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.
THE HASS NEWSLETTER
Check in for updates regularly