“Now I lay me down to sleep.” News from the Streets of Santa Paula and a Report from Many Meals for Week 492 on July 4, 2018

This is how they do it. Natalie is sleeping in the park and this is how I found early this past week. She came into the Drop In Center, famished and weary. It has to be a long day for her and sleeping in such an exposed manner is fitful, making for the beginnings of a hard day, every day.

In two cases, they aren’t ready for a sober life. In the other

Natalie sleeping on bench 6.18

case, she needs a variety of help and care. Most of all, she needs gentle words.

She takes everything to heart and doesn’t want to bother anyone.

Gabriel sleeping behind church 6.18

Gabriel is sleeping behind one of our churches on a Saturday afternoon. He was rousted by an officer due to a “No Trespass” sign just above his head.

Jeremias was at the park on Saturday and extremely intoxicated. He thought about going to the Rescue Mission but after a snooze on my office floor, thought better of it.

Jeremias sleeping in office 6.18

Thanks to the regular visits of our mental health and Whole Person Care professionals who visit our streets and follow up at the Drop In Center, many of our homeless people are coming closer to the source of help.

It’s an old adage, but they truly don’t care to help themselves until they feel they are worth it. We believe all things are possible.

Are these things easy? No…. sobriety is very hard work.

We wish to the thank the committee known as Project Hope, chaired by local resident, Pam Marshall and initiated by Council member Martin Hernandez three years ago. The goal was to bring light to the subject of homelessness in Santa Paula. There were 29 committee members and partners who met regularly to learn, express concerns and share ideas about how to end homelessness. Thank you for the hard work and genuine enthusiasm.

 

“It Makes Me Want to Drink” – News from Many Meals on June 6, 2018 

Each week I have experiences revealing again that homelessness is not just about vagrants or transients, the new names that further categorize and stigmatize people who are homeless.

She is 74 years old, has an elegant name and dresses like a model. She rents a room with no kitchen privileges so the Drop In Center and Many Meals is a life-line for her during the week. She has lost her upper teeth and is very conscious of her appearance. She came to see me today in tears and told me the person who rents her the room has been mean to her and borderline abusive.  She is afraid of him and he is threatening to kick her out.  She is fearful and confided in me that this circumstance makes her want to go back to drinking.

I think most of us have a trigger of some kind that pushes us to shop, or to that chocolate donut, latte or frozen yogurt when we need something to comfort our wounded spirit or calm a fear. In her case, it’s the bottle and she knows it. She can sense she is moving closer to homelessness and drinking alleviates the fear for a while. I assured her I would be there to help her. She has a permanent disability and just finished a bout with cancer. We started her application for senior housing and will get into the Pathways to Home Program with the County of Ventura. Jennifer Harkey and Jackie Villanueva are case workers and saints in my world.

Jose agreed to go into detox last week. He was there for seven days and looked so good when he came home. But, because he is homeless, he went back to the streets where he quickly found his buddies.  He figured he could have a couple of beers, but it turned into two six packs and it’s all undone.  He had a very responsible job but too much time on his hands, His mother cries and so does he. He is very ashamed of his habit and his weakness.  He was offered a bed at Kephera House, arranged by Tom from the Whole Person Care Program, but decided he was “good” and passed on it.  I’m told your body can reach a point where you can die from one more drink.

The wonderful Shelby Hardy is a caseworker with Whole Person Care. She was successful in helping one of the better known men, who is in clear view of our community every day, enter a rehab program last week. She transported him on a Friday. The program is about 30 days. On Monday, he was back in town because he didn’t like being with drug addicts and being confined. There you have it.  What to do?

I’ve mentioned a woman who lives in a commercial building in town. She’s doing what she needs to do to gather her paperwork for the County’s housing program for disabled seniors who are homeless. Her birth certificate arrived today and we are just waiting for her divorce papers and social security card.  She learned today that it was election day and she cried because she didn’t get to vote.  Clearly being homeless doesn’t mean you stop living. It just means you have to find a way to get through the days, find food and a safe place to sleep.

Her government phone finally died so SPIRIT got her a new one. She needs to stay in touch with all the agencies connected to her search for housing and medical care. The One Stop in Santa Paula has made the difference in her quality of life. While not in the best place, she is not on the street with her little dog. One reason people who are homeless languish in that state is because they change their phone number so often. They lose their phone, it gets stolen, it’s a cheap one and it crashes, or they use up their minutes and have to start over when they have money for more.

It was graduation at one of our elementary schools today, and the son of a woman in our circle received top honors winning a trip tomorrow to a famous place with one other student. This family is homeless but safe in a very marginal living environment. Clearly he does his homework and gets the encouragement and support he needs to make his way.

A counselor in the Fillmore School District called today asking for help for a family with three children. They had to leave their apartment due to flooding while they were at work. They have no family here and no resources of their own. They slept in their car last night and we were asked if we would put them in a hotel for tonight. I learned who the landlord is and called him to suggest he needs to offer them lodging or at least vacate the rent for the days they are out. He was slow to agree to the latter, but he did. He shared the name of the property manager so we will follow up with him to be sure credit is given. If their home can’t be repaired, we will have a serious problem.

So you see, homelessness is not restricted to vagrants and transients. We know that category is the group that makes the mess, creates problems, causes trouble and irritates a community. Many of them want “out” of those circumstances but feel trapped or are enslaved to drugs and alcohol. They aren’t ready to do the hard work and there is no place for them to go.

SPIRIT is reaching out to partners in the housing industry and in the business of social services to act diligently in creating housing opportunities. We will be relentless until it happens.

Meanwhile, we continue to rescue unserved food from the Santa Paula Unified School District providing wonderful quantities of meat, milk, sandwiches, hamburgers, burritos, fruit, etc for use at the Drop In Center. Nothing goes to waste.

We closed the Drop In Center last Friday and served breakfast at the One Stop instead. We had our best day I’m told, about 25 people checked in for medical services and showers. James Boyd is the master of ceremonies there and has the same heart for this work as we do. He agrees that “one at a time” is worth it all.

So, in preparation for the weekly lifeline at Many Meals, we are serving Turkey Pot Pie with vegetables and gravy, mashed potatoes, cooked carrots with orange glaze, orange slices, rolls and butter.  Our cooks are the best and prepare these meals as though for their own families.

I can’t thank them enough, or the members of the Presbyterian Church who allow us to use their wonderful commercial kitchen and facilities.

BTW, once in a while, a reader chides me for grammatical errors. I write this late on Tuesdays and often while a little bleary. I will take a little grace on that if you will.

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.”

The Good Neighbor Award 2017

When the Bridges Burn – News and View from Many Meals – Week No. 481 – April 11, 2018

Some of you know that our daily visitors at the Drop In Center are people who are homeless. They become a part of our lives and we know their stories. We learned this week the homeless count in Santa Paula is up this year — as it is in every city in the County.  Why is that?

In the years before the economy began to rebound, people who were homeless as a result of economic challenges, that started with the job loss that unraveled everything, were the easiest to redeem. If they could get a job, they could find a place or room to rent. Not so now, particularly since the Thomas Fire. The rental shortage is significant and rents have greatly increased.  A typical $500 room for rent is now $800 minimum.  The cost to get into a one bedroom apartment can be $3000 or more with deposits

By seeing them every day at the Drop-In Center we get to know their stories. It’s astonishing how many of our people who are homeless are from Santa Paula. They were born and raised here, have kids, siblings, parents and grandparents. You would think that someone in that group of people would take them in, wouldn’t you?

Their stories are filled with sorrow. They are told either in anger, disgust or matter-of-factly. The stories range from a drunken parent, addiction in the home, unemployment, to abuse and neglect. Many took to the streets early in life to find fellowship and respect.

Many stories state they became addicts at early ages. We have several situations where a parent and adult child are homeless together, living in cars.

One story is of a 30 year old girl who was abused by uncles in her own home from the time she was 10 and it continued until she was 16. She ran away from home, became an addict, has several children being cared for by family members, both parents are sick and have adult children living at home with their own children. She wrote bad checks on the accounts of family members, stole the rent money and all but dropped out of school.  She is trying to kick drugs but has a boyfriend who is also an addict, and they sleep in various places, never the same place two nights in a row.

Another wanders the streets by day and hides at night. She has mental challenges and lacks awareness of personal hygiene and self-control.  Her parents are in another city nearby. They give her $50 each week and pay her rent. They are also her payee and she receives $950 per month.  She is  lonely, talks to herself and acts out in various troubling ways. The police regularly stop her.

Another is transgender and lives in a tent in an obscure place. She had a good job and was a well-known hair stylist. She is from Santa Paula and so is her family. No one will take her in.

A young man loved his years in high school. Good student, popular in his class at Santa Paula High School. In his senior year, he learned to love the taste of beer. His parents are in town and he is on the street. There were many tries to take him home and make it work. The drinking doesn’t stop so he wanders the streets half-dressed. He now has a beard and hardly recognizable

We have two brothers who live on the street separately. Their mother just died and so there no one–not even among their seven brothers and sisters to take them in. Too much drama, too many lies, too much stolen money and too much disruption in the household. Their future is on the streets until illness or accident takes them.

One senior citizen has a small dog and spends her days sitting in her storage unit at a local storage facility. She needs surgery to correct a serious bone break. Her parents live in town and she has three adult children–and she is homeless? Over the last two days, she was contacted by four County social workers trying to connect her with housing opportunities.

One young man regularly has seizures. He sits daily in a public place hoping for a few bucks to get through the day. His parents live in town.

 

You can only how bad it must have been for al doors to close and remain sealed.  So, what to do?

Shun them? Isolate them? Ignore them? Feed them to reduce panhandling? Give them basic necessities to ease the pay of the day and discourage stealing?

The best answer is to connect with them. Be the warm fire they are drawn to so they can be directed. The work of SPIRIT of Santa Paula isn’t the solution, but the people are part of the answer. We are uniquely positioned to be the initial link to help. Most will never make an appointment at the Mental Health Clinic, but they will let social workerss and mental health clinicians come to the Drop-In Center, and over a cup of coffee make a plan.

Oddly enough, the three men who consistently sit at the off-ramps of Palm and 10th will not connect with us. We don’t really know them except we know their problems. All three are from Santa Paula and one had very prominent parents, both are gone now.

How bad must it have been so they cannot go home again. I have heard their stories and in many cases, the bridges they once walked on have been burned.

Easy for me to say, but one of the solutions to ending homelessness is to encourage people to forgive those who have hurt them and for their families to be forgiven when hurt has occurred.. I’ve had the privilege of driving some of them home to help initiate good dialogue. I have witnessed the massive amounts of hurt and pain that gets shouted in both directions.  Without forgiveness and forgetting, they really can’t go home again.

So, what to do? They need a place to gather and they need someone to talk to. That is how our days go.  Thanks to the wonderful social workers and clinicians with Whole Person Care in the Ventura County Healthcare Agency, we see changes.  Where there are kind words, there is hope. Where there is no judgment, there is relationship. That is when change can begin.

This world is very hard, and there is much sorrow and sadness. Imagine feeling all that alone, in the dark and believing there is no hope. That is the beginning of the endless cycle of homelessness. Without hope, the people perish.

That’s a wrap.

Our famous spaghetti meat and pineapple sauce is being served tomorrow with cole slaw, rolls and butter, cooked carrots and orange slices. Thanks to my friend Karen Campbell for rescuing many pounds of radishes and fresh beets right off the farm from Food Forward.  Trucks and tarps are part of our gear these days.  Lots of food tomorrow for the pantry. You can visit us on www.facebook.com/ManyMeals

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

 

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

 

When a Homeless Man Finds a Home – Week 478 on March 14, 2018.

SPIRIT of Santa Paula is committed to ending homelessness.

Something great happened this past week to meet that goal. There is a new housing program designed for homeless seniors, at least 62 years old with a documented disability. It was not an easy task to get him approved. The questions now are whether or not he will be able to marry his long-time girlfriend who is only 60 so they can live together. And, will he be able to continue dog-sitting her dog during the day while she works at a part-time job?

The task of finding a homeless person over 62 years old with a documented disability who does not have a criminal background, who doesn’t have substance abuse in his past or present and is sweet and even-tempered is not easy. This effort took eight letters of recommendation, two letters from his doctor and the nod from the Chief of Police.  We are told the unit will be ready at the end of March.

There are several bright sides to this story. One there will be one less homeless person to worry about. One is a lot when you’re the one, right?

Tanya is a female about 46 years old who lives at the river and picks lemons right alongside the men.  Her teeth have become so infected and loose that she can hardly eat.  I’m happy to report that she was fitted for dentures this week and will let me show you her picture before and after.  I just know they are going to be amazing. She is the biggest fan of the Care Pod shower program. When she talks about her hot shower she closes her eyes recalling the uplifting feeling that comes with feeling clean and fresh.

I can’t thank the wonderful people at the Ventura Health Care Agency enough for being a partner is caring for the whole person with a Santa Paula zip code.  Sincere thanks to Woody and Vern for the fabulous piece of equipment and the County  personnel who make their way to the host church, El Buen Pastor, each Friday to meet and greet our homeless visitors.

Then there is Tom from the Drug and Alcohol Division of Whole Person Care who visits the Drop-In Center making friends with those who have had too much to drink or are high. One guest has already asked for help and rehab.  Without Tom checking in on him, it wouldn’t have happened in the same way.

A local angel provided a supply of tarps and ponchos for wet weather use.  Once the homeless get wet, they stay that way until a change of clothes is made available. Many of them get sick and use the emergency room for the primary physician care.  SPIRIT is going to ask the County to commission a study on the cost of health care for the homeless population. I know that the cost of housing is much cheaper.

Food Rescue from the School District is making a big difference on the amount of wasted food being dumped into the landfills. We are able to serve much more commercially prepared food. Whatever you think of global warming, the impact of organic material in the landfill cannot be dismissed.  Here are some interesting links.

An important part of the California Department of Resources Recycling is Organic Materials Management 

Recovery’s mission is to increase the diversion of organic materials away from landfills and toward the production of value-added products such as compost, fertilizers, and biofuels.

Organic waste accounts for more than a third of the material in California’s waste stream. Greenhouse gas emissions caused by the decomposition of organic material in landfills contribute to global climate change. Reducing the amount of organic material sent to landfills is part of the AB 32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) Scoping Plan, is fundamental to ARB’s Short Lived Climate Pollutant strategy, and is one of California’s strategies for reaching the statewide 75 percent recycling goal. Collecting and processing organic materials, particularly food, is also the focus of AB 1826, which mandates such efforts beginning April 1, 2016.

To stay informed on the latest information on organics issues, sign up for email updates by joining a CalRecycle listserv, such as “Organics Materials Management,” “Conversion Technologies,” or “Climate Change.”

Our meal tomorrow is Chicken Enchilada Casserole, hot buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, Orange slices, chips, rice from El Pescador.   When it’s cold, fewer of the river people come top side, but we see them the next day at the Drop-In Center.  We are good with that.

Our Goal:  End Homelessness in Santa Paula  

When you shop Amazon, go to www.smile.amazon.com and specify SPIRIT of Santa Paula as your preferred charity. We are a 501C3 corporation.  EIN 27-0005506.

Donations are welcome at our website and facebook pages.

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

 

 

 

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.

Calling All Towels – Week 466 at Many Meals on December 20, 2017

The Showers are back and it’s been a long-awaited event for our homeless population, and now anyone who has been affected by fires and doesn’t have a place to clean up.

If you have one or more good-sized bath towels to spare, would you drop them at Many Meals this week? We need a new stash.

The details:  The Mobile Outreach Care Pods project is a collaboration between El Buen Pastor Church, Spirit of Santa Paula, and Ventura County Health Care Agency (including Health Care for the Homeless and Whole Person Care Programs and Las Islas Mobile Health Unit) to outreach to and provide basic services, including showers and referrals to social services for the homeless.

The goal is to bring the high utilizers of the health care system into the Whole Person Care Program where all their needs are met with a focus on connecting them to resources and reduce the numbers of ER visits to appropriate and regular care.

The Care Pods are retrofitted container boxes that include showers (including ADA accessible showers) and an exam room for very limited scope medical services (vaccinations, TB testing, brief health assessments, treatment of minor skin conditions).  The goal is to support basic hygiene and connect homeless individuals with a range of services that should support their long-term stability including mental health and alcohol and drug programs, benefits programs (health insurance, food, employment), etc.  Staffed with clinical and non-clinical representatives from County Agencies and community non-profits, the Care Pods will provide an array of needed services in a one-stop model.

How many days a week?   One day a week, but no more than three days a week per established MOU.

Services offered: Showers, referrals to social services, referrals to mental health and alcohol and drug services, limited scope medical services (vaccinations, TB testing). There will be free hygiene bags, clean underwear, clean towels for drying, clothes when available for both men and women.

Request for Duration of Permit:  Through 12/31/2020

SPIRIT of Santa Paula will be provide volunteers at the site but the County will provide the nurses and registration process linking the attendees to the HMIS, Homeless Management Information System. This tracks the utilizers of the healthcare system. In fact, we are close to getting two of our disabled seniors into permanent housing because they were already in HMIS.  We are soon to be trained in the program.

We are very excited to bring this much needed basic service back to our residents. Jill Wallerstedt has worked with the Showers of Blessing program in Santa Barbara and will be leading the Santa Paula effort on behalf of SPIRIT of Santa Paula.

The impact of the Thomas Fire on the homeless population was largely felt in the poor air quality. We provided masks and were able to keep them indoors for some of the daylight hours, but they were sleeping and breathing it all night.  They didn’t lose anything in the flames, their habitat can be almost anywhere and they know that the majority of people who lost their homes can get another one. They watched intently on television and were engaged in the sights and sounds of winds, fire and equipment. We had a huge source of fresh water bottles. I can count on them to recycle! I am attaching a chart showing the cycle of emotion following a crucial incident. It takes a year so we have many days ahead to be kind.

Mental Health Clinicians have been very attentive to us at Many Meals and the Drop in Center. We have had a fair share of high energy incidents at Many Meals and two of those were caused by people in great need of high levels of care. One is now in a treatment program and unfortunately another one is in jail. I can only help there is an outreach there so his re-entry back into the community is a gentle one.

Christmas is here, along with the continued requests from parents for presents. It’s almost a full time job. A number of really good people have stepped in and offered to take care of a family, instead of scattering the donation.

We have missed the food from the cafeterias within the Santa Paula Unified School District. School has been out for two weeks and will not resume until January when the air quality is safer and Christmas vacation has ended. SPIRIT board member and past president, Dawn Bavero, will be leading the effort to perfect our food rescue system. A meeting has been called for January by Dr. Levin of the Ventura County Public Health Agency to pursue a concerted effort to rescue food and diminish the organic material going into landfills. The program will be called “Waste Free Ventura County”.

Our menu tomorrow is Cheddar Cheese and Chicken casserole with and bacon and cheese sauce casserole, ready-made cole slaw with ranch dressing, slices oranges, buttered carrots from Garman’s Pub, roles and butter.

Our meals are always nutritious. Schools get points when their meals reach a certain level of protein and nutrition. We are mindful of the quality and character of our weekly meal.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, we thank you for being faithful to this work. If you shop Amazon, please us www.smileamazon.com and specify SPIRIT of Santa Paula as your designated charity.

If you can give a year end gift, please do so. The address is PO Box 728, Santa Paula CA 93061-0728.

Kay Wilson-Bolton, Volunteer Director

SPIRIT of Santa Paula

a 501C3 Corporation founded in 2002
Serving the Least Powerful and Most Vulnerable in our Community