Have You Seen Her This Week–Mom Wants to Know.  News and Views from Many Meals – Week 486 on May 9, 2018

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.

The Gravely Disabled Bill in the Legislature AB 2156

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.

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

 

 

 

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