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
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