It Can Happen Here – News and View from Many Meals – Week No. 483 – April 24, 2018

There is great sorrow over the death of Anthony Mele, Jr. in Ventura last Thursday evening as he had dinner at a local restaurant with this wife and young daughter. This senseless, tragic death is astonishing and it points to our new reality that no one is safe anywhere. We cannot rest easy and think we will be untouched by the troubled humanity around us. Not many years ago, we were unlucky if something bad happened to us. Now, we are lucky if it doesn’t.

There will never be enough police to help them or help us. However, the new policing view has to be that both are done at the same time. We will be safer if there are better ways with more services to help our police departments help them. By helping them, they protect us.

What to do?  SPIRIT board members have asked for a meeting with a variety of leaders to take the lid off this coffin of mental illness among our homeless population. Our local officers know who the bad actors are, but they don’t know where they are all the time. One bad morning, aggravated by a sleepless night of roaming or rousting, can bring out the worst in someone. Many who see me around 9 every day are almost immovable with  frustration and loss of hope. Those with addictions are drowning in their own sense of guilt, fear and hopelessness. One was set off today because his car was towed for expired tags. He is 24 and on the streets tonight. I have no idea what he will be like tomorrow.

A 63-year old woman is staying in a local commercial business thanks to a soft business owner.  Further thanks to the new One-Stop, sponsored by the Ventura County Healthcare Agency, she received a diagnosis and some medication, but a 63-year old woman on the street is not safe. Her income is $973 per month. Not enough for a room and anything else, and I don’t know anyone who would rent to her. Another man, over 70 is staying in a building near the center of town. No shower, no cooking facilities. His income is about $900 per month.

So, I ask everyone to be extra mindful of your surroundings and support our police in every way possible. They have all been trained in Crisis Response but they can only be in one place at one time.

The call to action from the citizens of Ventura is our call as well. Some of the items cited at Monday’s Ventura City Council meeting are these:

  1. Ventura has hired 24 new officers to deal with homeless people.
  2. Define difference between homeless people and vagrants
  3. Hours of patrol officers have been extended
  4. Fire Departments and Battalion Chiefs are asked to be on the lookout for violations.
  5. One council member said she believes there are new people in town and believes
  6. they are being bussed from somewhere. People think that here as well.
  7. Councilmember Christy Weir stated that the methadone agency is no friend to the community and I agree. I have been to our clinic many times and believe it attracts drug users.
  8. Police want to focus on behavior and not just the fact they are homeless
  9. They discussed hiring an attorney to deal solely with police department issues
  10. There are nuisance behaviors that accelerates to violent behaviors
  11. They want to reinforce and elevate the laws against panhandling
  12. Ask all grocery stores to put locks on the carts so they can’t leave the premises
  13. Provide more housing: crisis, transitional and affordable
  14. Support Hannah Beth Jackson’s Senate bill for safety: Go to www.keepcalsafe.org and sign the petition
  15. Support SB 1971 on gravely disabled which allows people to be conserved for the good of the public. I wrote about this in a weekly email.
  16. Enforce anti-recycling laws that provides funds for homeless people. It keeps them  from getting help.
  17. Better lighting in all areas
  18. Increased collaboration with all service agencies and providers
  19. Work with other cities and learn about best practices.

The housing shortage is at crisis levels. Yesterday, two new homeless people were created because their cars were towed. One angel helped with funds to retrieve the car for the woman, but the 24 year old is sleeping on the street tonight. He had no money for tags and he took chances until his time ran out.  If our police are going to enforce laws, they have to apply it evenly.

The work of SPIRIT of Santa Paula is designed to end homelessness in our community. Work is being done in various planning to take us to that end. Our Project Manager is John Kulwiec, Architect Emeritus  and Fund Development Manager is Susan Kulwiec.  We are collaborating with people with have known for their good work and planning for programs we used to dream of.

I will keep you informed as doors open. Our Chief of Police and our officers are dedicated to preserving peace and helping people who are homeless where they can while keeping the public safe as a first priority.

Our new website will be up soon – thank you to Councilmember and pastor, Jenny Crosswhite and he charming husband, Daniel Sandoval. Geeks of a higher calling.

Tomorrow is Many Meals where we link up with our fragile neighbors. Thanks to the Presbyterian Church for opening your doors, to the members of so many churches who volunteer with us and to El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church for hosting the One Stop Clinic on Fridays. Showers are now from 9 am to 12:45 pm.

Our menu will be chicken pasta casserole, cole slaw with fresh pineapple, Pixie oranges thanks to Food Forward and Michael Shore,  buttered carrots thanks to Garman’s Pub, rolls and butter.

We love our volunteers, especially the kids.

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 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.”

The Good Neighbor Award 2017

 

 

 

Remember – They are People Who Are Homeless: Week 479 on March 28, 2018.

I “went to school” this past week at the emergency shelter for our people who are homeless. What I learned is that I must cease referring to them as “homeless people”, as my friend Jane Lax, once reminded me.

They are “people who are homeless” because they are as unique as any one of us who is not. Therefore, they must be treated one at a time. No one great plan will work for all of them, and likely even most of them.

Most of my unsheltered friends either long to have a pet or have one. Those who have pets, usually dogs, will make sure the animal is warm and eats before they do.

Thanks to our Santa Paula City Council members, City Manager, Michael Rock, and Community Services Director, Ed Mount, we were able to host an emergency shelter for those who are homeless during the storm last week in the Cultural Arts Building behind the Community Center. We served a total of 42 unduplicated people.  Many thanks to my volunteers Howard Stephen, Luis Cantero, Maria Sanchez and Bessie Crowell. We know how to sleep with one eye open.

One of the guests at the shelter had a little dog with kennel cough. I’ll call the owner Chris to avoid using real names and identifying male or female.

The dog coughed all day and all night and the owner stayed awake most of the night on a phone that didn’t work.  And, there was constant chatter between the Chris and another guest. Chris had been in the hospital for several days, and the dog was fostered by a kind person who even offered to provide a surgical procedure on a tumor on the dog’s leg. The owner refused the surgery and felt the dog would get better on his own.  On Friday, my Howard took the owner and the dog to our vet who prescribed an inexpensive, over the counter medicine for the cough.

We closed the shelter on Friday and didn’t see Chris again until Monday at the drop in center. The dog was much worse. I asked if the dog had been receiving the recommendation and was told that taking care of the dog was her business, not mine.

I went back to the vet’s office and got the Amoxicillin, a common antibiotic and took it back to Chris who refused to administer it. The dog was in great distress and coughing constantly. We had serious words about neglect, duty and cruelty. I told Chris if the dog was not treated, I would report the situation to Animal Control. Chris left the office in a fit of bad language. I went to SPARC (our no-kill shelter) to get some advice and Donovan, the Animal Control Officer, happened to be there. He had received my message and knew who I was referring to. Chris had been at SPARC before and caused a scene there over the dog’s care. He stated he could issue a citation for neglect — if he finds them.

I know not where they are tonight. I don’t know how long the dog can survive in that condition. It is very disheartening to know that Chris has the medicine needed to provide the cure and out of stubbornness is withholding it.

This is an example of someone not thinking normally, and while I would not casually use the term mental illness, the behavior is characteristic of someone who suffers from it. I don’t know what it will take to reach Chris to provoke care for this animal. Chris has been on the street for a year, extremely thin, but has not seen before now. So, what plan?

Remember the Michael of last week’s email, who I found on the street and gave him $10 to come in out of rain? He settled down on a cot reading a book on witchcraft. After lights were out he began talking to someone and after repeated and polite requests to go to sleep and be quiet, he got mad and left. His behavior was alarming me a little, so I called the police and asked them to come by. They saw him leaving the building on their approach and had a chance to talk to him. Michael lives on the very east end of town and known to the police. He is a loner, does not like to be around people and is very easily agitated. When he is confronted, he becomes very combative.

I realized I compelled him to come into an environment in which is not comfortable and his subsequent behavior, common for him but a mystery to us, made all of us wary of possibilities.

He is another example of being a person who is homeless and not part of the homeless population. Therefore, needs to be treated as unique and as an individual.

The lesson for me is that I need to see them as individuals and not as a group of people with similarities other than they don’t have a home.  When I do that better, I can help him or her much better and they may get ready to live the life God designed for them.  I’m sure we can all agree that no one is ever sentenced to a life on the streets. The right resources are there. We just need to make the connection.

The clinicians and social workers and administrative staff at Ventura County Health Care Agency are so amazing. They are “The Connection” and they are here in town every Friday doing just that at El Buen Pastor Church, 1029 E. Santa Paula Street.

Shea from Tisa’s Salon was at One Stop last Friday giving haircuts to any and all.  The visiting number was the highest at 22 last week and because many were at the shelter, we were able to shuttle them to One Stop. Now, I think we need a 12-passenger van to shuttle regular. They can’t be helped if transportation is a barrier.

My friends and SPIRIT board members, John and Susan Kulwiec, have taken on the role of grant exploration to see what is out there in the way of funding. Jill Wallerstedt was instrument in completing our Community Development Block Grant application with the County of Ventura.

What I also long for is a storage unit where we could house supplies and household items donated to us.  Largely so I can clear my office but so we know where everything is. Any ideas are welcome.

My Realtor® colleague, Karen Campbell, picked up0 and delivered the most amazing array of mangos, Kiwi, bell peppers and vegetables from Food Forward in Simi Valley today. What a pantry it will be.

Dinner tomorrow is mashed potatoes, shepherd’s pie with carrots from Garman’s Pub, peas, celery, green bell pepper, onions and corn, fresh strawberries, salad rolls and butter.   Last week the rain stopped during Many Meals. We only planned for 300 but ended up making about 100 more meals.

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 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.”

The Good Neighbor Award 2017