The Emergency Shelter and This Rain – Week 423 on February 23, 2017

It was a busy interim from last week’s Many Meals. On Friday, the City decided to play it safe for our homeless population and open an emergency shelter for two  nights. Red Cross donated 25 cots and several of us mobilized to get food, blankets, dry clothes and supplies into the Cultural Arts Building at the Community Center.  Great helpers were Pastor Adelle Garza, Lynn Dowling, Howard Stephen, Councilmember Martin Hernandez and his wife, Holly.

The Police Officers Association provided dinner one night and the Fire Department Association provided breakfast on Saturday.

Three of us spent the night keeping vigil while many of them slept soundly from 6 pm to 7 am. There is nothing like safe sleep for those who sleep with one eye open on the street.  Police Chief McLean and his wife came to visit us on Saturday night. Officers checked in every few hours. We waved them on to more pressing needs.

The Lions Club held their annual free eye glasses event at the Church of Christ down the street. Most of our people made it over there. Katina is a woman who has been on the street for many years. She proudly showed her glasses not realizing she even needed them. Her parting comment on Sunday morning was, “I see so good, I can see the future.”

That comment gave me pause. I wish she could see it as well as I do. She has three children who don’t really know her. I thought of Jesus speaking of how the road to destruction is wide but the good way is narrow and few find it.  Katina is on a path too many people travel. I won’t give up hope she finds the narrow way.

One new person who found us is Jason Moses. He is homeless and works the night shift at a local business. He didn’t come in until 11 pm after work. He was so happy to find us that he worked his way into a local church on Sunday and offered to help at Many Meals tomorrow.  Don’t know his story but he is one polite and helpful man.

The lay sisters from St. Barbara Monastery continue to be a big support and help. Jill is looking into grants and fundraising opportunities to keep us in business.

Our menu tomorrow will be ham, veggie and cheese pasta, cooked carrots from Garman’s Pub, Romaine lettuce salad, rolls, butter and orange slices. My cooks are so amazing.

Have a good, safe sleep everyone.

 

 

 

Taking care of business before we die. Jesse is gone. Many Meals Week 422 on February 15, 2017

Church in the Park began as an outreach to those who are more comfortable standing outside of a building and looking in. As time has gone on, more and more people have discovered the beauty of Church Outside. As a result, many are finding purpose again and wholeness. One such man is Jesse. He has been a regular at Many Meals and the Drop In Center. On January 8 he was baptized.

Today he died from a massive stroke.

I’m sad he didn’t get more happy days on earth, but so happy he has discovered the eternity God has put in our hearts. We don’t know what day is ours.
When members of my homeless family come into the drop in center, they long to take a bath in the bathroom sink. My desk sits not far from the restroom and I can hear the water run, and run, and run. One particular man likes to push the limit on the hot water usage.

After what seemed like a very long time, I knocked on the door. Okay, I pounded on the door. It scared him and he came charging out the door at me. I’ve been cussed out before but not like that. He put his shirt half on and stormed out the building.

I so wish I hadn’t done that. He may never come back. He was enjoying the warm water and soap and I really ruined it. I hate it when I don’t act like Jesus. I could have done so much better. Pray for Mr. Zepeda to forgive me, and pray I do better. That’s not how to show fragile people you love them… and I really do love them.

Tomorrow’s menu will be Chili Beans and Sausage, rice from El Pescador, cooked buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, rolls and butter, orange slices and romaine salad with raisins and pecans.

Pastor Jim will be back in the Drop In Center next week to greet one on one after Bible Study. I did something this week that I can’t fix and shouldn’t have done.
See you wonderful cooks tomorrow.

The Many Meals Story – Santa Paula CA
SPIRIT of Santa Paula
Kay Wilson-Bolton, Director
805.340.5025
http://www.spiritofsantapaula.org
Serving the Least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in Santa Paula CA

A View From the Streets – 600 Meals are Many Meals in Santa Paula – Week 420 on February 8, 2017

We meet so many interesting people on Wednesday. No matter what, familiarity can also breed compassion, affection and understanding.

Last week, we came face to face with, “Shoelaces and Shepherd’s Pie. The Dilemma and the Doctrine of Survival.”

The word was out. A great menu was at Many Meals on Wednesday, so some of the river people came up. I asked Carlos what happened to his shoes. He said someone stole his shoelaces. I assured him I had shoelaces at the office and he could have them the next day. A few minutes later, I noticed his was lacing up his shoes with white laces. I asked where he got them. He hesitated and admitted that he had taken them from a pair of white tennis shoes on the Treasure Table that someone donated.

So, I asked him, “Now what do you think someone who wants those shoes is going to do for laces?” Without a thought, he said, “The same thing I did.” So goes street logic. However, deep down, I believe he knows.

I have learned everything we do and say to them (as with everyone) has an impact—for good and for bad on any future relationship. Without relationship, they may never come “home”. If I am harsh because they make a mess, they stay away (until they are hungry.) If they borrow money and don’t want to pay it back, they stay away (until they are hungry.)  If I ask them to help with various tasks while they are around anyway, they grumble about me to others – and they stay away (until they are hungry).

Food is the key to building relationships with those struggling to get through life. We are so blessed having Food Share as our partner, so blessed to have so many volunteers throughout the week, so blessed to have such great cooks who have made Wednesdays from noon to 3:30 a commitment to excellence in the preparation of a meal they know nothing about until noon. It is then they are presented a recipe and some ingredients. They have become the handiest “machine” in the kitchen.

What happens on Wednesdays at  dinner time is a miracle. It’s about relationship building where many encouraging words are passed along, and needy folks are connected with resources. They find some hope simply by feeling better after a delicious and generous meal and take home a generous amount of fresh fruit and pantry items.

Today at Food Share, we found twelve, 10-lb cooked hams, sweet potatoes, mandarin oranges, fresh grapes, romaine lettuce and perfectly ripened bananas.

From our USDA food Distribution on Saturday, we kept out about 25 lbs of really hearty chicken legs. I cooked up about 40 pieces at home tonight with barbecue sauce and spices to serve at the drop-in center tomorrow. We also found six giant cheese pizzas that will make like a banquet. Good fellowship is taking place there as well. We will be glad when Pastor Jim can come back to Bible Study on Fridays to meet the new folks and take them to their next step towards sobriety.

There is something about getting around the table and enjoying good food—no matter how big the family may be.

Not sure about the menu tomorrow except for ham somehow, sweet potatoes of some kind, mandarin oranges somewhere, rice from El Pescador, cooked carrot from El Pescador, rolls with butter and romaine salad. Sounds balanced to me.

Thanks for taking a minute to read along with me each week.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Many Meals Story – Santa Paula CA

SPIRIT of Santa Paula

Kay Wilson-Bolton, Director

805.340.5025

www.spiritofsantapaula.org

Serving the Least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in Santa Paula CA

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Many Meals Story – Santa Paula CA

 

SPIRIT of Santa Paula

Kay Wilson-Bolton, Director

805.340.5025

www.spiritofsantapaula.org

Serving the Least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in Santa Paula CA

 

The Homeless Count and entering Year Number Nine – Week 419 on January 25, 2017

Today was the homeless count in Ventura County. This year the count will be on more than one day if there are food pantries and congregate meal programs. Accuracy is important in this work because Federal funds come to the County for services—however, they fail to find their way into Santa Paula. But that’s another matter.

Three wonderful people assisted this morning. All returned safe and sound from their search admitting the task was enjoyable and revealing. One man from Ventura took his time strolling from the park by the post office, down Main Street to Ebell Park. He spotted a number of homeless and spent some time with each one. Doesn’t get better than that.

At the Welcome Center this morning, we had 19 homeless people sign-in, or so I thought. One of other questions on the survey is “Where did you sleep last  night.” When I asked Harvey  that question, he said, “What do you mean?” I said, “You are homeless right?”  He said, “No way. I get lonesome and I like coming here.” Nothing like a blessing of unintended consequences.

Our regular Welcome Center hostess is Marie and she was ordered off for two months by her doctor. Due to sporadic showings of various helpers, someone I did not expect to help me with this task stepped up. His name is Howard Stephen. He too was homeless for a time and stayed at our winter shelters back in the day.

I’ve learned that we grow a little every day and some days maybe even die a little. The awareness of growing and maturing does always reveal itself until we look back and see where we were. Howard has brought his skills as a government inspector (organized and by the book),  honed by his own street-wise savvy, to be just the right host at the Welcome Center.

He is viewing “community service” in a very different way and recognizing his need to be of service. He is now modestly housed, but not cold or wet when the weather changes. It’s a joy to watch someone discover the best of themselves when they think they can’t. Particularly when it’s in the name of Someone he has come to love. When you see him, give him an “atta boy” if you would.

The Ventura Downtown Lions had a bash on Saturday and found about 125 quarter-pound Kosher all-beef hot dogs left over. Joey Siddens delivered them to me, along withi the super-sized buns. We will serve those in the dining room next week.  I so appreciate people thinking of us when the leftovers need a home. We also quiz on food safety, just so you know.

I had planned for fish sandwiches for the dining room tomorrow night but discovered that someone has given away 100 Groton halibut breaded cutlets. That is not a good surprise… so for the dining room we will serve some grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with fresh buttered carrots, fresh melon, and pasta salad. For the take-outs, we will serve bean and cheese burritos, carrots, rice and fresh melon.

We have so many teens and younger helping at Many Meals. It’s a safe place to teach service. I continue to learn myself.

Thanks for the  memories, the support and the continued high level of service.

 

 

 

Today was the homeless count in Ventura County. This year the count will be on more than one day if there are food pantries and congregate meal programs. Accuracy is important in this work because Federal funds come to the County for services—however, they fail to find their way into Santa Paula. But that’s another matter.

 

Three wonderful people assisted this morning. All returned safe and sound from their search admitting the task was enjoyable and revealing. One man from Ventura took his time strolling from the park by the post office, down Main Street to Ebell Park. He spotted a number of homeless and spent some time with each one. Doesn’t get better than that.

 

At the Welcome Center this morning, we had 19 homeless people sign-in, or so I thought. One of other questions on the survey is “Where did you sleep last  night.” When I asked Harvey  that question, he said, “What do you mean?” I said, “You are homeless right?”  He said, “No way. I get lonesome and I like coming here.” Nothing like a blessing of unintended consequences.

 

Our regular Welcome Center hostess is Marie and she was ordered off for two months by her doctor. Due to sporadic showings of various helpers, someone I did not expect to help me with this task stepped up. His name is Howard Stephen. He too was homeless for a time and stayed at our winter shelters back in the day.

 

I’ve learned that we grow a little every day and somedays maybe even die a little. The awareness of growing and maturing does always reveal itself until we look back and see where we were. Howard has brought his skills as a government inspector (organized and by the book),  honed by his own street-wise savvy, to be just the right host at the Welcome Center.

 

He is viewing “community service” in a very different way and recognizing his need to be of service. He is now modestly housed, but not cold or wet when the weather changes. It’s a joy to watch someone discover the best of themselves when they think they can’t. Particularly when it’s in the name of Someone he has come to love. When you see him, give him an “atta boy” if you would.

 

The Ventura Downtown Lions had a bash on Saturday and found about 125 quarter-pound Kosher all-beef hot dogs left over. Joey Siddens delivered them to me, along withi the super-sized buns. We will serve those in the dining room next week.  I so appreciate people thinking of us when the leftovers need a home. We also quiz on food safety, just so you know.

 

I had planned for fish sandwiches for the dining room tomorrow night but discovered that someone has given away 100 Groton halibut breaded cutlets. That is not a good surprise… so for the dining room we will serve some grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with fresh buttered carrots, fresh melon, and pasta salad. For the take-outs, we will serve bean and cheese burritos, carrots, rice and fresh melon.

 

We have so many teens and younger helping at Many Meals. It’s a safe place to teach service. I continue to learn myself.

 

Thanks for the  memories, the support and the continued high level of service.

 

 

The Greater Work of Many Meals – Week 418 – January 18, 2017

You’ve heard me say we are more than “many meals”. That has been seen in spades this past week. Two of our good Many Meals helpers have chosen to go into rehab programs.

Lest you think you don’t know someone struggling with an addiction of some kind, you do, and it’s all around us. We never know the impact we make by being faithful with the basics when someone is going to admit it’s their day to get clean and sober. We have to be ready too. Pastor Jim Dexheimer assisted in locating a bed for one and Ted Perez from Mental health helped with the other.

Ted came by the Drop-In Center in the nick of time to open the doors that needed to be opened. The case workers in that field are amazing. Dr. Jason Miller is one of our regular helpers at Many Meals, and he works at Behavioral Health often shepherding people to help at Many Meals who are lonely, fearful and in need of encouragement. One of them called me on the holiday to be sure it was okay for her to come on Wednesday. Ted Perez is a Clinician and is relentless in the search for services when someone is ready.

You heard the account last week of the jacket and the keys. The moral side of that simple story caught the attention of Colleen Cason, a feature writer for the Ventura Star. She recounted it in her own unique and wonderful style in Sunday’s edition. Click on the link below.

It’s Not About the Jacket – It’s About the Keys

The numbers at the Drop-In Center and the Saturday Showers Program are increasing. Our homeless folks need food, so they don’t have to panhandle or steal as much; they need socks and shoes so they are healthier. Now we need them to long for a clean and sober life more than they long for their drug of choice. God is at work with us, and I count on Him to do the heavy lifting. We can’t do it for them but someone has to be there when they are ready.

Howard Stephen, once homeless himself, has stepped up as the host of the Welcome Center serving breakfast to about 12-20 each morning. He never dreamed he would one day serve instead of be served in such a meaningful way. Thank you Howard.

The Homeless Count is next Tuesday. If anyone would like to assist and learn, let me know.

Tomorrow’s menu is a popular one and that is beef hot dogs in buns, sliced fresh melon, rice from El Pescador, hot buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, cole slaw with raisins and some chips.  (Note I said “beef” hot dogs. They were rescued from a grocery store while still fresh—and they are Kosher.

Thank you Food Share and our various grocery stores who share instead of toss.

If you haven’t witness this project, join us at 4:00 to help, or 5:00 to visit.

The Many Meals Story – Santa Paula CA

SPIRIT of Santa Paula

Kay Wilson-Bolton, Director

805.340.5025

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hot Meal in Cold Weather is a Good Thing – Week 416 at Many Meals – January 4, 2017

Happy New Year to all – Next week is our 8th anniversary of Many Meals. What a story and what a gift to our community. This weekly gift is not a solution but it is part of the safety net that has been created in Santa Paula. Facebook didn’t exist then.

One of the great people working in the background all these years is a man named Steve Goch. He has been compiling our weekly statistics and demographic data of those who come to Many Meals.  It amounts to 400 plus faithful weeks of character recognition expertise.  The new PantryTrak system is computerized and Steve’s weekly effort will no longer be needed. I don’t think he minds. Thank you for your commitment and faithfulness, Steve. You are one of the legends of Many Meals. Steve and his wife Kathy started out in the kitchen many years ago—so much so they would bring their own knives. That is a sign of a real cook, you know.

We are starting to hear about the problems people are having with January’s rent and utility payments because too much money was spent on Christmas gifts. I so wish we could change how people view the reason for gifts. One senior citizen needed $200 to get through Christmas (no gifts purchased). She borrowed on her retirement check from the local fast cash place. While she only paid $35 for two weeks… its 319.17% interest.

I begged her to not do that again and let someone know what she needs. Accessing quick cash is a common practice among our lower income residents or those with sudden financial challenges. Once you start, it’s almost impossible to get the company paid back. It’s the art of predatory practices on vulnerable people.

Our drug and alcohol counselor, Jim Dexheimer, is facing additional health challenges with discovery of a new tumor. We miss him a lot but want him to rest and get well. Pray for Jim, if you will.

By the way… a real gift to Many Meals would be a crew of four people who would come at 6 pm and help clean up for one hour. It involves sweeping the patio, wiping down tables, putting chairs back in their place. Sweeping the dining room, washing the floors; cleaning the kitchen, loading the truck with items to return to the pantry; sweeping, wiping down counters, washing dishes and floors, cleaning the restrooms. This is ideal for someone who wants to help but doesn’t have much time. By 7 pm when we are done and the two or three who remain and exhausted. Once the dinners start going together at 4:30, its fast action til its time to quit at 7 pm. Pass the word, would you? One hour… I promise.

We are up to 14 people now at the weekly showers. Iris Perez and her family have learned a lot about the ways of our homeless population and are managing the task well. It’s a nice gift to folks who sleep in their clothes all week.

Notes to self:

  1. Find out why the City’s restrooms are locked “after hours” and
  2. Get people to donate money for tokens at the laundromat. It’s crazy to take a shower and put on the week’s clothes.

Tomorrow’s menu is ham and cheese casserole (lots of ham) with peas and peppers, 3-way salad (all prepared cooks!), fresh cooked and buttered carrots, rolls, sliced oranges and a box of cookies or a nice dessert for each family.

Thank you for making this anniversary possible.

The Many Meals Story – Santa Paula CA

 

SPIRIT of Santa Paula

Kay Wilson-Bolton, Director

805.340.5025

www.spiritofsantapaula.org

 

Serving the Least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in Santa Paula CA

 

 

Nothing New Under the Sun

May 29, 2006

My Look at His Book

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

My mom was a self-educated philosopher—so I thought. She was quick to remind us six kids that, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”  I always wondered how she knew that.

What she meant by that statement was that we couldn’t fool her. She knew about all “that stuff”—after all, there is nothing new under the sun.

That statement was made a long time before my mom made it, and it was King Solomon who said in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

There is some comfort in knowing this, but no comfort when you think that terrible events and cruelty against people have always been as they are today.

It’s hard to imagine that fathers have always thrown their children out of hotel windows, or that mothers tossed their children off the Golden Gate Bridge. But, we know from history that such acts have been a part of the human condition since it began. We have access to so much information these days, it is hard to escape the global tragedies of even far away places.

In the context of King Solomon’s statement, he was reminding the people of Israel that without an eternal perspective, all of life is futile and without purpose. There are days when life seems to be an endless cycle of activity. Those days existed even back in 931 BC when King Solomon received a wise and understanding heart from God in order to rule the nation of Israel after the death of his father, King David.

Solomon was so smart, that the Queen of Sheba traveled a great distance to confer with him, mostly about how the King acquired his wealth—and kept it. Make no mistake; however, the Queen had acquired her own share of wealth along the trade routes.

We know from history that there is nothing new under the sun and that a life lived with purpose is more fun and more memorable than one with aimless expectations.

Mom agreed with King Solomon on that one too.