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

 

 

 

When the Neighborhood Gets Cranky – Week 472 on January 31, 2018

We lost another homeless person this past week. Eddy Newman was sleeping at the tracks and was found not responsive. Paramedics could not revive him. He was only 30 years old. His mother and grandmother live in our community. We are very sad about this as he was a helper at the Drop-In Center.

Not unlike our own neighborhoods, when something looks like it could change or innovators get out of line or someone crosses their turf line, it goes the same way in the outlying areas of our community where the homeless population lives.

They refer to each other by where they sleep. “They are at the tracks” or “They are at the lower river.” They tell stories on each other and love the gossip of who did what and who was arrested yesterday. There is rivalry and suspicion of the other camps. It is a sad commentary of how some live their lives. After a time, they view it as normal and don’t see themselves living any other way.

One of our reasons for serving this population is that for a time with us during the day at the Drop-In Center or at Many Meals, they get a soft touch and kind words. It brings them back to what many of them knew as children or before drugs and alcohol became what they worship. They also listen to the news. They were intent on the Thomas Fire, the tragedy in Montecito and always on national news.

Street life is hard and ugly. It’s a constant search for money for a fix or the big beer and burrito. With us, they don’t have to worry about food or bus passes for court appearances, and as a result, I think there is less panhandling. But, stealing is a way of life and they are always protecting their back backs, blankets and phones. Every day we hear a plea for another blanket, lotion, water bottles and small amounts of cash. Daily, we lose hand soap dispensers, toilet paper, and napkins.

In case you wondered, there is a rotation for who gets the hot spot at the bottom of the 10th street exit. One of them tends to sleep through his shift.

A number of our unsheltered friends are working at making things right by the law by completing community service hours. I signed off today on a completion of over 300 hours. It took her two years to do it but she did it. Whenever they start, they feel like it’s hopeless. We always take them in for assignments and they soon begin to see the wisdom of the work. They like being needed and making new friends, and before long they see the results of their good work and intentions. I tell them it’s like going on a diet. Soon those uneaten calories add up!

Last week at Many Meals, we adopted the sweet task of learning the names of our guests. Our volunteers are so amazing. There are several children from 6 to 10; many teenagers from Santa Paula High School and St. Augustine Academy, community members and leaders.  I often look around the room and see the charming variety of humanity comprised of grandmas with little ones, families in after work, and very senior men eating alone and eating generously. I wonder where they came from and how did their paths and ever cross mine? There are numerous connections for those in need with a variety of available services.

Our meals are fabulous. The 8-9 cooks who gather at noon on Wednesdays take my recipe and ingredients and make it theirs. Many of our student volunteers eat together in the dining room before they go home. That’s a testimony to the cooks, right?

Our Mental Health Moment from Dr. Miller was about eating properly and balancing food intake, relating it to the ravages of anorexia, binge eating and purging.  I have three homeless women who are on the verge of this disorder. Offering food is not always the right answer. So, we offer ourselves.

Showers – Jill Wallerstedt and Melinda White assist the County Healthcare Agency in offering weekly showers.  There are 8 – 12 weekly faithful attendees. This number will grow when warmer weather arrives. There will be a grand opening for the public to see what we are doing on Friday, February 23 at 9 am. Please come. It is located at 1029 E. Santa Paula Street, at El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church.

The Count of Homeless Persons 2018 event sign-up page is now on the Volunteer Ventura County website. This activity is an education in itself. You will be safe and with us. Please click this link to volunteer on Thursday, February 22 from 6 am to 1 pm.  View: http://www.volunteerventuracounty.org/aem/general/event/?doc_id=4649

Free Eye Glasses:  Thanks to the amazing work of the Lions Club and the cooperation of members at the Church of Christ, free exams and prescription glasses will be given on Saturday, Feb 17 from 8 am to 2 pm at Santa Paula Church of Christ, 276 W. Santa Paula Street. Call Ken Ary 805.201.5929 or Al Learn 805.525.8566.

Food Share was on alert today with a major food inspection of their facilities. We came home with 1200 lbs of food and spent $8. Lots of melons, Meyer lemons, romaine, potatoes, oranges, pears, rolls, muffins, pastries among other foods.

While it will be warm tomorrow, we are serving cold chicken curry pasta with olives, sweet relish, raisins, celery and onions. Hot buttered carrots with a brown sugar orange glaze, rolls and butter, romaine lettuce salad with tomatoes.

You really should join us. It’s my weekly adventure into a very special world of service.

Don’t forget to name SPIRIT of Santa Paula when you shop on www.smile.amazon.com. Thanks for reading and caring about what we do.​

The End of the Road for Some – Week 469, January 10, 2018

I am very sad tonight. While a number of our unsheltered friends are very sick, I visited one today in ICU. She doesn’t have long to live and I was told family needed to come “now.” Thanks to Facebook and Messenger, I found them and sent the alarm.

She has two daughters, both educated. One has high credentials in academia but not able to save or even influence her mother’s habit of 30 years in drugs and on the streets.

She wanted a drink of water but none could be administered. She was told today she doesn’t have long to live and told me she is scared. We’ve had this discussion numerous times. She cried and lamented the years of bad choices that caused irreparable damage. I have followed her for 10 years, the ups and downs, the steps forward and back.

As I looked her, feeling waves of irritation mixed with compassion, sorrow and misery, I wondered what else we could have done. This I know. If housing of any kind had been made available, there would have been an opportunity for managed care which includes safe sleep, healthy food, yes, clean needles as she worked her way to clean and sober living.

In the end, she will die from a combination of cirrhosis of the liver, Hepatitis C and HIV, ulcerated limbs among other things, having likely contaminated many people along the way.

One day, two years ago, a very important person in the health care system for Ventura County moved a mountain and got her into the temporary system of managed care–just because I asked him to. In the end, against all hope, it wasn’t enough because it was temporary and that is because that is all there is.

When this is over, I will request a review of the cost of her health care within the system of the Emergency Room to help determine once and for all that the cost of one person like her can cost taxpayers a million dollars a year. It’s been proven true by many other homeless individuals.

The cost of a one bedroom apartment plus utilities would be about $15,000. Health care professionals by the dozens are attending her now, so even that cost would be reduced. The entire community would benefit from having a healthier individual not using city streets as a toilet and exposing other homeless people to this array of life threatening illnesses.

I will cry when she is gone. Her fight will be over but not mine. There are many who will fight on until one day there is enough political will within the healthcare system and community leaders to provide housing opportunities and managed care for those in the homeless population who want to live normal lives. Will some resist this opportunity? Yes, and that is because they aren’t ready to release the very demon that is killing them. Complex, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, we stay ready so that when they are, someone will answer.

Many Meals provides a weekly hot meal and food pantry and is a part of the Whole Person Care Program under the Ventura County Health Care Agency, led by Dr. Johnson Gill and attended by an amazing battalion of dedicated health care professionals. They are supported by a contingent of amazing mental health counselors and advocates led by Dr. John Schipper and assisted by the Behavioral Health Advisory Board, led by Elaine Crandall and Patrick Zarate. The weekly shower program is providing one more component of Whole Person Care. The connections made at the Richard’s Drop-In Center keeps the dots aligned as we bring services and caring people into the mix through the week, including Church in the Park on Sundays.

To conclude, tomorrow’s heartwarming and healthy meal is whole wheat spaghetti with homemade (mostly) spaghetti and generous amount of meat sauce, (thanks to the food rescue team to the Santa Paula School District) tangerines (thanks to our partners at Food Forward), hot buttered carrots thanks to Garman’s Pub, chips, cole slaw with raisins and pineapple thanks to Food Share.

The State of Homelessness in Santa Paula

On the Other Hand

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

October 5, 2013

 

There are less homeless people in Santa Paula today than three years ago. The numbers have gone to more than 90 to around 30. They are what I call “hard core” homeless.

With some exceptions, most homeless people are choosing it over being housed in safe and clean places because of their drug and alcohol addictions. Plain and simple.

The SPIRIT of Santa Paula operated the winter shelter for homeless folks for three years. We chose to discontinue that program in 2012-2013. Our goal when we began in 2009 was to end homelessness. During the first two years we housed many children and single parents which was during the most difficult economic period. During the last year of operation, while there were some exceptions, addiction ranked high of the list causing homelessness.

It became apparent to the Board that we with great effort on the part of volunteers, simple making people comfortable in winter who were unwilling to help themselves and mark the hard decision and tackle the work necessary to change their lives.

We met with many of them and explained why we were closing the shelter and prepared them in September of 2011 to seek alternatives. Some of them entered the shelter programs in Oxnard for mothers and children at the Lighthouse and the men went to the Salvation Army, the Armory and Rescue Mission.

Many of them hunkered down into the river bed and suffered through the winter with terrible colds, teeth ache and catered to their addictions.

There has been a spike in panhandling since then. Many of the beggars you see on the street corners and at Von’s have addictions. If you give them money, you might as well give them their next fix.

We told them we were not abandoning them but when they were ready to change their life, we would be there for them. We have been and we are.

Some of them are in counseling and treatment programs and some of them are working hard at staying clean and sober. Some have put themselves on calendar at the court and done their jail time and entered rehab programs.

For three years, SPIRIT managed Richard’s House, a transitional homeless shelter on the edge of town. During that time, we served 59 people ranging from our two newborns to women over 70 years ago. Fifteen of them were under the age of 15. They were truly and legitimately homeless.

To my knowledge through today, no one from that prior of time is on the streets. Most of them have found permanent shelter and many of them have jobs. Some are in campers and garages but not hiding behind dumpsters.

On September 30, 2013, Richard’s House officially closed.  It is not because the need ended but because we were not equipped as a small non-profit to adequately case manage each resident. We were not monitoring their daily schedules and following up with job interviews, doctor’s appointment and programs.  Because of that some of them stayed a few weeks beyond their allotted time and left when we got very aggressive in monitoring their progress.

SPIRIT has reorganized our services and are working closer with individuals and local churches in small group settings and individual counseling sessions to see how to live the life God designed for them.  We have found counselors and two trainees serving in the Valley Biblical Counseling Center. There is no charge for services.

Our drop-in center at the First Christian Church is expanding hours and services to help connect people with resources and services currently offered through the County which includes “stop smoking” programs, mental health, dental care, prescription assistance and others. Soon, nutrition classes will be offered during the day to help mothers prepare healthier foods and stem the overwhelming tides of childhood obesity and diabetes.

The Many Meals program at the First Presbyterian Church provides a hot meal for anyone who wants one. We serve about 600 meals each week to hungry families who by USDA standards can save $80/month for a family of four if they eat with each Wednesday.  That’s a tank of gas or a utility bill. Some of the river people come for dinner; so do a few of our local business people.

We partner with the County in distributing literature on services for which they are eligible, the Rescue Mission, United Way for utility and rental assistance, Cal Fresh, USDA food supplies and cell phones.  We are focused on healthy families so life is easier at home and kids do better in school.

We are the refrigerator connection in town. Many landlords do not provide refrigerators so we help people connect with one so they can live a normal life in a habitable dwelling.

The entire matter of drugs and alcohol should alarm us.  We all need to be educated on the effect of having a methadone clinic in our community providing daily doses of substitute legal drugs to addicts.

Santa Paula also has a needle exchange program, controversial to most everyone. That question is always simple. Do we want our drug addict to use dirty needles and spread HEP C and HIV among other diseases? Or, do we prefer to have our addicts use clean needles and not spread them.

Drug and alcohol abuse is a major cause of society‘s meltdown and must be a contributor to our increasing violence and gang activity.

Harbor Church in Ventura is under attack by the neighborhood for the element it is attracting by serving the chronic homeless population. All the elements that concern those neighbors are fair.  They were asked by the planning commission to take on the task of managing their homeless visitors with the goal of ending homelessness. The response was that is not the call of the church to take on that function.

I couldn’t disagree more. The Bible is very clear on the role of the Church in helping our brothers and sisters, admonishing and teaching them, and restoring them.  It is also clear about helping the poor as it is on what happens to lazy people.  If the church shepherds people within it, there must be way for Harbor Church to work within that structure to manage them. Delivering “no strings attached” services just doesn’t work.

The good news is our real homeless population is less than half of what it was. The count in 2007 was 97, in 2009 it was 91; in 2010 the number dropped to 54; it dropped again in 2011 to 50; it spiked in 2012 to 60 for unknown reasons and dramatically dropped in 2012 to 34 people.  That should be considered progress.

Most of our homeless are second and third generation Santa Paulans who wore out their families trying to deal with their additions. Someone of our homeless men and women have mental issues and have deeply troubled souls. The hear voices and live with great fear. This adds to the problem of homelessness and demands on public safety personel.

There is someone dear to me in this work who has managed to hold herself above the tragic events that circle a home where addicts live. She has lost brothers and sisters and a niece. She has family in prison and cares for her mother who lives with a broken heart over the devastation drugs has unleashed upon her family.

She is a woman who despite all odds is a good and capable citizen, caring for her family, getting them all to school and church where good foundations for the future are laid by a caring teachers, administrators, and a pastor who encourages and preaches the Good News about redemption and how old things can pass away and all things can become new.

It can be done but hardly alone. It takes many support systems to prop up the one who is in front.

Our pastoral and counseling work has led us to families who visit their children in prison and pray for them while they try to care for and feed their grandchildren.

The issue of drug and alcohol addiction as it relates to homelessness and gang activity is no small problem in this community of ours and it didn’t happen in a short time.

However, it has accelerated in a short time and we have been surprised by the overt fearless demonstration of violence. It has not surprised the families who live in fear of very bad possibilities and the realities of wrenching outcomes. It breaks hearts of parents and grandparents and devastates children who don’t know where to look for stability, safety, consistency and genuine love.

I’m supporting our new Chief of Police, Steve McLean, and praying with many church leaders that he can return us to a time when we can sit on porches again and children can play safely in parks and the streets. Hopefully to a time when our grandparents can dream dreams again and our children have hope for a future free of violence.

We must provide a community that stops robbing children of being a child in a small community that is safe to play and learn and grow.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is the volunteer director of SPIRIT of Santa Paula, the advocates for homeless and hungry families.

The new link between homelessness and mental illness

The City of Santa Paula is experiencing an alarming increase in crime from members of our homeless population. There are assaults and fearless attempts to rob and steal for their next beer or fix. Begging is on the rise. They are sleeping closer to town and pee and poop where they will.

We are at crisis stage. The level of violence among street people is leading to elevated police response and with heightened public scrutiny all around, this is a situation we must avoid. In my view, the new level of violence is fueled by the lack of housing for people living on the street and from mental illness due to drug and alcohol abuse.

A mental disorder or mental illness is a mental or behavioral pattern that causes either suffering or a poor ability to function in ordinary life. As our culture progresses, disorders becomes more numerous often, in my opinion, creating excuses for poor behavior. For example, in the latest version of the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), doctors have labeled road rage as a disorder and given it a new name, “Intermittent Explosive Disorder” affecting up to 16 million Americans.

Since Christmas Eve 2008, when we found a homeless man dead in one of our churches, I have come to know many of our homeless people like family. We have fed them, counseled them, sheltered and housed them, buried several, visited them in jails and hospitals and cried with and over them.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reports that there is a “definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances”. Mental health disorder patients are responsible for the consumption of 38 percent of the alcohol, 44 percent of the cocaine and 40 percent of all cigarettes. People who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder are responsible for the consumption of 69 percent of alcohol, 84 percent of cocaine, and 68 percent of cigarettes.
There’s a connection between substance abuse and mental health disorders, and any number of combinations can develop.
A necessary component of treatment is housing of some kind to get them off the street and manage their recovery. A nexus is needed for those who have moved to Methadone treatment so there is an automatic plan to taper down the doses.

I make no excuses for my homeless people, and I am an advocate for their care and restoration. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t made a bad choice in our lives. Fortunately not all bad choices led to others or did permanent damage. There are many from all walks of life who daily make the ultimate devastating choices, for whatever reasons, to drink excessively and use drugs.

A recent public statement was, “homeless people are criminals.” Not all are and certainly not all criminals are homeless. The reality is that many suffer from mental illness because of their addictions impairing their decision-making process. This can lead to homelessness and compound criminal activity.

Economic homelessness can be solved and there are success stories everywhere. The subset of that is homelessness stemming from the impact of mental illness, whatever the cause. It is hard to solve and requires new strategies.

The criminal activity of homeless people ranges from petty theft to armed robbery, intimidation of bystanders, compromised uses of public facilities and tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars on many levels. This includes the awarding of social security dollars to many who have self-inflicted health issues and the expensive cost of medical treatments in our urgent care facilities and ER’s.

One young man pretends to throw himself in front of cars and yells at pedestrians about fighter jets. A young homeless woman on meth gave birth recently to a baby who was taken by CPS. The mother is coming undone and believes in a conspiracy between the police and hospital staff.

The treatment of homeless people who are mentally ill must include housing. Neither problem can be solved without the ultimate collaboration of Mental Health Services and housing providers. Here’s how it goes.

Give someone a shower, clean clothes, a meal, a bed and a case manager. Housing makes homelessness easier to solve than to manage. A famous case study was reported in The New Yorker, February 13, 2006. It is titled “Million-Dollar Murray”. The study claims that a small number of chronic homeless people cause a large drain on social services. It also shows it is less expensive to house them than it is to chase them. I don’t mean place them into an apartment and give them the keys. A treatment program, structure, counseling, and case management 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is required.

In one specific 18-hour period in Santa Paula in May, one homeless woman was transported by police, fire and ambulance three times and treated in the emergency rooms of two County Hospitals. She is an addict and has transitioned to Methadone. She received extraordinary treatment in the hospital for almost three weeks for her chronic illnesses. When she was almost well she was discharged with nowhere to go but the streets. She misses follow-up appointments, loses her prescriptions, and can’t keep her sores clean. She is nearly back where she started. The cost to taxpayers is hundreds of thousands of dollars. Imagine the cost over the last 25 years of her homelessness.

We need people on street who are the warm fire that draws them in. Partners and response teams need to be trained professionals who know who to call and where to go when someone is ready for sobriety. Clinicians need to be on scene–not in an office hoping someone drops in.

Failure to provide the team power at the entry level has brought us to the hard task we face now. Bits and pieces of good work are being done but there is a disconnect in some. One is that not all communities have the resources to deal with the problem. This is especially critical since the central winter shelter in Oxnard has been terminated for 2015. Unless a community provides one, homeless people will be on streets this winter–in all communities. This will elevate the need for police and fire services.

The Mental Health Services family must convene a task force to address the specific issues that communities face within the homeless population fueled by drug and alcohol addictions and develop pro-active strategies that include housing. They must also bring trained clinicians into our schools to deal with children facing suicide and depression. They need to help parents struggling with financial stresses and all the issues facing our culture. Santa Paula deserves financial and resource parity with every other community.

No entity is better equipped or informed than this County’s Behavioral Health system. The approach needs to be radical to achieve radical and positive outcomes. The goal is to solve a problem that affects the whole community—business owners, children, public safety and relieve the taxpayers who are funding millions annually to treat and transport. We need to treat the whole person.

When there is both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse issue, it is important that the patient enroll in a treatment program that addresses both problems at the same time. The untreated symptoms of a mental health disorder can cause the patient to be unable to remain clean and sober, and untreated substance abuse issues can make mental health treatment ineffective.

I often feel crushed with the weight of human need from our homeless people. The need now is the heavy artillery and chariots of trained professionals who will work until it’s done. It won’t take long–just money and talent and commitment.

I wonder why love isn’t enough. Why isn’t the family tie or the memories of affection, security, holidays, birthdays and graduations enough to motivate an addict to and seek sobriety? Why do they love the drug more than the people who love them most.

I have wondered that since our own daughter, Kathy, died of a drug overdose in 2006. What would have made the difference in her last day, or in the days preceding that one?

I pray the hope and encouragement I offer will make a life-changing difference in someone’s last day. I know that if I fail to try I will answer for it.