him $10 to come in out of rain? He settled down on a cot reading a book on witchcraft. After lights were out he began talking to someone and after repeated and polite requests to go to sleep and be quiet, he got mad and left. His behavior was alarming me a little, so I called the police and asked them to come by. They saw him leaving the building on their approach and had a chance to talk to him. Michael lives on the very east end of town and known to the police. He is a loner, does not like to be around people and is very easily agitated. When he is confronted, he becomes very combative.

I realized I compelled him to come into an environment in which is not comfortable and his subsequent behavior, common for him but a mystery to us, made all of us wary of possibilities.

He is another example of being a person who is homeless and not part of the homeless population. Therefore, needs to be treated as unique and as an individual.

The lesson for me is that I need to see them as individuals and not as a group of people with similarities other than they don’t have a home.  When I do that better, I can help him or her much better and they may get ready to live the life God designed for them.  I’m sure we can all agree that no one is ever sentenced to a life on the streets. The right resources are there. We just need to make the connection.

The clinicians and social workers and administrative staff at Ventura County Health Care Agency are so amazing. They are “The Connection” and they are here in town every Friday doing just that at El Buen Pastor Church, 1029 E. Santa Paula Street.

Shea from Tisa’s Salon was at One Stop last Friday giving haircuts to any and all.  The visiting number was the highest at 22 last week and because many were at the shelter, we were able to shuttle them to One Stop. Now, I think we need a 12-passenger van to shuttle regular. They can’t be helped if transportation is a barrier.

My friends and SPIRIT board members, John and Susan Kulwiec, have taken on the role of grant exploration to see what is out there in the way of funding. Jill Wallerstedt was instrument in completing our Community Development Block Grant application with the County of Ventura.

What I also long for is a storage unit where we could house supplies and household items donated to us.  Largely so I can clear my office but so we know where everything is. Any ideas are welcome.

My Realtor® colleague, Karen Campbell, picked up0 and delivered the most amazing array of mangos, Kiwi, bell peppers and vegetables from Food Forward in Simi Valley today. What a pantry it will be.

Dinner tomorrow is mashed potatoes, shepherd’s pie with carrots from Garman’s Pub, peas, celery, green bell pepper, onions and corn, fresh strawberries, salad rolls and butter.   Last week the rain stopped during Many Meals. We only planned for 300 but ended up making about 100 more meals.

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 http://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

 

April is Fair Housing Month

April 2, 2018

Kay Wilson-Bolton

Realtors will be making the rounds speaking to all city council meetings and the Board of Supervisors to talk about why Fair Housing is so “American.”  We will also be talking about the daily threats of real estate fraud in all aspects of our lives. This includes rentals, deed transfers, loan modifications and equity loans. Real estate professionals have partnered with the District Attorney’s office to prosecute those who steal equity from us.

In honor of the anniversary of the passing of the Fair Housing Act and in remembrance of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, April is set aside as National Fair Housing Month to remind us all that equality is at the heart of the American dream.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the campaign includes efforts to end housing discrimination and raise awareness fair housing rights in communities across the country.

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.

Housing discrimination occurs when an individual or family is treated unequally when trying to buy, rent, lease, sell or finance a home based on certain characteristics.  This type of discrimination can lead to housing, spatial inequality and racial segregation which, in turn, can affect the wealth disparities between certain groups.

In the United States, housing discrimination began after the abolition of slavery as part of a federally sponsored law, but has since been made illegal; however, studies show that housing discrimination still exists.

Federal and State governments have various laws stemming from rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.  Most of us think we know what that means, but there is evidence of unfair housing practices in many areas, from rental application processing, lending practices and discrimination by those who make decisions about where people should or can live.

This matter is very important to Realtors®. Our Code of Ethics provides specific instruction in   Article 10 where “REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation. (Amended 1/11).

Real estate contracts and documents include warnings, admonitions and agreements about fair housing, equal opportunity and fairness. In the typical listing agreement, it simply                                                                                                              states in paragraph, “14. EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY: The Property is offered in compliance with federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws.

In the Real Estate Purchase Agreement, paragraph 27 reads: “27. EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY: The Property is sold in compliance with federal, state and local anti-discrimination Laws.”

Generally speaking, anti-discrimination law refers to the law on the right of people to be treated equally without regard to sex, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and sometimes religious and political opinions.

There are many reasons we should support fair housing practices. It simply is “so American.”

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a member of the Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team (www.refat.org) and a director of the Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors.  There is more information about Fair Housing Month at www.vcrealtors.com.

 

 

When a Homeless Man Finds a Home – Week 478 on March 14, 2018.

SPIRIT of Santa Paula is committed to ending homelessness.

Something great happened this past week to meet that goal. There is a new housing program designed for homeless seniors, at least 62 years old with a documented disability. It was not an easy task to get him approved. The questions now are whether or not he will be able to marry his long-time girlfriend who is only 60 so they can live together. And, will he be able to continue dog-sitting her dog during the day while she works at a part-time job?

The task of finding a homeless person over 62 years old with a documented disability who does not have a criminal background, who doesn’t have substance abuse in his past or present and is sweet and even-tempered is not easy. This effort took eight letters of recommendation, two letters from his doctor and the nod from the Chief of Police.  We are told the unit will be ready at the end of March.

There are several bright sides to this story. One there will be one less homeless person to worry about. One is a lot when you’re the one, right?

Tanya is a female about 46 years old who lives at the river and picks lemons right alongside the men.  Her teeth have become so infected and loose that she can hardly eat.  I’m happy to report that she was fitted for dentures this week and will let me show you her picture before and after.  I just know they are going to be amazing. She is the biggest fan of the Care Pod shower program. When she talks about her hot shower she closes her eyes recalling the uplifting feeling that comes with feeling clean and fresh.

I can’t thank the wonderful people at the Ventura Health Care Agency enough for being a partner is caring for the whole person with a Santa Paula zip code.  Sincere thanks to Woody and Vern for the fabulous piece of equipment and the County  personnel who make their way to the host church, El Buen Pastor, each Friday to meet and greet our homeless visitors.

Then there is Tom from the Drug and Alcohol Division of Whole Person Care who visits the Drop-In Center making friends with those who have had too much to drink or are high. One guest has already asked for help and rehab.  Without Tom checking in on him, it wouldn’t have happened in the same way.

A local angel provided a supply of tarps and ponchos for wet weather use.  Once the homeless get wet, they stay that way until a change of clothes is made available. Many of them get sick and use the emergency room for the primary physician care.  SPIRIT is going to ask the County to commission a study on the cost of health care for the homeless population. I know that the cost of housing is much cheaper.

Food Rescue from the School District is making a big difference on the amount of wasted food being dumped into the landfills. We are able to serve much more commercially prepared food. Whatever you think of global warming, the impact of organic material in the landfill cannot be dismissed.  Here are some interesting links.

An important part of the California Department of Resources Recycling is Organic Materials Management 

Recovery’s mission is to increase the diversion of organic materials away from landfills and toward the production of value-added products such as compost, fertilizers, and biofuels.

Organic waste accounts for more than a third of the material in California’s waste stream. Greenhouse gas emissions caused by the decomposition of organic material in landfills contribute to global climate change. Reducing the amount of organic material sent to landfills is part of the AB 32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) Scoping Plan, is fundamental to ARB’s Short Lived Climate Pollutant strategy, and is one of California’s strategies for reaching the statewide 75 percent recycling goal. Collecting and processing organic materials, particularly food, is also the focus of AB 1826, which mandates such efforts beginning April 1, 2016.

To stay informed on the latest information on organics issues, sign up for email updates by joining a CalRecycle listserv, such as “Organics Materials Management,” “Conversion Technologies,” or “Climate Change.”

Our meal tomorrow is Chicken Enchilada Casserole, hot buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, Orange slices, chips, rice from El Pescador.   When it’s cold, fewer of the river people come top side, but we see them the next day at the Drop-In Center.  We are good with that.

Our Goal:  End Homelessness in Santa Paula  

When you shop Amazon, go to www.smile.amazon.com and specify SPIRIT of Santa Paula as your preferred charity. We are a 501C3 corporation.  EIN 27-0005506.

Donations are welcome at our website and facebook pages.

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

website is http://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

 

 

 

A Homeless Person In a Child’s Eyes – Week 477 on March 7, 2018.

While our goal is to end homeless in Santa Paula, you’ve heard me say many times that Many Meals is much more than a weekly hot meal for some our most vulnerable and least powerful people. It has been about connecting with people who are hungry, facing hardships and are homeless. We believe if we continue to do this work, we will help people through hard times and eliminate homelessness from our community.

We just found an angel who had four bicycles repaired. We have gifted them to certain people with the written agreement the bicycle will not be sold.

We found an angel who has agreed to cover the cost to hire a fundraising organization to help us secure reliable funding for our programs.

Another angel has offered to donate small parcels of land in the Cuyama Valley for us to sell and use for our services.

On particular unintended gift to our community has been the involvement of so many of our youth in this work of serving, loving, caring and respecting people from the most generally neglected and despised segment of any population. Each week, 20 to 30 students join us to prepare and serve food and clean our kitchen. They don’t have to come and only a handful are doing it for community service credits from school programs.

Recently, a parent shared with me the writing of her young teen after her experience at Many Meals. It was to complete a school assignment.

She wrote:

“My task for this week was to take a fork and spoon and wrap it in a napkin, handing it to the guests as they come by for their meal. It told them my family and I would pray for them and that God is with them.

 My service showed God’s love in action in many ways. First, I showed the homeless that there weren’t alone and I cared about them. Second, while I was serving them, I told them about God a little and said that He loved them no matter what they did.

 Third, I did what I think God would want me to do by helping the homeless improve instead of criticizing, making fun of them or just staring at them. I don’t think God wants us to just pity the homeless, but to see that they need help and then actually help them.”

That is enough for tonight. Like I said, Wednesday is more than Many Meals.

Tomorrow’s meal is lots of ham and cheese casserole, romaine lettuce salad with tomatoes, rolls, and orange slices.

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

Our Goal:  End Homelessness in Santa Paula  

website is http://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

 

 

“When Showers Come to Santa Paula” – Week 476 at Many Meals on February 28, 2018

Ninety days ago, I had a tiny vision of what it could be like to offer hot showers to a group of homeless people who could also see a health care professional, receive information on Medi-cal, get help for substance abuse, infections, aches and pain, receive a lunch, clean socks and underwear, a haircut and encouragement.

Last Friday, the vision became an amazing reality as the “Leadership Eagles” in Ventura County and Santa Paula gathered at a humble church location to dedicate the Care Pod and launch the One Stop Program which is part of the Whole Person Care program for the benefit of Santa Paula’s homeless population.

Welcoming almost 100 people in the church parking lot was Pastor Pablo Rovere of the El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church, where the Care Pod is located. Attending the ceremony were Supervisor Kelly Long; Dr. Johnson Gill, Director of the Ventura County Health Care Agency; Mike Powers, Chief Executive Officer of the County of Ventura; Dr. John Schipper, Adult Division Chief Ventura County Behavioral Health, City Manager Michael Rock; Santa Paula Council Members John Procter, Clint Garman, Jenny Crosswhite and Martin Hernandez; Police Chief Steve McLean and Sergeants Walt Harper and Scott Varner; Fire Chief Rick Araiza and SPIRIT of Santa Paula Board Members and volunteers.

Santa Paula was chosen to be the site of the first Care Pod. These units are constructed by the WoodStock Company owned in partnership by retired Fire Chief Vern Alstot and Woody Bouska.  Volunteers John Lopez and Rick Carney from Catalyst Church in Santa Paula open and close the pods each Friday. Jill Wallerstedt, Melinda While and Petey Reyna welcome guests and hand out supplies and gifts. Friends of the El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church help with snacks and provide support and encouragement for the guests including Louise Vega, Nicey Cabral and Laura Hernandez.

You can’t say thanks enough. You just can’t. Remember that the goal is to end homelessness in Santa Paula.

 

On other notes:  Ray is back in town after a 30-day stay recovering in a care facility after an emotional breakdown.  He looks so good and is feeling good about himself. The very bad news is that he was discharged to the streets. This is the first step in a setback. We have to provide transitional housing or  there will not be an end to homelessness. It’s very simple. The STAR had a significant editorial on this topic after the propane heater exploded at River Haven this week killing the occupant of the dome. It shouldn’t happen and it’s tragic.

The Homeless Count will be completed tomorrow and we did a better job of finding more of our people rather than limiting the count to one day at one point in time. Thanks to the volunteers for making that happen.

Food Rescue is alive and well thanks to Public Health Director Robert Levin. Another planning meeting was held this week with many good partners participating like Food Share, Food Forward, Project Understanding, and various County agencies.  CalRecyle awarded a $750,000 grant to help stop putting organic material in landfills and reduce greenhouse gases.  This link provides a very educational instruction on the topic: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/climate/organics/

Finally, the best news ever came today when one of our homeless men over 62 with a documented disability was awarded a housing voucher where he can live out his days in clean and safe housing. It is part of the Pathways to Home Project. Six units in Santa Paula have been designated for this category. They are the new units on 12th Street.

Tomorrow’s menu will be our famous ham and baked beans, rice from El Pescador, green salad with tomatoes, veggies including carrots from Garman’s Pub, warm tortillas  and orange slices. Thanks to Tom and Hank for helping out at Food Share today.

As always, Wednesdays are more than Many Meals. There are many people to minister to and serve.

Next Week “A Homeless Person in a Child’s eye

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of SPIRIT of Santa Paula.  She can be reached at 05.340.5025.   website is http://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