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
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