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.”