STATS JUST THIS PAST WEEK: Thanks to our volunteers and our supporters, 500 meals were prepared for our guests at Many Meals; 192 families took advantage of our food pantry and USDA food distribution with fresh strawberries, peanut butter, rice, beans, bread, yogurt, orange juice, crackers and green vegetables. This is the hub of weekly connections for own community to receive support in small but meaningful ways.
If I had a nickel every time I head that statement, I could pay the water bill for 100 families. There are many good reasons why we are so keen on serving so much food.
This friend lives on streets in Santa Paula. He is from a family of nine and has a brother also on the streets. He shies away from groups and rarely comes to the Drop In Center. As a result, he earns his money by dumpster diving–a dangerous and nasty sport. His elbow was invaded by a shard of some kind and became infected in hours. After a trip to the ER, we had to come back in the morning for another examination when the doctor said he needed surgery. He was transported to Ventura County Medical Center and after surgery, was discharged two days later to the street. Within a day, his bandages were dirty. For those who see us daily, here is why food is basic.
- They are healthier
- They panhandle less.
- They steal less.
- When they feel better, they have more energy.
- When they have been fed, they are often more cooperative to get things done.
- Like us, they will be healthier when they die.
“Just Walk With Me.”
Today we had a visit from one of our shelter-fragile guests. She was crying. Apparently her living situation is deteriorating. Someone in the house tried to take her wheelchair away and she was frightened. She was so upset she couldn’t talk. She came to the Drop In Center after hours for some comfort and said to Maria, “Just walk with me.” They did. We’ll see what to do for her. Sometimes that’s all they need and we know how to do that.
Pragmatic Solutions Welcome Here.
The dialogue about “what we wish for” is passe and has no place in the war against poverty and homelessness. As a professional property manager, I see a new class of homeless as a result of rising rents. A four bedroom home on No. 13th Street in Santa Paula just rented for $2,300. Already, the tenant can’t make the second month’s installment due to an illness in the family.
The solutions are: shelter, health care, basic necessities, child care, wider use of existing Section 8 vouchers, education, access to mental health services, stable incomes… to mention just a few. And, we need equity in the application and availability of services.
Great steps are being taken in a variety of areas. SPIRIT of Santa Paula has been approved to participate in the Ventura County HMIS (Homeless Management Information System which creates multiple opportunities to serve our vulnerable populations. Local groups are working towards improving access to services by establishing an “Under One Roof” facility. SPIRIT received a grant from the County’s CDBG funding cycle to do more with our homeless and family support shelters. Dialogue is underway with the City of Santa Paula’s top leadership and the County of Ventura for housing options and programs.
Wednesday is Many Meals — for Anyone.
As always, we anticipate new people with new needs at Many Meals, every Wednesday from 5 to 6 pm. We have seating in the dining room, family style, and take-out for the evening meal and likely the next day. It worries me when I see a homeless person take three meals. I always pray it is for someone else and not to be saved til the next day. Grandmothers and grandkids eat together, spouses come to have a night out with friendly hosts. The address is 121 Davis Street, Santa Paula, hosted by the First Presbyterian Church who also sponsor church at the park on Sundays at 11.
This week’s menu is: Chicken and angel hair pasta casserole with sesame dressing, fresh tomatoes, olives, celery, onions; fresh strawberries, orange wedges, cooked carrots from Garman’s Pub, rolls and butter.
Some of our best helpers are high school students who show up to help and have fun at the same time.
THE GOAL IS TO END HOMELESSNESS IN SANTA PAULA.
It can be done.