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!!