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 email@example.com.
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!!