December 2023 Newsletter.
Another month goes by already. As you have all been inodiated with “The Giving Season” I hate to bring it up, but we are in dire need. So, if you have any giving season left in you………I found that if you have an IRA that needs to have a withdrawal you can withdraw and if you give to a non-profit you pay no taxes. Also, with tax season around the corner you might need a deduction???
To date we have housed twenty-seven people in permanent housing. Two families (7), 2 into permanent supportive housing, I think 15 into senior housing at Siesta Way, and 3 more with vouchers, coordinated entry, and friends of HAS. It is the bottom line and makes me incredibly happy.
The Village is running great. We now have showers and laundry. If the weather is good tomorrow, we will wash all the sheets, take showers, get new Pajamas (donated by Sebina Cesar), and take pictures. I have even agreed to wear my pajamas and come for the photo opportunity. We are gelling as a community, and it is beautiful. One of the residents who has been on the street forever told me he has never seen a shelter that has become a community that wants to succeed. The clients take ownership.
That said it has been a rough month in other ways. We had a resident die from cancer. She at least got to die in the hospice room at the hospital with her family and friends. We had a father of two of my staff die at home with hospice. We have another nonresident client dying from neglect: at least we got her to the hospital, so she is with her family as I write. We had another client that needs surgery who is back at the village being cared for and another was just taken to the hospital in an ambulance today. And the last. that I know of, is a client was in a terrible auto accident, was in a coma for a couple of days and has recovered. We are doing what we can to give support at this time. Needless to say, the community is reeling. This evening was lovely as JoAnn (a volunteer who is also a therapist) came over and did a grief session for all, and it was lovely to see the willingness to participate and we were all helped. There is a lot of grief in the homeless community for all the losses they have sustained.
Tomorrow we are having our first communications seminar for staff, board members, and clients. One major problem we have encountered is the difference in ways to communicate and we are anxious to decelerate anger from just the way we say things.
My staff is working overtime and I have just hired Marie Koller to take over some of what I have been doing. I have been so busy with construction and the Village that I have neglected Grants, public speaking, and my volunteers and supporters. Now I have appreciated you more than I can say and now want the opportunity to communicate better.
As soon as construction is finished: we are presently digging up Hwy 12 and hooking up to the city water and sewage with appropriate size piping. This is the last big hurdle (well except for the final inspections by the county.) We will then decorate for the holidays and have a BIG open house on I believe the 17th. It will be early, 11 AM start, so you can still get to whatever Holiday Party you are attending. We will give tours and have questions answered and I hope hot chocolate and snacks. The landscaping will not be finished but I have quite a team who will be decorating.
I feel truly blessed by how many of our community has donated furniture for the newly housed, have donated toilet paper, paper plates, cups, and paper towels to keep us going. Winter clothes and sleeping bags for the nonresidents who come through every day. We have had at least 4 newly homeless people a week coming in for services. They have been like deer in the headlights not knowing what to do or where to go. We desperately need a housing navigator. We are also in need of board members, please call if you can give us your time.
Everyone of our residents has increased their income, with part-time jobs, and EBT cards. They are buying food and cooking for the community. All but three are working with Hanna Mental Health, and they are getting the medical care they need through the SVCHC. Thank you, Alfred! Dr. Groef continues to be the dentist with the most pro bono clients. You and Gina are amazing and the Sonoma Professionals Share award for the year.
The floors all needed to be replaced, due to wrong product use for shifting floors not on a foundation, and it has been a good thing as once clients moved out and then had to return their belonging to their homes fewer things went in and the rooms are much improved. I think everyone passed the inspection this week!
We have had to hire a caseworker to work Siesta Way to help the clients get oriented to living in their own apartment. The smiles are fabulous. The man who has been panhandling for years outside of Sonoma Market is so grateful and happy that he and his wife how have a safe place to live. These are the stories I wish you could all see.
People ask me why spend so much money? Someday I will have time to pull up the statistics, but as I have known from other studies what we save the community in ER costs, arrest and jail costs is more than I spend. Also, from my perspective to offer a life to these human beings is priceless. The lifespan of someone homeless is 20 years less than a housed. I have 156 clients and only one is older than I am. I am 73. Startling.
Happy Holiday to you and yours and be grateful for all you have. It is only a trauma away to make someone homeless. Also, know that you cannot live on $16/hour working one job in Sonoma. I have done the studies and $22/hr. is the minimum pay in order to not have to work 2 or 3 jobs. Food for thought. On minimum wage, working 2 jobs your chance for an illness increases by about 50% and if you are living paycheck to paycheck it takes very little to become homeless. These are the newly homeless, not alcoholics or drug addicts, but I would bet, after a year on the streets, they will be one or the other.
Hope to see you all on the 17th to celebrate with us and see the Educate, Innovate, Integrate, and Create works.
Thank you as always it cannot be done without community support.
PS We need a good vacuum cleaner.
Thank you so much for your continued support. Who would have thought? The Village has been open for almost 4 months and a lot has changed. It is really a village with the tenants taking charge, relearning to make decisions as a family. They have elected mayors to take care of the chores and small issues. I am thrilled not to have to mediate small things like who isn’t picking up their dog poop!
Now amazing things are happening. Before we opened in June, we got one client into Permanent Supportive Housing through the Coordinated Entry Process. This has grown beyond our initial expectations! This is where they get their own apartment but there is someone to look in on them every day. So that is 1. We had another client at this time get a voucher and he found housing on his own using the voucher through Coordinated Entry +1=2. We had another client in the process to get Permanent Supportive Housing and about a week after he moved into the Village he got housed. +1=3. We then had 2 move out because they did not want to work the program, sad. Another client got a voucher through Section 8 +1=4. Another client we have been helping, not in the Village, was able to save enough to get himself a room. +1=5. Doing our homework we found that Siesta Way was about to open so we went through our list of 156 clients and everyone who had the right age and income we helped them fill out the application, got them the papers they needed for the process, paid the application fees and let’s see, this week I know that 12 have been accepted, +12=17 The family of four we had been working with for months finally were housed here in Sonoma through a Coordinated Entry Voucher +4=21. My young boy who we put in rehab is now housed in a Sober Living Facility and has a job. +1 =22. We are now the only case workers in the Valley so we can refer to LG Village and presently have 4 people who just must finish the paperwork and they will be sheltered at LG. So, yes bragging, but not bad for the first 4 months.
In all seriousness the program works. Treat people with respect and give them hope and they will rise to it. Treat them like lesser, lock them in and don’t expect them to be trustworthy, then I believe it is human nature to act as treated. Right now, I am sitting in my office just to make sure it stays quiet because Baker and Cook is having a fancy dinner evening, and I don’t want anything to mar their dining event. I have asked everyone to stay away from Baker and Cook, no noise, no dogs, no smoke, and it is lovely. We are working as a team.
We have a man here who has been camping by the creek for the last 5 years. He is a hoarder so even with that in mind you can’t imagine what a mess it was. We tried to go with the Ecology Center to clean it up and the camper was very disturbed that we were going to throw all his stuff away even though he had moved into the village. He had a bit of a breakdown, so Ecology Center left, and we all regrouped. I talked to the Village telling them he was having a tough time and needed support and we gave him more time to get used to the idea he was going to have to give up his camp. Two days later he came to me and said he was ready and thanked me for giving him time and told me the Village was so supportive that he thinks he can be happy here and we can clear the camp. It took us a week to bag and haul all his stuff away. Hanna Center was happy to have it gone and paid the dump fees for us. We had volunteers from the Village and homeless community do the cleanup. What a wonderful effort.
It hasn’t all been roses. We have had issues. We have had to ban a few people who were coming in off the streets and causing trouble. It is getting cold, and people want help, but to come in here drunk or high just doesn’t work with a community trying to be sober. We are not always successful with sobriety but in four months there will be a lot less abuse with our clients. AA is being well attended. A few of the community that do not drink are attending AA because it is fun. Go figure.
The programs, thanks to Ted Nordquist, are going well. Most of the clients are about finished with Stage 2 of the Village program.
Right now, most of the people who we are housing don’t need job training, or career counseling. As they move on, we will continue working with them in their new homes. Right now, it is mostly trips to medical facilities. Anyone wants to volunteer to give rides we could sure use the help.
It is fun as well. We have gotten tickets from Transcendence, from the Community Center, from the Sebastiani Theatre, we are forming agreements with the gyms to take clients. We are planning classes, in yoga, dowsing, arts, and maybe even dance. We are talking about a walking group.
My friendly tenant Linda goes walking around the neighborhood picking up trash. The neighbors are now greeting her and saying thank you.
Our biggest problem is we just can’t seem to get the construction finished. The bathrooms/laundry/showers are close to finished. That will be wonderful to remove the porta potties once and for all. We still must connect to the main sewage and water lines which means tearing up the street which means coordinating with Caltrans. All complicated. We have been given a date of November 18th to be completed. Hopefully we can have a huge holiday open house and I can finally show off our beautiful Village.
Thank you so much for your continued support. I know the article in the paper makes it seem like we are financially in a world of hurt. Yes, it hurts, but not enough to not press on. You have kept us afloat and moving forward. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.
One of my clients just came in and gave me $50.00. He said thank you. Wow. He is a little old guy on SS.
Thank you one and all,
September 9, 2023
The contractors are working on the new bathrooms and fences and gates. We will have a grand opening as soon as they are finished. Can’t wait to show you all that we are doing.
The most successful part of the Home and Safe Village is that the program is working. The 20 clients in the Village are happy and working hard on their programs. Our focus now is to get everyone healthy and mental health evaluations. It is problematic as with only Medical it is difficult to get complicated health care, and without health insurance it is about impossible. We have one client who broke his leg 3 years ago and it is still infected and not set properly. We finally got him to a specialist who said, “without better insurance I recommend you just have it cut off.” No kidding. I have gotten him reassigned and will be visiting a new team of doctors on Monday: this time we will go with him and record what is said. He is an amazing human being and has taken on the role of “Mayor” of the Village. This self-governing really works if you just give people the chance. The tenants have asked us to do some of the Sunday dinners themselves. They are willing to use their EBT cards to buy the food that is needed. Lovely to see. Last Sunday was their first go and they served 44 people in style: with pride. Our philosophy is to have as much self-governing as possible, and it is working. Tenants are patrolling the creek area nearby to keep it clean and protect the neighborhood. They have repainted the bus stop that had been graffitied. (They thought it reflected badly on the Village). They are walking around the neighborhood and picking up trash. They are keeping the Village Clean and Safe.
We now have 4 case workers and could use more. One is working with clients who have legal issues. She goes to court and probation appointments with them, and it has helped their relationship with the Courts. We have received kudos from both probation and the court system because of this. We are also working on a relationship with legal aid to learn more about the rights and responsibilities of the homeless. We have a volunteer attorney helping a client with a civil case that has been going on for 6 months because the client did not know how to proceed.
Another of the caseworkers is spending her time doing follow up with the clients that have moved on to housing. Two of them are very ill and have been put in Permanent Supportive Housing. They still need a familiar face that they trust to help them navigate a new town, new doctors, and living in an apartment. She is also doing outreach with many of the 65 clients not in the village. They still need to get health care, EBT cards, Medical, SS, and IDs. If we can get these all done before they move in, it makes their progress so much faster.
The third caseworker is handling the walk-ins. The sad news is we are getting at least 4 a week of newly homeless clients. If that many are coming in how many more are there who have moved elsewhere? It seems that with COVID freeze on rents lifted, prices have gone up and people are not making enough to stay housed. It is statistically interesting as we do intakes and are seeing these are clean and sober people, without any criminal record, no court cases, and no chronic illnesses. I am looking forward to compiling these to prove that homelessness begins as a purely financial issue. The negative is there just not affordable housing, and many will later turn to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain of homelessness.
The fourth caseworker is also a caregiver, so her strength is to take care of the clients on property. They are the long-term homeless and all have medical issues. She keeps track of their meds, their appointments, and helps with the plans to move forward. We are now working with about 70 homeless in the Valley and for 4 caseworkers, is a reasonable caseload. I foresee more will be needed as we grow.
We are making a lot of staffing changes as we are growing both in numbers and as an organization. This has created a bit of chaos, but good chaos. We have two new people who are working to improve the structure and streamline the process. Kourtney is our new Operations Manager, taking care of the day to day, and Yohki is my streamlining genius. She is getting us programs that will make grant reporting easy, as well as scheduling and payroll. These two women are telling me to bug out and let them run things. Very good sign.
We need to get the volunteers working. That is important. Yohki was going to be my volunteer coordinator and then I had to go and hire her. She will be looking for someone to take that on. Organize the volunteers and find what they are good at and get them engaged. We desperately need volunteers to give rides to doctors’ appointments, DMV, EBT, SS, and various other things. We have one client who needs to go to a wound doctor in Santa Rosa once a week. He is a cute little old guy who isn’t ambulatory enough to take the bus and walk from the bus stop.
One of our people is working at Lucky and needs an inexpensive car. If you know of such a thing, please let me know. He hasn’t worked for a year yet but has been promoted and is doing the job well. We have counseled him to start with an inexpensive car that will last a few years until he is on his feet before he gets into making car payments.
We are still very interested in education and would be happy to speak at any event, group, or cocktail party. There are still people in Sonoma who don’t think we have a homeless problem. Call me if you can do this. 707 304-0502
We need a commercial size sink. Desperately need running water for cooking and cleaning besides the hose that we have now. Anyone remodeling has one to donate?
We always need paper products. Hygiene products, bed pads, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, cups. Now we have the storage shed, thanks to Shir Shalom we can store them safely.
We have gotten a matching grant for up to 100K. So far, we have about 34K that has come in to match. Please help with that. We have only two more months to raise the remaining 66K. That is only about $150 from each supporter on this newsletter.
We have gotten some lovely donations from the community, and we thank each one of you for thinking about us. It is amazing how many people are supporting and helping. If anyone would like a tour before the grand opening, please call me and I would be happy to give you a tour personally. 707 304-0502.
My kudos this month go to the tenants of the Home and Safe Village. They have even surprised me, the number one believer, by taking ownership of this program and trusting and hoping. One tenant who had been homeless for 20+ years told me for the first time he can remember, he has hope. Kinda makes it all worthwhile.
As always, we need the community to make this work. We need your heart, your belief, and your support.
Thank you, Annie.
July 23, 2023
I don’t even know where to begin this newsletter. So much has happened and so much good has happened, and we are moving forward at lightning speed. Wow. To be on property is fantastic and I am hoping to have a grand opening in two weeks. TBD. The contractor is still working, and we haven’t got the office completely moved over but it is happening, after such a long wait. So standby for the grand opening notice. The Home and Safe Village is lovely, the clients are working towards success, and we can measure a bit of success already.
The bad news is that I am working too hard and took it out on my Board last week. Being in the trenches daily, trying to prevent any mishap, I take it personally. I go to the Board meeting with normal life people and just don’t understand why they can’t read my mind and know every little thing that I do. Thanks to some understanding members I got the counseling I needed and promise to do better.
In the Village, we first took in the ill, the elderly, and the women. One client who we found housing for is very ill needed a place to stay until his Permanent Supportive Housing apartment becomes available in two weeks. So, with this problem facing us we went to the members of the Home and Safe Community and asked their opinion and one man says he has a place to stay for two weeks, and the ill man can have his home until his apartment is ready. WOW. Already acting like a community.
We have housed the family of four I have written about for so long. They finally found a lovely home here in Sonoma owned by a man who would take the voucher for a fair price. I asked him why he was renting so reasonably when he could rent for about twice what he was asking. His reply was, “I want to help, and greed is not healthy.” Lovely man and thanks to members of a local church which donated for move in costs, they were able to move in right away, well right away after about a year of homelessness.!
Another thing that has happened is that we are getting 2-4 new clients every day. I guess the word is out that this is a good place and HAS is actually helping people get services and housing. Building trust, building community, Educate, Innovate, Integrate, Create. Yes, it works. I have had to hire another caseworker and am looking for possibly even another. I have hired an operations Manager to free up my time a bit. I have wanted him to work for me and he had said no in the past. Just when I thought I was never going to find the right person he calls me and said, “I want to work for HAS.” He is the right fit for this program now. I am also looking for an Executive Director and a secretary/administrator. I am hoping for another miracle come September as I have asked an ED to work for me for two years now and maybe by then she will be ready.
Today we had the electrical inspection, and it went well. Hopefully we will get the temporary inspections done this week. Once that happens, I will be doing as many tours as there are people who want to have one. Please call me and I will arrange to be there myself if you want a tour.
You have all heard the saga of the ADA bathroom that wasn’t ADA for Sonoma California. So, we had to send it back and now are in the process of building our own. We didn’t expect this, and we did not budget for this. Somewhere we must find 150K to get these bathroom/shower/laundry room built and usable. Right now, we have porta potties (you can imagine how they are in this hot weather) and the Redwood Gospel Mission Mobile Shower unit visiting. Now, they are great, but in this hot weather showers more often than the mobile unit visits would be so much appreciated. I am asking you to come for a tour, see the lovely Home and Safe Village we have built and find it in your heart to help us get the shower/bathrooms/laundry built.
The Congregation Shir Shalom on Sunday brought over about 6 cartons of very useful items. Toilet paper, paper dinnerware, shampoo, laundry soap, hand sanitizer, Epsom salts for feet soaking, socks, and some cosmetics which the female clients are so happy to see. Those are a luxury you give up when poor. Thank you Shir Shalom for all you do, it takes the community, and you are a shining example!! I have gotten a call from the woman who donated the cosmetics and she offered to come do a make up day for the women. We are all excited. I can use the help!!
We have become the recipient of the Scott Evans Grant recently. Thank you so very much for believing in HAS for two years now despite all our delays. It came in at the nick of time as I was starting to worry about payroll this month.
We are growing so fast and so many people need for services I can see soon that we will need to continue hiring to keep the quality of services up and avoid my caseworker’s getting burnout. They are a wonderful team of individuals who truly care and will spend an afternoon walking in the creek to find a client. Instead of giving them each more and more clients we need to continue to provide a reasonable ratio of clients to caseworkers so we can continue to know each client: in that way we know best how to help them.
My lovely boy in rehab is still working on the program, faithfully, looking for a sober living situation for when in gets out in about 12 days. He needs a deposit and the first month’s rent until he can get a job.
A homeless father came today to tell me he has talked to his family, and he can move back home with his baby. The mother had left, and the child was going to go to foster care. He is going to court to get custody and with his family support this may just work. Time to grow up, he said. We have been working with him for a few years and he wanted us to know that made a difference.
Thank you volunteers. You are so great; the Sunday dinners are amazing. 54 people attended on Sunday a nice collection of housed and homeless and Village clients. Relationships are being built and friends are taking people to their appointments, getting them to health care, DMV, EBT, SS, the store and the coffee shop. Building community.
Another client is trying to start his own business, he came to a board meeting, presented his idea and was able to get some funding for it. Standby for a success story. My fingers are crossed. It took courage and trust for this client to make this presentation. Building community and hope.
What we need.
I know there are lots of nonprofits and they all do good work. Your donation can only be spread so thinly. We are presently overwhelmed financially with the over costs of the construction and now the increase in clients we are seeing daily. But so, rewarding. One of my elderly women residents just came to me and said: “I have good news I want to share with you. I just went to my doctor and my immune system is working right again, my blood pressure is down, and I am sleeping again. The doctor says it is amazing. Thank you, I am not dying.” That is by being safe and with hope, for less than one week. Where will she be in a month?
My man with cancer and aids, who was a hoarder at his camp keeps his room nice and tidy and just walks around smiling all the time.
The client from the plaza has quickly settled in and is a kind and gentle man again. His imaginary friends seem to be gone, hopefully that means he has found community here.
Two men with demons will start counseling soon by a local group which has volunteered counseling for a year. One we have offered a job to if he sticks with it for six weeks and makes progress. He is excited.
We have been forming relationships with other portions of the community. We now have a good connection with the Sonoma Valley Hospital, The Sonoma Valley Community Health Clinic, Align Rehab Center, the Police Department (special kudos to Chief Brandon Cutting). We are working with the Hanna Center, the Community Center, Transcendence, F.I.S.H., Pets Lifeline, SOS, Bon Marche, Love Coffee Shack, the City of Sonoma, 76 gas station, Shir Shalom, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Whole Foods, Sonoma Market, 7-11, The American Legion, The VFW, HeeHaw Coffee, the Democrats Club, the Rotary’s, Marys Pizza, The CPP who lends us their beautiful space for meetings, The Garden Club, and many more (I hate doing these lists because I always forget someone). All the wonderful volunteers, the many people who drop off food, toiletries, and clothing, my Board, my Advisory Board, the regulars who are here every Sunday for dinner and friendships, Dr’s Forstadt, Groff, Halliday, Boynton’s team, attorney Bill Shea, SSDI specialist Michael Jon Bithorn, the neighbors and all the well wishers I hear from on a regular basis. AND of course, my staff who don’t always agree with me but keep the message strong, and me on track!
My special call out in this letter is to Amy and Andy who run the Cup of Love Coffee Wagon by the 76 Station. They are kind and welcoming to everyone and believe in the power of love.
With much gratitude,
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc, hassonoma.org, 707 304-0502
To donate funds or items, please visit us at www.HASSonoma.org
I have been putting in 12-hour days then wondering why I am tired. It is so exciting to be close as well as so frustrating. The Home and Safe Village is looking good and taking on a personality. There has been a crew of homeless clients working harder than you would imagine. They are so happy to be part of the process and to be treated as valuable to the process. Steve Jaca, the contractor, has hired a few of them and wants to hire others. Amber, who works for me and is a woman who can do anything, is running my crew. She is much like Steve Jaca in temperament, and they walk the same way. My crew calls her “little Steve” and his crew calls him “little Amber.” They are both flattered!!
So, we have the houses done, the fire safety done, the water in, the tent up, the electrical about finished, the ADA access paved and ready, the dog run built, and I keep waiting for the occupancy inspection. First the fire inspector said that we needed to finish the driveway and parking spaces before they will sign us off (first I heard of that), then we are told the outside lights need to be on solar sensors, (first I heard of that), then I am told before opening all signage must be up and in braille as well (first I hear of that)……………………….so I wrote to the County and to Steven Telleria and asked to have in writing all things we need to have done before we can open. It was looking good as I read the list until I came to #8 which said we also need to contact the Planning and Permit Department for any other items. (You know that noise that they make in cartoons when everything just doesn’t work)
So we are back to not really knowing. I have reached the point where it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission. So, I am looking at moving clients in on Sunday and in a couple of weeks have a grand opening where you will all be invited with the brass band, balloons, and flying pigs!
We have had 2 Sunday dinners at the tent, and it feels so good. Clients are proud that it is their space, and it just feels so much better. It breaks my heart to show them the units and then send them back to sleep under the bridge. Somehow there is a disconnect here. Do we really need braille signage to open?? We had rented a portable bathroom/shower unit. It was ADA approved for the United States, it was approved by the County: then the inspector came on property and measured the unit, and it was, I believe, only 4” too narrow, even though it could accommodate a wheelchair with a full 360 we had to send it back. While waiting to build our own units (started) we are planning to use porta potties and the Redwood Gospel Mission Mobile Shower Unit. That has opened another can of worms. This time the inspector said OK, and the County Permit Department had many questions. So, we wait, and wait. In the meantime, the bathrooms/showers/laundry that we are building has added another 150K to the cost.
Everyone wants to know about the first clients who will live on property.
12. Lisa is another elderly woman, very vulnerable to abuse that keeps finding her. She is scared and worn out from being constantly afraid. With a safe place with a door lock she should do better.
13. Jess is a younger woman who has survived by total guts. She wants to have a normal life and we are hoping with a safe place and counseling she will be good for rehousing.
14. Steve is a veteran who has veteran issues, PTSD, and poor health. We will work with Veterans services to get him all his benefits and some stability. Being a veteran, he should be easy to house.
15. Chase is a young man who has been homeless most of his life. Has mental health issues and we are working on getting him disability. When he is clean and sober, he can control the mental health with diet and meds. Needs a stable living situation to get this to happen. Once stabilized he can do some job training and possibly get off disability. The disability will be a good stopgap for this young man as he must learn how to live housed.
16. Kevin is an elderly man who has been on the streets for a long time. He is a nice guy and had the usual issues from long time “living rough”. Once he is settled, we will ask him what he wants as well as do an evaluation for health and behavioral health. Right now, he suffers from PTSD and a month of safe sleep should help that.
17. Mitch is a young man who has suffered from mental illness most of his life. He wants so much to be accepted, is clean and sober and with our Memorandum of Understanding with the new Hanna Center Mental health hub we will get him the help that he needs and move him into the work force.
18. Raul is a young man who works in the vineyards and has a family in Mexico. He is hard working but does not make enough to support himself and family, so he lives rough. We will work with La Luz to move him forward.
19 Anthony is another young man with a similar story to Raul. Same program.
20. Ed is an elderly man who has many health issues. He is just too worn out to be on the streets without help. We will get him evaluated and see what we can do to get him stabilized and get him disability so he can afford elderly housing with IHSS services.
All our first clients have been homeless for many years. Many for 20 plus years. They were chosen by consensus. They all want better. No one wants to live “rough”. It is shameful that we as a community have allowed people to be homeless for so long. The problem is that without technology, without a phone, without an address, without transportation, it is impossible to take advantage of the services available. They have been robbed of their ids, drivers license, well, any identification at all. We start with getting them a birth certificate and work up from there. We will get them a medical evaluation, so we have a base line ready to move forward. We have them all in the County Coordinated Entry System which is a way to eventually get them housed. We have a very long waiting list of people waiting to be housed in the Village or through Coordinated Entry. We will be working with them as well getting them their basics to move them forward as quickly as we can.
What we need.
Thank you all for the great support that this community is showing us. We have always believed that without the support of the community there will be no success.
Annie Falandes Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc. email@example.com 707 304-0502
May 6, 2023
We are on property, and it is still raining. So, discouraging but the infrastructure is mostly complete, the small houses are on property and being finished, and the first bathroom-shower combination is on property as well. Still too much to do but it is starting to look like something.
We ran a successful warming station for four months and came in way under budget as to what other facilities are paying for similar services. Including the salaries for the project manager and program manager, the four months cost us 120K. The problem is that was the money I was saving to get the small home village up and running. I spent it expecting some of the grant money we have been awarded would have reached our bank account by now. We have received 375K from the County of Sonoma and 50K from the Catalyst Fund and Impact 100. None of that has been awarded yet. That leads to my problem as we presently have $1,991.83 in our bank account with payroll coming up at the end of the month which with all the cuts, I can make is still $8,100.
Let me tell you some of the good that came from running the warming center. We connected with 140 homeless individuals from the Sonoma City Area. We served 15-40 per day. We had 10-15 cars belonging to homeless people in our parking lot instead of parked in various neighborhoods. We enrolled another forty clients into the coordinated entry system which is the start of getting them housing. We got many clients the basics: id’s, ebt cards, medical, help with legal problems, visits to the DMV, medical help, and showers for the working homeless. We had the Redwood Gospel Mission shower van arrive in the late afternoon, once a week, so all could shower. We had the Mobile Medical van at least once a week to connect people to medical services. We got 3 clients with diabetes stabilized. Many of what we did cut down crime in the Sonoma City Area, use of the emergency room, use of police services and cut the cost of arrests and jail usage. The best part is that we have contacted 140 of the homeless in this area and can continue to collaborate with them on housing. The statistics were interesting. Approx: 67% male, 14% female, 27% Hispanic. 45% work at least part-time, many work full-time (approx. 12%) Everyone needs mental health help, and most have some medical condition needing treatment. We were able to do three interviews with the 20 who are going into the Home and Safe Village and most of them have gotten the basis done. (ebt, medical, id.)
Client ZJ has been hospitalized for a very serious infection. JG and OG have been hospitalized for heart disease and diabetes, GM has been hospitalized for various neurological issues, MS, MC, FM, CG, AG, GG, CF, have had dental work, JS is in rehab, DC, AG, GM, have all gotten housing vouchers, CA, JM, RM, HS, SQ, are working for HAS, CA, JG, AW, DF, are all disabled and we are helping them through the SSD process, CY is in trade school and housed, there is a crew which is on property working made up of clients, and so many have hope. And yes, it is not all good. Three clients are presently in jail, and two more are out on bail, one with new teeth was in an altercation and has his jaw broken, another was in an automobile accident and will not be walking for quite awhile. We are in contact and helping where we can, they are no longer alone. To get on property and have a real office, and real location for people to go to will be amazing. We have had these 4 months to know that what we are doing: EDUCATE, INTEGRATE, INNOVATE, AND CREATE, works.
There are grant writers working for us to apply for County and State funding. We have volunteers applying for local grants. In total we have received 775K from the County, privately we have raised over 1 million and have a 2 million $ loan. To date the construction has cost 2 million for all the infrastructure, permits, houses, and furnishings. We have spent, since conception, approx.: 800K in operations expenses which include a staff of 2 caseworkers, 3 outreach workers, administrator, Program Developer, Project Manager, site manager, 2 site monitors and office space. Although we did not have to pay for the facility for the warming station, there were the cost of utilities, garbage, fencing, and sewage issues. Much of the maintenance was managed by the clients, which was a great savings. The homeless are incredibly capable of fixing things without needing lots of tools and money, for which I am very grateful.
So, drive by the site, look at the village in its pretty colors and if you would like a tour give me a call and I would be happy to arrange one. As a community I have been incredibly grateful for the contributions from so many of you which have cut costs considerably. So many individuals and businesses have donated clothing, food, and other useful products. (i.e., toilet paper). Most of all we are grateful for those of you who have donated your time and expertise. Someday I will have time to make a proper list and include all for publication.
So, for those of you who had doubts that we would actually get on property and told me you would be inclined to donate when we are: now is the time we could really use a bit of a boost.
Thank you so much,
Annie Falandes and the homeless of the Sonoma City Area
As a community we can end homelessness.
Dear Friends of HAS,
It has been a REMARKABLE last four months. We did it. We opened and executed a successful warming center/navigation center. We have a real community. There have been approximately 130 people who have been in for services. We average 15-40 per day. We had a few problems at first but when the clients understood that it was their center and their individual needs being addressed, we all started to work together. We have worked hard getting them the basics. EBT card, medical, id’s, help with legal problems, medical help, showers, and most important trust. The outpouring from the community has been amazing: food, clothing, office supplies, paper products, job opportunities, and volunteers to just help with the everyday stuff. We have a working relationship with the police department (had our first Coffee with the Cops meeting) All this and more has created the beginning of being one community.
On every other front we have made progress. The Home and Safe Village should open soon. I will not even speculate as to a date as I have been wrong so many times before, but if you drive by it’s starting to look ready. The houses are ready and just need to relocate once the land is finished. So extremely exciting! The only sadness is that we can only take twenty residents and the rest are back on the streets.
I have found amazing statistics. Approx. 30% are working homeless. They have been so grateful to have someplace to rest, eat, and be safe. I have three lovely young men who leave 5:30 every morning and get back 5:30 every night. They are grateful for the showers provided by the Redwood Gospel Mission in the evening so they can shower. Simple things. There is always food for them thanks to the generosity of our community. All this will be going away for all our clients, and I wish we could continue but alas there is no space to use and no money to fund it. I will keep looking.
We have gotten a grant from the Catalyst Fund, two from the County, and have applied for many more. Thanks to our grant writers BJ Bischoff and James Whittaker. Bravo. I know this is demanding work. We have another grant pending with Impact 100 who we have the final meeting TOMORROW!
Once we move, we will not have the space for the clothing store, so I am asking you to continue to donate but bring it to Bon Marche as they have agreed in return to let our clients shop there. Please tell them that it is for HAS. Bon Marche has a variety of items, and they have capacity. We will continue to appreciate the food that you have most generously delivered and will take at the new Home and Safe Village. We will have BBQ, microwaves, and toaster ovens. We are also moving the Sunday BBQ to Maxwell Park starting this Sunday and then to the Village when it is ready. As always, they are open to the public and we are delighted to share our Sunday dinner with all. It is great for integrating and now we have music and storytelling; it’s really fun!
We are working hard to fill the two big holes in the homeless services: mental health and permanent housing. We have included these two areas in the last grant we submitted to the County, but the need is great. We need volunteers to help us navigate the housing system here in Sonoma, and peer counseling leaders for our peer counselling.
We are working hard to find the financing for the permanent facility. It will be great when that work is done. I might even be able to take a vacation!! Imagine that.? It is a long tedious process dealing with State Grants. We are trying to find a group to hire who has experience running such a project as we have only the 4 months of running the warming center and as the grants are on a point system, we would get more points with such a partner. Although after these months with the warming center I know we are on the right track.
Ted Nordquist is busy developing a number of varied programs. From ones you would expect such as AA, NA, counseling, financial planning, and life tasks, we are also exploring arts, crafts, machine shop, computer skills, yoga, meditation, and so much more. Any ideas you have would be welcome, especially if you volunteer to lead a class. The clients are willing to participate and learn.
We have had some failures. We have three clients in need of medical care such as respite. We have been caring for them at the station and now there is no place for them to go. Two are diabetics who cannot seem to get it under control, and one has diabetic, epileptic, and liver problems. I am worried about their lives and am looking for a place to put them with care. Ideas?????
I have learned that meetings are a way of life when you are trying to do social service and I spend about half my time in meeting with the County, COC, CDC, Sonoma Mental Health, The Homeless task force, BNL task force, and so many more I can’t even think of their names. It has heartened me to know that there are many people out there trying to do a process to eliminate homelessness. I am more convinced than ever that it will take community participation to accomplish this.
So, ending with the ask. We cannot make payroll this month. We are about 6K short as of today. We will need volunteers once we are on campus to help with running the programs and facility. We still need volunteers to take one Sunday to make and serve the Sunday dinners, now at Maxwell Park and soon to be at the new Home and Safe Village. We need to find respite beds for our three members who are ill. We need therapists to counsel and to facilitate peer counseling meetings. We need jobs for our clients, of whom many are skilled, willing, and able to work. We need all kinds of Sonoma Professional Share members such as auto mechanics, dentists, doctors, therapists, artists, lawyers, and beauty consultants.
Thank you for being such a great community and supporting the warming center. It has been a remarkable experience for both the clients and staff, and volunteers. One of my volunteers called me and chewed me out for closing the warming station. She felt so strongly after working there for these few months that she could not see how these human beings could be put back on the streets when it was so easy to create a safe place for them. I agree. But to do that we need money and space for them. Dave Jefferson has been extremely generous letting us use his building, but he now wants to move on and we are out of funding to keep a station going. Would love ideas to open somewhere else. It would take more volunteers and an adequate space.
I will let you know when the Home and Safe Village is up and ready for company. We will have a grand opening party.
Thank you so much for your continued support,
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org 707 304-0502. hassonoma.org
Another month has gone by already. Wow. The rains are killing the site preparation, but it has been lovely having the time at the warming station. I have been able to try out the HAS concept and the response has been amazing. We have had more than 120 people come through the station for services and there are about 15-40 per day. We have created a community with very few problems. Thanks to SOS we can pick up meals from the Grange, so the clients always have something to eat as well as the generosity of our Sonoma Community. Daily there are donations of snacks, drinks, sweets, clothing, and paper products. All very much appreciated.
My project manager tells me the retaining walls work great but without being connected to City drainage, yet we have a very large swimming pool. It needs to dry so we can put in the final trenching for the utilities. When that is done, we can move all finished houses onto the property. So, timeline, best guess is two weeks of dry weather. So close yet so far.
Sundays are even more fun than before. Thanks to Todd Evans and Company we now have music on Sunday evenings along with dinner. The diners are a good mix of the Sonoma Community, and the food is fantastic. Faye Mellos has been recruiting different organizations and individuals to take on one or two dinners a year. Really fun for all. If interested call Faye Mellos at 650 444-7560.
Ted Nordquist is now the Programs Developer, and he is working like crazy to get things up and running. We have a lovely man Michael who is an expert on Social Security and has been helping clients 3 days a week with that. We have a retired nurse coming in to soak feet and address foot fungus. Bill Shelilien and Sylvia Bertrum are developing a Peer Counseling program. We are getting AA and NA on property, looking for gym memberships, movie tickets, and classes at the Community Center. Thank you all who donated bicycles, everyone who wants one now has a bicycle! We will have grief counseling and hopefully soon Hanna Center will have their mental health facility up and running. That is what we need most of all.
We have one client who cuts down trees for people and when he gets the firewood, he sells it. He offered to make money for the center and brought the wood over to sell on the street and divides the money between whoever helps him. Great idea, I thought, and so nice to see them all working together. What I forgot is that my use permit does not allow the selling of anything on property so that enterprise had to go until we get on our property. So if you need any firewood please come by and help take it away!!! For a donation as we can’t sell.
Did you know that to get Social Security Disability there is a 64-page application? Wow that would discourage me. Which is why I am naming Michael Jon Bithorn our volunteer of the month. He is at the station 3 days a week working with clients helping them get the benefits they are entitled to but are unable to access. Daunting work. A lovely man who has moved here from Florida and was looking for something to do. Glad he found us. Michael Jon, a very big, sincere, thank you.
I have almost completed the third interviews for our tenants entering the small homes at the Home and Safe Village. They are so excited and thrilled to be chosen. It is a great range of talents, ages, and personalities. All are fully vested in making this work as a community. I am looking forward to moving to the Home and Safe Village and watch their progress.
My dear friend Sabina Ceasar has volunteered to get pajamas for our new tenants. For some of them not sleeping in their clothes will be a first in many years. Think how nice it will be to take a shower put on your PJ,s and slip in between sheets…………………things most of us take for granted. I was talking to the Hebrew School children yesterday and what came to light is that what homeless need the most are the little things: acceptance, a smile, privacy, a way to stay clean, respect, trust, and community. Kids are so smart, what happens when we grow up????
So, if the City renews our use permit we will be a few more weeks, AGAIN, at the warming station, until we get a few weeks of dry weather. This has been an expensive undertaking but so far every month, the Community has pulled through and we make payroll and utilities. The contributions of clothing, food and supplies has been amazing. In the evenings we do jigsaw puzzles, play cards, board games, and watch movies. Pretty fun. Someone donated a 3000 piece puzzle and that one is a real challenge, on day 4 now!!
Is it all rosy……………….of course not. There are the ongoing stories of loss. Things get stolen, friends OD, eviction notices are received making more homeless, medical issues abound, and mental health is to date untreatable. Do we have issues with alcohol and drugs? I would be lying if I said no but I can say it is not the massive issue I expected addiction to be. Trust and respect are a formula that works. My fear is for the client who crosses that boundary and is disrespectful to the warming center. I fear the rest of the clients will make sure it doesn’t happen again. There is huge pride in having a place of their own.
We have BJ Bischoff and her staff Sarah doing our grant writing for us. We were up for a $300K grant from the County. The last step is to be at a meeting when the grants are awarded: mandatory. These have all been on zoom the last few years, so I logon ten to and no meeting………………….by the time I find out that it is only live and in Santa Rosa I am panicked. Sarah Stirech, who works for BJ says, “I can get there”! She rushes out in her PJ’s, no bra, no hairdo, and races to Santa Rosa to get there in time to accept the $300K for Homeless Action Sonoma. My hero!!!! I have the best team ever!! We have a meeting with the Impact 100 organization tomorrow and are hopeful they will help us fund some mental health help through a grant we will share with Hanna Center. James Whitaker who is Chairman of the Board has been taking on the local grants. Kudos to James, I know it is long hard work. Keep your fingers crossed as mental health care is the #1 need in the homeless population.
So, I always wrap up with what do we need.
Thank you so very much, I can’t do this alone, I need the community.
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc, email@example.com 707 304-0502
Oh, what a month it has been. We had the BEST of Christmas Presents. Dave Jefferson who owns the property that once was the Community Café has allowed us to use the office space in the back for a Warming Station/Navigation Center until our Home and Safe Village is built on Hwy 12. We are at least another month behind. The construction crew got COVID and then the trenches flooded and had to be pumped. We are still working away but missed the Christmas deadline……. yet again.
But we are open and operating at 867 West Napa with our Navigation Center/Warming station. Our clients have a place to go to work with the case workers as well as get out of the rain, take yoga classes, read, watch movies, get medical help. It is fabulous due to the work of my “elves”. Special thanks to all who worked to get us up and running starting with Sandra Lowe, Lisa Janson, Wayne Wirick, Doug Fryday, Dave Hall, and Trevor Smith who got us through the permit process in record time. Then the cleaners, Maria Colin, Amber Gill, Jessica Mansfield, came in and washed the place down from ceiling to floor. Now we needed furniture, and our Angel Carol Latimer came in and furnished and decorated the entire facility. It is lovely with a caseworker’s room, a meeting room, 2 meditation/treatment rooms, and a recreation room. We have a store and I even have an office. Carol, you are fabulous. Sierra Nadeau, Jerry Klenow, Marion Weinreb, Rabbi Steve Finley, Faye Mellos, Bonnie Brown, Jessica Mansfield, and Hector Gutierrez also contributed furnishing, signage, and supplies that we needed. Scott Braun and crew cleaned the entire outside as well as installed lighting and fencing. Then we have our procurement genius Patrick Favale who got us fire regulation ship shape, WIFI installed, and put up with me asking WHEN? Hector, our operations manager has been working overtime to obtain enough staff and get them trained, develop operating procedures, talk to the neighbors, and still manage to find time to collect more items. I love our staff, they are talented, know their stuff and willing to take on this adventure to end homelessness. I have always said it will take community support to end homelessness and we are starting to feel that support. Thank you all who have donated both with time, goods, and financially.
We are so happy to have a place to work with the clients, so they don’t waste any more time because we are not on property to work with them. Concentrating on basics such as id’s, EBT cards, Medical, and getting them all scheduled for a physical to establish a baseline health record.
We welcome new board members. Jerry Klenow, Gustav Gustavsson, Rebecca Rogoway, Osias Encarnacion, and Petra Longley. They are amazingly talented and very willing to jump in and get to work. Truly blessed as they just appeared when we needed them and have the talents that we were weak in previously.
The Sunday dinners at La Luz are holding steady at about 40 meals served. We would love to see more community show up. Friends are being made and the food is always wonderful. People take turns cooking and serving and eating. Come by 5 PM any Sunday for dinner with us. Really quite fun. If you care to take a turn cooking call Ted Nordquist to get on schedule 707 235-3986.
We are working with the County and BJ Bischoff to obtain Grants as well as local community grants. We will again be applying for Homekey Money from the state when it becomes available in the spring. That would allow us to start on the permanent facility which will replace the Home and Safe Village eventually
We have scheduled and cancelled the community painting of the Small Houses several times. Not ready for paint, rain, cold, COVID………………. all the usual. Stay tuned, we will get them painted in the colors of the Springs!
Busy as a one-armed paper hanger these days, hanging at the new Navigation Center/Warming Station. It just feels so good. Now we must figure out how to pay for it. We have enough money for about 3 months. Most of the costs are for staff and services. We are only paying for utilities and garbage. THANK YOU, DAVE JEFFERSON!!! Our costs are about 26K which include the operation expenses, 3 caseworkers, 3 monitors, operations manager, the administration office at 275 East Napa Street, and Valli, who keeps us all in touch. Many of the board members and volunteers have offered to take shifts to help keep the costs down.
What do we need?
With sincere gratitude,
HOMELESS ACTION SONOMA, INC. FOUNDER & PRESIDENT
HOMELESS ACTION SONOMA, INC.
P.O Box 482 Sonoma, CA 95476
November 2022 Homeless Action Sonoma Newsletter
General Update: It has been quite the ride these last few weeks. Getting on property and seeing daily changes in the infrastructure. Drive by and have a look. We are building walls and fences, putting in bioswales, and leveling the property so it doesn’t drain into the neighbor’s yards in the rain.
We hope to pour concrete this week, which is the big part of the job. If the weather cooperates there is a chance we will have an amazing Christmas Party. The tenants will need help assembling furniture, and moving in. I will let you know when that is and we can make it a community event. We have hired Hector Gutierrez, former Project Manager for Horizon Shine Village in Sebastopol. He has been busy interviewing clients for the village and establishing a protocol. We are so fortunate to get him on board.
Winter Shelter: With the rain and cold here many people are exposed to the elements without shelter. There is no shelter in the Sonoma City Area at this time. Last year there were hotel rooms for the worst of the weather days, but there is no funding for hotel rooms this year. We are working with SOS to coordinate those who are willing to be housed in Santa Rosa or Petaluma. For many, lack of shelter means trips to the ER to treat them for exposure. We urgently need winter shelter, at least until I can get the houses on property and up and running. I have asked everyone I can think of if we can use an empty building, open up the Haven again, use the Community Center, use the Veterans Building, open the churches: and there are many reasons but the bottom line is always no. My contractor says that we could put up our dining tent on the property and make it a warming station. Of course now it needs to be approved by Permit Sonoma and they said no.
My heart is gladdened by those of you who have decided to take action. One of my board members is now running a F&B. (floor and breakfast) and another has offered up his guest room. Jeannette picked up the man lying on the sidewalk and tried to get him shelter, another person has offered her pool house and yet another has offered her spare room. A communal space of course would be ideal to serve all, but if we can’t find a communal space we have to use what is offered. Now I can hear the naysayers “Isn’t that dangerous and irresponsible?” All I can say to that is, I have been taking into my house for the last two years fellow human beings in need, and have never had a problem. If you can provide temporary shelter this winter please contact me.
What we need:
Special recognition: I want to give special recognition to Jeanette Scharich. This woman was driving through the Springs and sees a man lying on the sidewalk. She stops to see if he was alive, dead, sick or what. He was laying there on the cold cement because he had nowhere to go and was tired. She offered to take him to The Haven, thinking it was still a homeless shelter. Doors were locked so she brought him to the police station. They told her he had to go to Petaluma or Santa Rosa for shelter or she could just let him go in the park. She was surprised that was the truth so she called me and volunteered on the spot! I am looking forward to working with her. Thank you Jeanette, if everyone had your heart and understanding the world would be much improved!
Second thanks goes out to Jessica Mansfield and her family. She works for me as an outreach worker and is training to be a full on caseworker. She is taking classes and still tending to the homeless community. She does wellness checks, takes clothing and supplies to people in need, and her family also takes in people who need a place to stop and get warm. Jessica is the one who gets the phone calls saying someone needs a ride here, needs a meal, needs a coat, ran out of gas, and it is never during easy hours. Her and her mother Yvonne are making dinner this Sunday so stop by and have dinner and say hello to Jessica and Yvonne.
A shout out to all the volunteers, supporters, city council, and the not yet friends of HAS!
I am more positive than ever, that together, we can end homelessness in the Sonoma city area.
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc.
General Update: We are on property fencing, grading, piping, trenching, and so much more. No more waiting for permits. I actually got to drive the BIG backhoe and think I found my next career! Really fun. It should not be such a man’s world.
Great News: A very generous friend of HAS lent us enough money to pay off the land and pay for all the work needed to put up the village. It is so exciting. Now we are rushing to get it done so it will be a very Merry Christmas for the most chronic homeless in the Sonoma City Area. The other side of the coin is we continue to need financial donations to pay back the loan and for the day to day operating cost which we estimate to be about $900K per year. I know that is no small pill to swallow.
Client Information: The best thing that is happening is that the homeless are trusting that HAS is actually going to make this happen. They are coming out from the woods (all from the Sonoma City Area) to sign up and finally get into the system. In the last two weeks we have enrolled 26 new clients. My three outreach people have been busy and I am very grateful to Hunter Scott at the COC office in Santa Rosa for being there to help. That said, we can only house 20, but we will increase the wraparound services to now include 82 clients. This of course will increase our operating expenses as we will need to hire a few more case workers and a program’s director. Just think, about half of the known homeless in the Sonoma City Area are talking to HAS and trusting us to work with them. Wow, Pigs Do Fly!!
New Programs: We are so excited about the programs that are coming together. Many are new and inventive such as having a medical team that will be on campus once a week to speak to all clients about chronic ailments and how they can be addressed.
We are working with Bill Schelilien to implement POPS (People Offering People Support) which is a tried and true program for mental health care. It involves getting trained group facilitators to guide group talks. Safe, easy and a way to hopefully stop small issues from becoming emergency room issues. Or worse, suicide by police which was attempted this week.
We are working with the hospital and Sonoma Valley HealthCare Center to establish a protocol that works for our clients and will then cut down on the use of the emergency room. We are working with Andrew Henning, who is the homeless czar, on a team to collaborate about all homeless issues which includes, the hospital, the Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, the police department, the fire department, mental health service providers, and all providers of homeless services. How great will it be to combine resources and best of all brain power? I am a great believer in synergy.
Grants: We are in the process of applying for two county grants and a state grant. We will need this support if we are going to build the permanent facility and have our beautiful dream come true. Kudos to B J Bischoff for leading us through this process and much gratitude to Susan Gorin and Dave Kiff of the CDC for believing.
Community Support: From day one, I said this can’t be done without the support of our Sonoma community. Every day, I am touched by the goodness of this community. There is Bon Marches Anna Bimenyimana who has continuously clothed the homeless, allowing them to shop for themselves with dignity. She also hires homeless individuals and trains them in how to be a good employee. As if that isn’t enough, she also donates a portion of her profits from her personal coffee sales. Her Gorilla Coffee is fabulous if you like a very rich, spicy, smooth, coffee. I’m hooked!
A shout out to Amy and Andy's Cup of Love. Not only do they get high marks for giving coffee and food to the needy but they treat all with respect and kindness. Great coffee as well. Find the by the 76 Station.
Jeff Martinez of the 76 station for his kindness and the tankfuls of gas he donates.
Of course my Sonoma Professionals Share.
Because of donated dental services, 10% of my clients can now eat bagels!! How great is that? A patient of Dr. Forstadt had heard about the work she was doing for Homeless Action Sonoma. He complimented her then gave her money to take another client. That is big, the process is having a life of its own!!!
Dr. Toig will be helping us set up our onsite healthcare protocols.
Yolanda of Personal Imaged has offered to come to the Village as needed to do haircuts.
I have a grief counselor who will do grief groups, a yoga instructor, and a volunteer to do art groups.
Janet Yelner and her fellow artists had an amazing event and made HAS the beneficiary.
Chef Alycia Librie who has catered a couple of events for us and makes the best, yummiest food ever.
Jim Simpson with his knowledge of cars has been wonderful when I have called for assistance.
We now have Gibby and Frank from Cogir who are media/film people and have volunteered to “make the movie”.
Howard Sapper who has Puskpak tours spreads the word on the tours and has offered my team, a team building tour. He is also one of the first 10 people to commit to a monthly donation!
There is the steady stream of friends of HAS who provide our clients with clothing, blankets, pillows, hygiene products. I will name you all one day, just know you are in my heart. The list is growing every day. Thank you Sonoma!!!!
We need volunteers. We need a volunteer coordinator, someone to keep track of everyone who wants to help and can connect jobs with volunteers.
We need another laptop or two for the new office space at 127 East Napa Street. Stop by and say hello.
We need a refrigerator, folding tables, and a closet space for inside the tent. As the tent will also be meeting and group space it will have to be easily reconfigured. We will need desks and chairs for the onsite managers .
We need more house parties. There are still many in the Sonoma City Area who do not know what we are doing or even who we are. We need the whole community onboard to be successful. Have a small neighborhood cocktail party and invite on of my board members or myself to attend. Contact Valli to get a date to have a party. Valli 707 280-2420. (I think Valli probably needs a work phone as well.)
We always need tampons, condoms, and cell phones.
Painting The Houses: It is time for the artists to get together and plan for the painting of the homes in the colors of the Springs. Ted Nordquist is coordinating this area so if interested contact Ted at 707 235-3986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project Manager: We are hiring Hector Gutierrez, the Project Manager and Operations Manager who got the SAVS facility in Sebastopol up and running. We are grateful to have such a man willing to come on board. He will be starting October 19 working with my present crew establishing the employee handbook, the tenant rules, and further develop the programs we have going.
Tenants Selected: We have chosen the first 20 tenants already, by consensus. When everyone knows each other it is easily known who cannot survive another winter outside. The clients were great about it. I had anticipated complaints from those who were first in line not getting first in a house. Glad to be wrong.
Property Event: This Sunday we are going to have an event on the property. We will have the photo opportunity ground breaking by dignitaries. The grounds will be blessed by the Native Americans, a local Priest, and Rabbi Steve who will represent the Council of Churches. We will present the construction timeline as accurately as we can. We will talk about what it is going to take to be housing our clients by Christmas. It will be a time for you to see the conception of the physical project and together as a Community we will bless this endeavor. My wish is that every one of you would attend and that you bring a friend or two. That would be a dream come true for me. There will be limited parking on site. Please leave it for those who can’t walk a few blocks. Do not park at Baker and Cook.
Kudos: This month I want to acknowledge an institution that has been following the practices of good inclusive community behavior for much longer than I have been part of Sonoma. I think the finest place for kindness to all, inclusive behavior by all employees, and welcoming to all members of the Sonoma City Area is (drum roll deserving) the Sonoma Public Library. They are the kindest group of people who do such good things for the homeless,( as well as the housed). They treat all people like human beings. My clients tell me it is one of the few places they feel welcomed, and safe. They can use the computers, they can ask for help using the computers, they can charge their phones, they can use a very nicely kept up bathroom, they can hang out and not get chased out or off property, and my favorite is that there are free tampons in the bathroom. May we all learn from the Sonoma Library.
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc.
Agenda for Sunday October 23rd Event “Our Community Can”
1:00 - 1:30 Meet and greet. The Board will be available to talk with you. There will be snacks and drinks.
1:30 - 2:00 Representatives from the Springs, the City of Sonoma, the County of Sonoma, and the CDC will shovel the symbolic shovelful of soil and a few words will be said.
2:00 - 2:15 One of our clients will read a poem.
2:15 - 2:45 Native American Medicine Man, Father Alvin Villaruel, and Rabbi Steve Finley will bless the ground and the project.
2:45 - 3:00 Annie Falandes - President of Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc. will wrap it up.
Hope to see you all and all of your friends.
General Update: It has been three months since I have sent out newsletter. To those of you who like getting them I am sorry I have not been able to send. First, I got discouraged. How often have I said “We are waiting for permits to move forward” I am sure some of you stopped believing we will ever get them. And second, I sold my house on the east side, bought a condo on the west side: Bought, Sold, Moved, all in one month. Whee. I have got to say that the cat and I are very happy in a much smaller space in a more bohemian neighborhood, walking distance to the square and around the corner from coffee shop and a bar! What could be better.
Great News: We finally have all the necessary permits from the county after paying $35K and waiting a really long time. Once the contractor gives us his final numbers to do the work we will start grading the property!! The amazing part is we just might be on property before Christmas as I promised (Just a year later). The delay was actually good, as we have had time to get more of our other ducks in a row such as the operations side of things. Today I met with a very interesting/helpful man who was the Project/Operations Manager for the Sunshine Village in Sebastopol. He is willing to lend his expertise to us. I also talked to the new team that does data compilation and entry for the COC, VI-SPDAT, HMIS, and probably other acronyms I don’t understand. We had a lovely meeting and they are excited that we are getting on property and are willing to help however they can. We are working hard to form collaboratives with the other non-profits in the valley. This is really exciting as we have come to realize that we can save money by sharing. Everyone wins.
We have also hired BJ Bischoff who is a grant finder and writer extraordinaire! We are so fortunate to have her added to our team.
Client Information: Presently we are working with 56 clients. The young man with his grandfather’s truck has made real progress. One, it is out of my yard, and two it runs, and three it is titled!! Need to get it registered and to pass inspection. His friends Joe and Simon are helping him and he is learning to budget to pay for this. Another one of our clients is now housed and working. Sad news is that there is a gang of young men on bicycles who have beaten up three members of the homeless community. I think that the last time they were caught on camera as they beat up a homeless man in MacDonalds. Don’t know yet: standby.
Client Statistics: Working with Andrew Henning, the homeless czar, we came up with some interesting statistics.
· Of our 56 clients 47 have lived in Sonoma more then 20 years,
· there is only one vet,
· only 9 were willing to leave the Sonoma City Area for housing,
· they all felt that food was not an issue in Sonoma. These are the things we are doing well.
· about half the population used the Emergency Room and the SVCHC for medical needs.
· About half had an EBT card and Medical. These are things we are working on.
· 51 say they are not getting help for mental illness
· 45 are not getting help for disabilities
· 47 have other health issues they are not getting help for
· 44 have suffered or are suffering ongoing trauma
· All clients stated that finances were the #1 cause for their homelessness.
Making a Difference: Dr. Forstadt just called and will take a THIRD client through the Sonoma Professionals Share Program and the amazing Dr. Groff is on his FIFTH (or is it sixth?) It is truly remarkable the good these dentists are doing and how grateful the clients are. Noticed some really nice smiles at the BBQ on Sunday as well as these people able to chew which is big for health issues!!
One of our board members had loaned us the money to get the Home and Safe Village up and running. I can’t begin to express my gratitude. We will start serious fundraising once we are on property to start to pay him back.
Meal Get Togethers: The BBQ’s continue to be good. I can’t wait until we are on property and can have them there. That will be awesome!. We have been meeting at Maxwell Park for the warm months as who wants to be indoors at 5 PM on a Sunday? We give away a fair amount of clothes, Norcan and fentanyl test strips and food. I continue to get donations, thank you, thank you, thank you. I no longer have the big garage, I actually no longer have a garage at all so donations need to go to the new office for now. Contact Valli to coordinate delivery. 707 280-2420.
· I did a presentation at Cogir and it was wonderful to find how much talent is there and how many are willing to help. I am excited to be tapping this great source of volunteers. Thank you all.
· Valli is working on contacting all of you who have voiced an interest in doing volunteer work for HAS. Hopefully she can get a good data base so that we can use all of you more efficiently as we move forward into this construction phase.
· My life is 2-4 meetings a day. They are about learning, fundraising, grant writing, and pushing my poor Project Manager, Steven Telleria to get things done!! If there is a heaven he will go for not cursing me out on a daily basis.
In Closing: We are so much closer and my optimism is coming back. I need to thank my board for getting me through this hard time when I had lost my whole hearted belief and had to move all in the same month. It has been a very tough few months but I think we are through to the other side. Lets hope it is a good side! We will be having an open house once we are on property and I hope I see every one of you there.
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc.
Volunteer of the three months because she is so terrific. Sierra Nadeau. This young woman has to work for herself but finds time to put on a party for HAS, sell HAS to everyone she meets (and thats a lot) bring in more volunteers than the rest of us put together, do graphic design work for us, and every now and then dare to say "Annie, do it this way." That is the tip of the iceberg for what Sierra has done and we have invited her to do even more by putting her on our Board of Directors. Welcome Sierra and THANK YOU!!
The Dentists of Sonoma Professionals Share - A Salute!!
Can't begin to tell you how much it means to have the Sonoma Professionals Share Program. It is working. Today I would like to tell you about the dentists who participate. They each signed up for one client and they have all either taken a second, third, (Dr. Groff I think is on #4) . It is an amazing process and has worked wonders in so many ways. Chronic tooth pain is excruciating! An ugly mouth is debilitating. Tooth disease is life threatening. Our dentists have worked wonders.
1. Shayla - A young beautiful woman with wisdom teeth infected and painful. Terrified of getting them removed. Dr. McMahon made it painless. She now doesn't have to go to the emergency room every few months to get antibiotics to deal with the pain as there isn't any.
2. Greg - A lovely man whose dentures got washed away in the flooded creek which he was camping nearby. Dr. Groff made him new dentures. He now has his smile back and can sing, which he loves to do. He is an old song and dance man by profession. Greg also has cancer and has been having chemo and radiation treatments. He has lost a lot of weight. He is so grateful to be able to eat solid foods with his new teeth. He feels they have saved his life. He also looks years younger which appeals to his vanity!!
3. Maria - A young woman who has recently gotten a really good job. She is trying to prove herself and works hard wanting to get her and her children housed. Dr. Tom Halliday has been fixing her smile for which she is very grateful. Feels it will help her be more professional looking at work and help her present well when looking for housing. And yes, she is a young beautiful woman and enjoys looking pretty again.
5. Christine - Thanks to Dr. Groff, Christine is getting her teeth replaced and infections cleaned up. She was in pain and needed dental care. Christine feels it will help her get a job as she will be able to present well.
6. Chance - A young man who had mangled front teeth. He now has a beautiful smile and self esteem, Thanks to Drs. Forstadt and Boynton. He is studying to get his driver's licence, has his grandfather's truck he is restoring with help from Sonoma Professionals Share, he is working and thinking when he gets his licence and truck he will start his own landscaping business. Wow. AND, he now has a girlfriend!!!!
7. Barbara - Sunday night Barbara came to me with her hand over her mouth and said "look"! When she removed her hand she had a beautiful smile again. She was almost crying as she told me how amazing it was not to be in such dental pain. She had broken her leg, lost her job, and ended up homeless with chronic tooth pain. She says now she can think about other things besides the pain and how ugly she was. She is excited about getting her life together.
So, you get the idea. The program works on many levels. Tooth pain and infections are very dangerous, unhealthy, and so harmful to both body and soul. This program has given these and others a step in a good direction. They have a bit of hope, a bit of trust, and a bit of self-esteem returned. I can't say enough good about the dentists who are participating and looking forward to other professionals to salute!!
Article in the Sonoma Index Tribune:
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc.
May 2022 Homeless Action Sonoma Newsletter
● County Requirements Huge Cost Increases: If there is a time we could use a financial boost it is now. We were ready to erect our small home village in January. We had raised the project’s $800K cost from Grants and the Community. We were in the permitting process when things changed. The County would not let us on the property without doing the entire grading of the property for both the temporary village and the permanent facility we were planning to build in the future. This triggered Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA) requirements, which means we had to grade for the 100 year flood. Now it gets complicated. To get a grading permit for BASSMA you need to have design, engineering, and architectural plans complete for the permanent facility as well as the temporary. We hired a dozen experts and went to work. We are working with the water company, PG&E, Caltrans, Sewage, and the fire department in order to install the infrastructure needed when grading the property. We now need to build retaining walls, bioswale, fire hydrants, change the size of the water pipes and install a holding tank for sewage for an overflow in case of flooding. It is daunting, interesting, and very expensive. Our $800K project has gone to a $2.5 million dollar project.
These expenses were in our long term budget but not anticipated until we started the permanent facility. We have completed and submitted our grant request to HomeKey (State Grant). The grant request does include the above cost, but we don’t expect to hear if we will be awarded the grant until something in July. In the meantime we have spent most of the money we had acquired for the temporary shelter and are scraping by with daily donations.
● On a Positive Note: While all this is going on, we are still doing amazing operations work. We are seeing hope and trust in the homeless community due to our programs. With Community Support the homeless are building relationships and learning how to help themselves out of homelessness. Just one example that I am very proud of is that we have an unprecedented number of long term drug and alcohol abusers asking for rehab. I believe they have found hope. Another lovely indication is that a team of homeless people volunteered to clear the property for us. They worked for a week cutting trees and clearing brush, digging out trash, and hauling it all to the dump. Altogether they took 12 full trucks to the dump. They believe together we can succeed and want to help! We saved about $75K by having the homeless community do the work versus hiring a contractor.
● Making a Difference: We have 3 caseworkers on staff serving 52 members of the Sonoma City Area homeless community. That is a fourth of the total number, now on the road to success. Think what we could do with a facility, proper staff, and a fully funded operations budget. We are working in collaboration with many of the Sonoma Valley Nonprofits.
● Working Together : We have joined with 14 other Nonprofits to receive a County Grant to address mental health. We are in discussion with the City of Sonoma to receive funding from them. We received a unanimous vote of support from the Sonoma Valley Community Advisory Commission. We have held 3 neighborhood informational meetings and have received amazing support. The Springs is a very generous and compassionate community. Thank you.
● Fund Raising : I have attached our projected spending through November and as you can see we have quite a large deficit. I am wide open to any fundraising suggestions. Below are some ideas I have. If you can act on any of these items or are just willing to help with fundraising please contact Valli Viera at email@example.com or call me 707 304-0502.
Wineries could commit the proceeds of one or more days of wine tasting to our project.
Hold one or more neighborhood yard sales with HAS as the beneficiary.
Everyone receiving this newsletter could send our Go Fund Me information (https://gofund.me/dd17f501) to all your friends and family telling them you support this mission. If everyone on this list brings in 100$ that is $30,000. Wow.
In Closing: Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc. has a 4 pillar approach: Educate, Innovate, Integrate, Create. We have proven the first pillars essential and successful. Now we are anxious to Create a transitional facility to “end homelessness in the Sonoma City Area, make the movie, and franchise the concept.” We have a filmmaker interested, and we have two sites interested in the concept already!
Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc.
The Below projected balance sheet for the next eight months is attached to give a clear picture of what we are facing.
Volunteer of the month is Doug Loskot who edits and makes this newsletter attractive. He also is my tech support when I have computer issues: even when on vacation in Hawaii. Thanks Doug!!
THE HASS NEWSLETTER
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