Loving Those Rascals and Knuckleheads -Week 474 – February 14, 2018 – Valentine’s Day

“The test of love is in how one relates not to saints and scholars but to rascals.” — Abraham Joshua Heschel

I don’t know the author of that statement, but I would like to know what prompted him to write that. We will be passing out Valentines tomorrow to our guests at Many Meals in honor of the day.

I understand what it must be like for missionaries who come back to the US after serving in third world countries. They return to their former homes with new perspectives on first world problems. They have to adjust to the myriad levels of conversation of the day, the influences of advertising and commerce, the abundance of every conceivable commodity and the waste that goes with prosperity.

I feel that way often when I attend a banquet, a community meeting or celebration after spending a day with people on the margins of life, who expect a lot and give nothing. Others expect nothing and believe the life they live is as good as it can get.

Of late, I am jolted in the morning hours at the Drop-in Center by the pungent smell of wood-burning smoke in the clothes of those who have slept under the 12th street bridge where they build fires to keep warm. It’s not the pleasant smell of a campfire or that of oak wood in the fireplace. It’s sharp and penetrating. They promise every day to be at the new One-Stop on Friday, provided by the Ventura County Health Care Agency, where they can see a nurse, take a hot shower in the Care Pod, get clean clothes and visit with various health and social service professionals. Soon they will be able to get a haircut, thanks to Shea who works at Tisa’s Salon here in Santa Paula.

Daily life like this is damaging. It soon becomes their normal and out of sadness and depression comes the influence of drugs and alcohol. What comes first is different for each one. For some, it was the military first, then the alcohol. Others it was job loss first and others it was broken families. For some it was drug and alcohol use which turned into a sour and reckless life.

Whatever the story, Someone has to love them into wholeness. It’s hard because some want what they can get from us. Others often beg for help but want me to do the hard work of sobriety. They are the only ones who can do that part.

Ruth Sullivan called me this weekend begging me to help her find a place to live. She is 76 years old and has an income of $1200 per month. She is living in Oxnard and renting a room from a family who is being evicted. I have stressed over finding her a place. Today Connie De La Rosa, from Catholic Social Charities, called to state she has a room for rent in Oxnard and wanted to know if I knew anyone. Isn’t that great? They are meeting up tomorrow. One more off the list, but it’s a long one.

The threat of rain is hard on food rescue. Not sure to make the trip and risk drenching or wait it out. I long for an enclosed refrigerated van if anyone happens to have an extra one. 

Food Share’s Pam Castro called today with dozens and dozens of five gallon containers of ice cream. Hard to turn that down but we have no place to put it or distribute it.  One would be okay but not 100. Imagine someone over-making that much ice cream.

Fundraising – Susan Kulwiec has taken on the taken of helping me write grants for our work. There are so many out there but we have a very specialized service and population. You can help if you will designate SPIRIT of Santa Paula when you shop on Amazon. However, you have to enter through http://www.smileamazon.com.

Homeless Seniors: We are close to getting approved for one homeless senior, over 62 with a documented disability being approved for a special Section 8 housing voucher.  Background checks are not their friend. It’s hard for someone with those three attributes to have lived an impeccable life. Many people have written letters of support. We will know for sure this week. If you pray about things like that, please do.

The Count of Homeless Persons 2018 event sign-up page is 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. Training will on Saturday, February 18, 2018 at 9 am. You can volunteer at:

http://www.volunteerventuracounty.org/aem/general/event/?doc_id=4649

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. Tell someone.

Tomorrow’s menu is beef and cheese casserole, rolls, buttered cooked carrots, romaine lettuce salad and tomatoes with orange wedges. It’s hearty and delicious.

Tune in next week for “Dying in the Streets With Your Rights On.” Redefining “gravely disabled homeless.”

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.

“Serving the least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in our Community.”

 

I want them to love me – Week 473 at Many Meals on February 7, 2018

After these nearly 10 years of living with and learning from those who have made their way in life in some fashion of homelessness, I think I know most of them pretty well. Once in a while they surprise when we come at odds with each other. My stories are true, but details are re-characterized so I am not breaching confidences and protecting the innocent–and the guilty.

This week it came in odd ways. I confronted one who was gossiping about me to his colleagues about something that was so manufactured it had to be addressed. I did so privately and very directly. I wasn’t mad. I was asking a question about what he said. He got so mad that he said he was never coming back to the Drop In Center and he would just do his “own thing.” That was a week ago.

He called to today to state he would pay me on the 10th the $70 he borrowed for his car registration. He also asked me for someone’s phone number. Guess he’s not mad after all, and I made sure he knew I was happy to hear from him. His life is messed up and one day, I pray it won’t be. He didn’t get this way overnight either.

Another person served a few days in jail for a warrant. When she was taken in, she asked me to keep her bicycle for her. A few hours later her roommate came to retrieve it. This is someone she lives with and has known for many years–also known well to us.

We handed the bicycle over without a thought, but the roommate sold it. Of course, the owner is furious and not sure who to be mad it but it started with me for giving away the bicycle. This is a little complicated, right? We are trying to get the bicycle back but meanwhile I have the cold shoulder from a few.

There is always tension around 5 pm when they come to the drop-in center and want dinner. Clearly it will be a long night if their last meal was at 10 am. Thanks to Food Rescue program, we generally have fresh food of some kind, like sandwiches, fresh fruit, packaged hamburgers or burritos. We try to accommodate but can’t always meet the need due to our own work schedules.

A program we have to put in place is providing porta potties in the downtown area so the homeless population has a place to go to the bathroom. Everyone’s hates pee and poop in the wrong places. As long as we are dealing with the challenges of having homeless people in our midst, we have to do what we can to make a bad situation less bad until they are homeless no more. Chief McLean and I have identified four spots where porta-potties can be placed along with a trash bin. It would cost about $1300 per month to provide the units and service them weekly. It’s a program that needs a little money.

To entice more of our homeless population to take advantage of the healthcare services and showers on Friday from 10-12:30 at El Buen Pastor Church (1029 E. Santa Paula Street), we are working with a local hairdresser to give free haircuts… after their shower. That would put a bow around the “Whole Person Care” program of the Ventura County Healthcare Agency.

The Homeless County is set for Thursday, February 22 from 6 am to 2. We can also count at our various events not held on that day. Unfortunately, that helps us get a higher count but we want it to be accurate. Funding from Federal programs are based on our numbers. If you would like to volunteer, let me know. We will have a training program on Friday, February 16 at 9 am at 113 N. Mill Street. We are counting electronically this year! Bring you IPads and Smart Phones.

Food Share had 120 lbs of cooked ham today and we just happen to have 100 dozen eggs, so we will serve the fabulous quiche recipe again with fresh tomatoes, onions, celery, cheddar cheese, milk and salsa seasoning; complimented by fresh cooked carrots, romaine lettuce salad, orange slices, rolls and butter. This meal gets lots of thank you’s.  Hats off to the cooks who make it all happen.

We have a number of people working off traffic fines by volunteering at Many Meals. It’s a major bonus for them because they get to meet some of the world’s best people and serve some of the best guests.

Thank you to all who participate and encourage us. Someday, I hope to report that homelessness in Santa Paula is no more​ and I could look back and believe they all loved us in some way.​

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of the SPIRIT of Santa Paula who advocates for the least powerful and most vulnerable people in Santa Paula. www.spiritofsantapaula.org  805.340.5025

 

 

 

 

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: http://www.volunteerventuracounty.org/aem/general/event/?doc_id=4649

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 www.smile.amazon.com. 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?

 

 

​“When a homeless person dies” – Lessons learned from Many Meals, Week 471 on January 24, 2018

The death of a homeless person is a different kind of story than the death of someone with next of kin to claim the body and bring it to an appropriate conclusion. There are some cases where a family member steps up to that task and reimburses the County for services given, such as cremation. In other cases, they go unclaimed and are cremated, generally buried together in a common grave.

On Saturday, January 27, 2018, people will gather in Plaza Park in Downtown Ventura to honor 55 homeless people who died in Ventura alone during 2017.  It is the 12th Annual Memorial for reflection, inspiration music and refreshments.  The Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura has taken the lead in this worthy endeavor. For more information, call 818.281.6249, or http://www.liftupyourvoice.org.

There were five deaths of homeless people that I know of in Santa Paula in 2017.  It’s not a good ending for them, and it’s not the way to end homelessness. These people died from untreated illnesses and undiagnosed ailments. Some due to violence and another due to improper living conditions after hospital discharge. Homeless friends always want to gather and have someone say something.  They will always find something good to say. Always.

In a different circumstance, and equally sad, is when a homeless person hears of the death of a family member while in jail or sometime after the event. When they are in jail, the Chaplain will make notification after they have confirmed the death with the Medical Examiner.

In one case this week, I saw the depths of grief the likes of which are hard to imagine or describe. To protect my friend, I will say “Chris” which could be male or female and refer to Chris as “they/them”.

Chris has been on the streets of Santa Paula for many years, more than 10. Chris called me on Sunday to take them to the ER for an eye injury. I knew that Chris’ mother had died in a local rest home and the funeral was the next day. Chris knew they had to be at the service but they were sick, injured, and filthy and it would be hard to get cleaned up and sober for the memorial.

I called a family member to let them know Chris was at the hospital and they said they would pick them up and take them home. It would be better to start the preparation process the night before. The next day at the service Chris was not there and nowhere to be found. Chris came to the drop-in center crying, mad and lamenting the missed funeral. In doing so, Chris was punching their face and lying on the table.  There are years of guilt from stealing, lying and making messes layered on that table and no way to say “I’m sorry”.

Today, the Fire Department was called to Chris’ location but Chris would not agree to be transported to the hospital. Captain Arana called me and said Chris wanted me to take responsibility for that. By the time I arrived, Chris had disappeared. Even now, Chris is not at the usual places. I fear what I will find one day soon.

Prolonged substance abuse harms the body, the brain and the soul. We see it on our streets every day. Los Angeles has 58,000 homeless people. That equates to more people than the combined communities of Santa Paula, Fillmore and Piru.  Impossible to imagine managing that problem.  Like I’ve said before, when they are ready to live the life God designed for them, we will be here with all resources, support and good will.

Next week:  “When the neighborhood gets cranky”.

Mental Health Moment:  Each week, Dr. Jason Miller, a Psychologist at the Behavior Health Clinic here in Santa Paula, gives us tips on how to deal with problems facing our homeless population and ways to handle difficult encounters with others. He talked about what to do when someone is having a seizure. Several of our homeless people are subject to that.  The best thing to do is to try and break the fall so they don’t hit their head on a hard object. Turn them on the side, speaking words of comfort, like, “Help is on the way, I will stay with you, you will be okay.” Try to clean their airway if they are choking. They may often vomit, and it is important your face is away from them. Don’t put you hand in their mouth and put something between their teeth like a soft wallet. Not a pencil or your finger for sure. The seizure could last for ten minutes or more. Have someone call 911 and let the first responders take over when they arrive.

Food Rescue:  We learned that Ventura County has made the final cut for a grant to pursue “Waste Free Ventura County” saving food from the landfills. More on that in a few days.

Shower hours are being changed from 10 am to 1 pm on Friday so the mobile clinic stationed at the hospital can meet with the homeless who take advantage of a weekly, hot shower, clean towels, hygiene items, new underwear and socks. Jill Wallerstedt, John Flores, Melinda White and a helper are managing that event. County staff is amazing.

Next time you buy some, will you buy an extra pair or two for us. While only please. They need to know when it’s time to wash them.

If you are interested in donating to a fund for money to wash clothes, let me know. SPIRIT of Santa Paula, Post Office Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728. When you buy from Amazon, please go to www.smileamazon.com and select SPIRIT of Santa Paula as your charity of choice to receive a percentage of all your spending.

Thank you notes are going out this week to those who have supported the work on behalf of our neighbors in the margins.

Menu tomorrow is pulled-pork casserole with taco flavored humus sauce, fresh buttered cooked carrots from Garman’s Pub, rice from El Pescador, romaine salad with fresh tomatoes, orange slices, rolls and butter. We have five trays of pork not served at the school district cafeterias. Such a money saver and wise use of excellent food and protein.

Kay Wilson-Bolton, Volunteer Director

SPIRIT of Santa Paula

a 501C3 Corporation founded in 2002
Serving the Least Powerful and Most Vulnerable in our Community
805.340.5025

 

Unique, Up Close and Personal

Date:               February 12, 1998

Published in the Ventura County Star – Thank you Myrtle

 

There is hardly a business like real estate. The nuances and subtleties are complex and profound.  Realtors are rather independent people who operate their own businesses within the business of the broker, or completely on their own if they are one. For members of the public who have not purchased or sold a property for a few years, the shock of new paperwork and legal requirements for a valid real estate transaction is real.

Realtors and real estate agents are constantly reminded of their duties to clients and customers. One of the greatest challenges is to stay current with changing requirements of the California Civil Code and the Business and Professions Code.

Fortunately, the business is still very up close and personal with clients and other Realtors. We are usually the first line of defense when problems arise during and after the close of escrow.  We are also sometimes the last to know when there is a problem.

One of the most unique features of a Realtors business is to share their inventory with competitors through the Multiple Listing Service.  While websites, high performance computer programs and flash forms come and go, the constant factor is the personal relationships between clients and Realtors and their competitors.

The line is usually drawn, however, when it comes to Realtors having to share clients.  This element of our business can be most hurtful and distressing. It is often unintentional. It occurs when buyers engage the services of more than one Realtor at a time.

New relationships can begin with a simple phone call.  Realtors shine here because the caller is considered to be a new client and the red carpet is rolled out. Typically, appointments are made to show property; time, gasoline and materials are provided, conferences with lenders are held, and educational information is shared—all at no charge.

Sharing clients occur when the public decides to make another phone call in response to an ad—to a different Realtor.  No mention is made of previous activity in the market or the efforts made by their previous Realtor.  The new Realtor benefits from the efforts of the other—an unfair advantage often innocently provided by the public.

Once the situation is revealed, the results are distressing for all parties.  To this point in time, neither Realtor has been compensated for their time and talents. It is not uncommon for a client to feel embarrassed or irritated and to move to a third agent.

Most Realtors will admit that our way of doing business needs to be overhauled. We also will admit that not all relationships are productive and that a client may simply choose one Realtor over another.

One solution and trend is to utilize a buyer’s broker agreement.  It is a contract between buyers and Realtors and guarantees compensation for time, talent and materials.  An interesting benefit is that Realtors might have to limit the number of clients due to requirements under the contract and that the public might receive enhanced services.

Another solution would be for Realtors to be retained by clients at an hourly rate, as are other professionals.  This would solve the problem of client loyalty and would level the playing field for all Realtors.

Until such a time, the public can make a nice difference if they would utilize the services of one Realtor at a time.  A few helpful hints are to let your Realtor of Choice obtain information on any property where you see a sign. If you are visiting an open house, let the host Realtor know that you are working with another.  Let your Realtor call around for information on properties you see rather than taking the time of Realtors you do not intend to engage.

All a Realtor has to offer is time and talent. We are used to being compensated when everyone wins.  We simply ask that you find a winner and stick with him or her until you do too.

Editorial: January 23, 2018. Editor’s Note – Nothing has changed.

 

​“Just as we remember her” – Week 470 at Many Meals January 17, 2018

I prepared you for Carol to pass away and she did last Friday around midnight. It was expected but still bitter in many ways. She didn’t have to die at the age of 49.  If only she had taken care of herself and allowed the system to operate. She was very fortunate to have received significant attention from people who know how to make things happen. But, if you don’t know what addiction feels like and how it controls your brain and motivates your behavior, you can’t know how hard it is to do the work of sobriety.

Her girls are very smart, talented and educated. They live their lives in the sunlight and have brought pride to our community and​  to the woman who raised them and to their mother. They organized a memorial for her at the Park on Sunday afternoon. It was the perfect setting but I felt like I was in the wrong place.

They chose a picture of Carol at the age of about 20 years old. She very beautiful, still innocent and unscathed by the ravages that would come.  They spoke sweet words about her life and challenges and struggles. Some of her friends spoke about her as though she lived a charmed life. Some came to the service who had stolen from her, sold her drugs and shut the door when she needed lodging, food and clothes.

I thought I was at the wrong service and felt the deepest pain. I realized the picture on her memorial folder and the sweet words spoken by daughters were of memories of the mother they want to remember. I will give them that. I left quietly with no words to speak until now.

Latino Town Hall and LULAC are working hard together to provide for the 11 families who were displaced at Limoneira Ranch. Thanks to Tresierras Supermarket, we received a generous year end gift and we shared it with Latino Town Hall, trustworthy colleagues who are doing such good work. Thank you to Art Tresierras for the vision and the gift.

The wonderful Jill Wallerstedt helped me complete a grant for a share of the Community Development Block Grant Funds being given to the County to benefit the homeless population. One of our grant requests is to fund the placement of four porta potties and trash bins in strategic locations to help with the obvious. Some would say the City of Santa Paula should do this, but I say “someone” should do it. We’ll see if we get funding.

The date that works for all for the formal launch event for the Care Pod in Santa Paula is Friday February 23 at 10:30 a.m.  I invite all of you to witness this innovate and very important piece of the Whole Person Care Program. I want you to meet the wonderful professionals who bring this to our community in our efforts to end, (that is END) homelessness in Santa Paula.

Our meal tomorrow is Shepherd’s Pie with mashed potatoes and gravy, marinated cucumbers, cooked butter carrots (thank you Garman’s Pub), rolls and butter and fresh tangerines. This is often the most nutritious meal of the week for many.

Thank you to all who help us with our work. We have a goal and a mission behind all of it. The motivation is to “love our neighbor.” They may not live next door, but they are in the neighborhood.

Kay Wilson-Bolton, Volunteer Director

SPIRIT of Santa Paula

a 501C3 Corporation founded in 2002
Serving the Least Powerful and Most Vulnerable in our Community
805.340.5025

VA Buyers Unfairly Lose Traction in the Marketplace

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

January 15, 2018

At the heart of every real estate transaction is a good appraisal no matter what type of financing is used to purchase the home.

In general, all homes must have Minimum Property Requirements which include a sound roof with generally five years of life left. The heating system has to be functioning without asbestos floating in the air.  Plumbing and electrical system have to be in good working order, there has to be a kitchen and bathroom, reliable sewage system, hot water heater, safe and potable drinking water.

Homes on raised foundations have to have a stable foundation and adequate crawl space for ventilation. Homes have to have private driveways or permanent and reliable access to the property from the street.  The property has to be free of any conditions which could negatively affect the health and safety of the occupants.

The home has to be free of poor or defective construction or degradation. For example, fireplaces should have dampers that work and spark arresters. House should be free of termite conditions, dryrot or fungus. Homes built before 1978 could have lead-based paint and no home can have peeling or deteriorating paint.

Sounds like normal and routine expectations, right?

Few people are willing to buy a home with these adverse conditions unless they are paying cash and receiving a price concession.

Appraisers are required to identify deficiencies and note them for the sake of the lender and the buyer who then has the right to ask the seller for corrections or walk away from the property. When termite corrective work is identified, buyers and sellers can sometimes agree on how to remedy the work by deleting it from the transaction or negotiating the cost of repairs prior to close of escrow.

With only one exception, VA loans are no different.  The house has to be made free and clear of any termite infestation, dryrot or fungus.

The marketplace has the wrong idea about VA loans and as a result, the offers from many Veterans are excluded from consideration.

John and his wife just made their eighth offer since April of 2017. They have seen themselves living in eight different homes and have made offers on all of them. They are VA buyers with a significant down payment getting started in the home buying process after the kids have left home. They have excellent credit and want to be homeowners while they are still working.

While VA will not let the VA buyer pay for a termite report, the buyer can pay for work to be done prior to close of escrow.  A free and clear report is required in all VA transactions prior to closing. Thanks to wise homeowners who obtain termite reports before the home goes on the market, all buyers can know what they are facing early in the process.

VA loans were designed to help Veterans buy homes. They can purchase a home with nothing down in a loan amount up to $672,750 in Ventura County. Sadly, when the market heats up, the age-old fears and impressions about VA loans squeeze VA buyers out of the market as sellers opt for buyers using “conventional financing.”

Some of those fears are lengthy escrows, intense government restrictions and influences. In my recent experiences, appraisals are completed in 10 days; and smart loan officers can get a VA loan through in 35 to 45 days.

Sellers will often exclude FHA loans from consideration for fear of the need to make unplanned repairs to the home. If a home is substandard in any way, the items will be identified as negative issues and repairs will be required prior to close of escrow no matter what time of loan is utilized.

Sadly, loans which are not VA and FHA are called “conventional” and any loan that is not “conventional” is considered “unconventional”. It, therefore, sets up a seller to wrong thinking.

I encourage sellers to research the VA loan of today and give thought to considering an offer from a buyer who has served this Country in the military. It’s good for nation and it’s the right thing to do for Veterans.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a Certified Military Relocation Professional and has been serving Ventura county homeowners since 1976. She is a broker associate with Century 21 Troop Real Estate and can be reached at 805.340.5025 or kay@realestatemagic.com

The End of the Road for Some – Week 469, January 10, 2018

I am very sad tonight. While a number of our unsheltered friends are very sick, I visited one today in ICU. She doesn’t have long to live and I was told family needed to come “now.” Thanks to Facebook and Messenger, I found them and sent the alarm.

She has two daughters, both educated. One has high credentials in academia but not able to save or even influence her mother’s habit of 30 years in drugs and on the streets.

She wanted a drink of water but none could be administered. She was told today she doesn’t have long to live and told me she is scared. We’ve had this discussion numerous times. She cried and lamented the years of bad choices that caused irreparable damage. I have followed her for 10 years, the ups and downs, the steps forward and back.

As I looked her, feeling waves of irritation mixed with compassion, sorrow and misery, I wondered what else we could have done. This I know. If housing of any kind had been made available, there would have been an opportunity for managed care which includes safe sleep, healthy food, yes, clean needles as she worked her way to clean and sober living.

In the end, she will die from a combination of cirrhosis of the liver, Hepatitis C and HIV, ulcerated limbs among other things, having likely contaminated many people along the way.

One day, two years ago, a very important person in the health care system for Ventura County moved a mountain and got her into the temporary system of managed care–just because I asked him to. In the end, against all hope, it wasn’t enough because it was temporary and that is because that is all there is.

When this is over, I will request a review of the cost of her health care within the system of the Emergency Room to help determine once and for all that the cost of one person like her can cost taxpayers a million dollars a year. It’s been proven true by many other homeless individuals.

The cost of a one bedroom apartment plus utilities would be about $15,000. Health care professionals by the dozens are attending her now, so even that cost would be reduced. The entire community would benefit from having a healthier individual not using city streets as a toilet and exposing other homeless people to this array of life threatening illnesses.

I will cry when she is gone. Her fight will be over but not mine. There are many who will fight on until one day there is enough political will within the healthcare system and community leaders to provide housing opportunities and managed care for those in the homeless population who want to live normal lives. Will some resist this opportunity? Yes, and that is because they aren’t ready to release the very demon that is killing them. Complex, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, we stay ready so that when they are, someone will answer.

Many Meals provides a weekly hot meal and food pantry and is a part of the Whole Person Care Program under the Ventura County Health Care Agency, led by Dr. Johnson Gill and attended by an amazing battalion of dedicated health care professionals. They are supported by a contingent of amazing mental health counselors and advocates led by Dr. John Schipper and assisted by the Behavioral Health Advisory Board, led by Elaine Crandall and Patrick Zarate. The weekly shower program is providing one more component of Whole Person Care. The connections made at the Richard’s Drop-In Center keeps the dots aligned as we bring services and caring people into the mix through the week, including Church in the Park on Sundays.

To conclude, tomorrow’s heartwarming and healthy meal is whole wheat spaghetti with homemade (mostly) spaghetti and generous amount of meat sauce, (thanks to the food rescue team to the Santa Paula School District) tangerines (thanks to our partners at Food Forward), hot buttered carrots thanks to Garman’s Pub, chips, cole slaw with raisins and pineapple thanks to Food Share.

The Thomas Fire, the flue and street culture – Week 468 at Many Meals on January 3, 2018

It’s worthy to note this week begins our tenth year of serving our homeless population in Santa Paula.

There is no question the compromised air quality for so many days has exacerbated the opportunities for the flue and serious colds to invade the homeless population. The Drop In Center today was a good place for quarantine, but we carried on.

Several of them are starting to come back to the office around closing time asking if they can stay in the store room. I can’t start that. Cold temperatures are on us and the warm days cause them to lay down the blankets they got from us the day before. One of our regulars wants us to call 911 almost every day so she can get a warm night’s sleep at the ER. She insists of one test after another. It’s not working.

Almost everyone is coughing, choking and all that goes with the cold season–including all the volunteers. I learned something today.

We received a generous amount of generic pain relievers and cold medicine from our grocery store pickups. It is tempting to share them with those are congested and feverish, and I know I’m not a physician.

A number of our known addicts will sell them to other addicts as some kind of new street drug. If we decide Ibuprofen is in order, it will be two at a time and they can take them in front of me.

We completed our second week of Care Pod Showers. A total of ten were served this week. I’m hoping more will come on Friday and take advantage of a visit with the nurse from Ventura County Health Care Agency and Las Islas Mobile Clinic.  It’s the most wonderful program.

But, it does solve the problem of homelessness. Only housing will solve that. This takes educated leadership and political will.  Don’t see it yet.

I also learned that selling food stamp cards is common. All they have to do is set  a price, share the PIN number and they have cash for drugs. I need advice on this one if anyone has any.

Due to my own cold for days, this will be a short missal.

Menu tomorrow is barbecue beans with plenty of bacon, lettuce salad with fresh tomatoes, rice from El Pescador, cooked carrots from Garman’s Pub, rolls and butter and beautiful navel orange slices.

Thank you to all of you. Happy New Year sounds so trite, but I long for more peace and kinder words among us, more patience and a greater willingness to listen.​