After you read through tonight’s report on our work, please take a minute to visit our new website: www.spiritofsantapaula.org. Thanks to Council member Jenny Crosswhite and her husband, Daniel Sandoval, for the sparkling new look. They are in the business of computer graphics and web design.
In the event you missed 60 Minutes Sunday night and the episode about grandparents raising grandchildren, it is worth a watch. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Due to Drug Abuse
This scene plays out regularly at Many Meals at the Drop-In Center when parents call me to ask if we have seen their adult children this week.
I received two such pleas today, one in the form of a text message: (not the daughter’s real name).
“Hi Miss Kay – This is Shannon’s mom. Just wondering how she’s doing and maybe tomorrow or something she can give me a call. I was just making sure everything’s okay with her, and I want to thank you for always helping her anytime. I’ve always told her when she’s done and had enough of the streets I would openly welcome her and help her but I’ve tried that many many times before and I just have to wait till God makes her ready but thank you.”
Shannon has children who live with the father’s parents. She hasn’t seen them in many months even though they are in Santa Paula.
Thanks to our partners in the Whole Person Care and the entire Ventura County Healthcare and Behavioral Health agencies, we have learned the ropes for resources available to people with mental health challenges caused either by disorders or prolonged substance abuse. A friend brought me a great article today on a judge in Los Angeles who has established a jogging/running program for homeless people who want to get healthy. Wonderful program but it is a down-the-road result of gathering people who want to change their lives. Until they are ready, there is no motivation to walk to get help, let alone run.
It’s all about, “When they are ready.” Today was Paul’s day. (Not his real name.) He is a regular at the Drop-in Center and Many Meals, resists all efforts to help, even with a much-needed shower. However, David caught up with Ted Perez from the local mental health clinic. We have been waiting for this day. Here is the report:
“Paul was waiting for me this am. He was hungry and asked if I had any protein bars. I invited him up to give him some. He then asked for help with SSI. He then said, “I know I need to see a doctor, can you help me?” I told him I could. He will get his SSI papers so I can help him. Will talk to boss on how to fast track him.”
There are so many success stories. I know there are not enough to make the community understand what a slow process. What I hear from people is, “Get them out of here.” The question is, “Where?” Every city has enough of their own and they don’t want ours.
This may sound like the sharing of confidential information, but Paul is my client too and we work as a team to reach him and serve him.
There is a stronghold of people who live in the River because they want to be away from town to do their thing. They stick together and protect each other. That group has no affinity with the group that lives at the tracks. It’s a challenge to break into these strongholds. We have to drawn them in to us.
SPIRIT of Santa Paula was funded today to install trash bins near both places. One person at each spot will be paid to fill the bins each week in an effort to clear the trash and debris. Porta-potties can be stationed nearby if there is no objection from neighbors.
There will come a day when their condition will be so bad they will reach for help. We and our partners will be there.
The mental health issue has to be addressed with some of them. One woman in particular is living behind a building on Main Street. I was able to get her to One Stop last Friday for a shower and registration into the Homeless Management Information System. She was back in her spot, now very nasty from using it and her small mattress as a bathroom, talking about her 38 mothers and fathers who are in heaven but some of them are still looking for her. She can be arrested on a 5150 hold if she is a danger to herself or to others. If not, without new legislation to hold someone up to a month, the courts will be required to let her go. She cannot be held against her will. It’s a terrible dilemma. The horns of that dilemma are the limitations on the police, the unfair impact on the shopkeeper and the rights of an individual to be homeless.
SPIRIT board hopes to initiate a public forum in each of our supervisorial districts to let the public know what is being done, what can be done, and what opportunities exists for resolution of the homeless issue. The County’s CEO staff is considering options for such presentations.
I would like you to meet long-time founding board member, W. John Kulwiec. The early conversations about SPIRIT and a role for our good intentions began in his home back in the year 2000.
John serves as Treasurer and provides very experienced leadership in the non-profit arena. He has served many years on the Boys and Girls Club board and has been active in many local organizations, including service on the Santa Paula Planning Commission. He is the founder of Kulwiec Group Architects and is married to Susan Kulwiec, Interior Designer. Susan is serving the SPIRIT board as Director of Development. John has a long career in architectural practices and is formerly a licensed contractor. He served in the US Air Force Civil Engineering Department and he is an expert witness in forensic architecture. John has a Bachelor of Architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago with a major in Architecture and a minor in City Planning. He is a longtime resident of Santa Paula and been a champion of many local causes including the effort to end homelessness here.
Thanks again to Food Share, we have lots of fresh vegetables for tomorrow’s pantry. Our menu is Turkey Pot Pie with mashed potatoes, fresh cooked carrots, cole slaw, grapes, butter and rolls and orange slices.
Next week’s profile is on our board President, David Bavero.
Our Goal: End Homelessness in Santa Paula
Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of SPIRIT of Santa Paula. She can be reached at 805.340.5025.
Website is www.spiritofsantapaula.org.
Address is 113 North Mill Street, Santa Paula CA 93060.
Mailing address is: P.O. Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728
“Serving the least Powerful and Most Vulnerable People in our Community.”