HAS February Newsletter 2021
Well January has passed and we still don’t have a winter shelter. We worked hard with the Alliance Church but in the end it was appeasing the neighbors that shut us down. It is so difficult to learn that this town doesn’t value humans as much as they value dogs and cats. Waiting is. I am looking forward to being able to start the seminars again. The hospital is down to the 84 year old for the vaccine! Yeah!!
Many good things are happening. The website, hassonoma.org is coming along. We now have a donate page set up so we are ready if any of you want to donate your stimulus checks that you don’t need.
The BBQ’s are still going strong. We are set up under my solar panels for bad weather days and have been serving hot soup and chili. It is fun, and so good to see trust building. Can always use help for those: a desert, appetizers, and beverages are always needed. My juicer broke down so I can’t be making the fresh juice that is loved every week. Anyone have a juicer they are not wanting anymore?? The BBQs are on Sunday at 1PM these days.
Bob Khan is doing well with the furniture. You can see some of the things he has finished and are for sale on the website. I am planning a HAS Benefit yard sale as soon as I can be sure of good weather. My garage is full of his stuff, need to make room, and Bob would like to make some money!!
With winter and COVID “little bit of everything” is slow on work but Amber now has a truck to use and is able to take hauling jobs as well as her landscaping and housework. They cleaned my yard and garage of all the stuff I no longer wanted and what a lovely feeling it is to get rid of stuff, and so easily! Call her if you need lightening 707 309-8539.
The Be-friending is going well. We have volunteers working with medical appointments, Ted is helping a young man study for his driver’s license, I have a young man needing help to get his GED, there is another young man who heard about Ted and wants to be next in line. (I haven’t asked Ted yet but it is fun and I make awesome pancakes). We had a young man with some legal issues which we have worked with him and got all that behind him. He now has a drivers license, a car, three jobs, and a relationship with his daughter. This has been a real community action. He accepted the help of our life coach, therapy, and his mentor, now he wants to mentor!!
My kitchen is in desperate need of reconditioning. There has been a young couple, Sam and Shayla, who come over about three times a week to make meals. Sam has a job with Quick Haven but for now very part time. I get them food from the foodbank where I work twice a week. They have been coming to my home for a year now and cooking meals when they can’t get to The Grange for the free meals. They are trying so hard to get out of homelessness and are clean and lovely. Does anyone have a spare kitchen they could use? A guest cottage or extra kitchen? I will vouch for them and HAS insurance would cover any problems. They need a place to keep their food and cook on those days.
Sam also needs a phone so he can communicate with Quick Haven. Would anyone sponsor him for a phone? Right now I get the work messages and have to go find him to deliver. They are so close to success, and it is such a struggle when worried about food and phone and living in a tent. Quick Haven should be up for full production in a few months and he would have job security and be able to take on his bills. In a few months my kitchen will be usable again and I would take them back in a heartbeat.
Therapy is ongoing and “bless her heart”, one of our volunteer counselors has just asked for a third pro bono client! She really likes working with the homeless and their very real problems. She thanks me!!!!! Other relationships are growing and I see changes.
The store is booming. My garage has become well known for having what is needed, thanks to your generosity. We got a slew of wonderful winter coats and raincoats that came in and went out. We are set for now with toothbrushes and toothpaste, razors, and deodorant. Can’t keep men’s socks and underwear in stock. Also need men’s tennis shoes and boots. Blue jeans also come and go quickly. There is a woman who has contacted me saying she is opening a free store and I am hoping that we can come to an agreement that she takes it all over. But, for now I am happy to have my garage store. A lovely many from Bloomfield called and asked if we wanted furniture moving blankets. I thought they would be great for the winter shelter as sleeping pads so he brought me 40 of them. Unfortunately they are sitting in my garage but are slowly going out the door as they are very warm, washable, and great for tent lining and sleeping pads.
Barbara Lemme, after much work on her part has sealed a deal for insurance. We are getting more official by the moment.
Although we haven’t given up on winter shelter it is time to refocus on the big picture of ending homelessness in Sonoma. We are talking to Quick Haven a new company in Sonoma that makes easily assembled small shelters. They have hired Sam a young homeless man to work on assembly. Sam is so excited and when they get up and rolling he is looking forward to getting established. He now wants to study with Ted to get his drivers license!!! Hope is such a wonderful thing. Quick Haven has found a site on 8th Street for their production. Should be up and running soon. They have put us on the list for early options so we need property to put them on to get our facility going.
HB has found an architect to do pictures of our dream facility so we can get our sales package together. Very excited about getting the package together so we can get it out to the community and build support. It has been a busy and frustrating year but with COVID what else do we have to do? Find property that is acceptable to the community, raise enough money to build the facility, keep the programs going, and still pounding the pavement looking for winter shelter.
Good things have happened even though we did not get a shelter. We have good communications with both Susan Gorin and Logan Harvey now. They have both been supportive of our efforts. Being the new kids on the block it has been difficult explaining why we are doing what we are doing, when there is SOS in the town. They do wonderful things and feed lots of the hungry. They get the people, who are willing, slots in shelters in Petaluma and Santa Rosa. We believe that the sons and daughters of Sonoma who want to stay in their community are entitled to, and with a hand they can be productive members. Educate, Integrate, Innovate, and Create. Thinking outside the box!
Next month we hope to have the “package” together to show you all. We also hope to have the Share Program going. It is on our website but needs to be sold door to door. Any volunteers? It is a program where we ask all professionals in town to provide for one client. Hairdresser takes one client for a year, restaurants feed one client once in awhile (to be determined) for a year, lawyers, therapists, accountants, teachers………………… Clients need services, but the push is to get the communities to know each other. We are all human beings deserving of respect and love. Without that respect and love between the members of one community no amount of money can end homelessness. Still determined to be the poster child. With cooperation everything is possible. Please help.
Years End – Homeless Action Sonoma, Inc. (HAS)
It has been a crazy year complicated by COVID. We have had some failures and some successes.
Now for a day in the life.
Ted Nordquist and I work at the Redwood Empire Food Bank and we bring back food for a few people like Amber, who have a home but not a car. One evening I brought the boxes to her camper van, and she yells “come on in I’m cooking”. Gary was there, a homeless man who lives in his truck, an IHSS worker whose client died. I joined him on the bench and we all got talking, food is smelling great: Heather and Daniel arrive, squeeze in and without missing a beat Amber makes plates of food for everyone. It was the most lovely dinner I’ve had in a long time. Even squished and balancing plates on our knees. The feeling of family, food being valued, conversation was real and the food eaten with gratitude. It is not the size of your home: it’s the size of your heart!
What we have and what we need.
We now have a P.O. Box 482
We have an unfinished website you can look at hassonoma.org
We have a bank account.
We have applied for insurance.
We need winter shelter – once we have insurance we can get hotel vouchers and hand them out. It is an expensive way to go but better than letting people freeze to death. (although Jim told me if you stuff your clothes with newspaper is insulates pretty well.) You can’t rent a room without either a credit card or insurance, so giving out cash is nice but when it doesn’t go for a room don’t assume they are doing drugs instead.
We need someone to finish and maintain the website.
Need men’s coats, boots, shoes, socks. Sweatshirts, toothbrushes, shampoo, and handwarmers.
We need more mentors – the be-friend program is working well. We have matched four with four so far.
Need someones to sell the “Share Services” program. Form is on web site. Need to ask all professionals in town if they would take one client – pro bono – for a year. EX. A barber – one client for haircuts for a year. Restaurant – one person gets a meal once a week for a year. One doctor, dentist, lawyer, etc. To provide unattainable services to the needy and to form relationships.
Need office space in town. We have outgrown my house.
Need a truck for Ambers business that employs homeless.
Need someone to sell Bobs furniture.
Need someone who knows how to put pictures of Bobs furniture on the website.
And, Yes, we need money.
Need you all to have a very lovely and safe holidays.
Wow, it has been quite a few last months. We have made lots of progress towards the big picture. We are now a full fledged 501c3 with a P.O/ Box, a website in progress, soon to be insured, with an awesome board of directors, a treasurer, a bank account, and many programs that are doing better than I could ever imagine. Even with COVID precautions, we are moving forward. I want to start by thanking everyone who have contributed to the cost of the BBQ's. Thank you Katherine Couteaure, Deb Cambell, Harry Boon, Maria Abedesco, Anea Kamehele, Connie Bennett, and Jane Robb. I was looking Sunday at the table and there were 10 homeless and 5 sheltered people all having a lovely time together and you would be hard put to tell who was who. As it should be. We went through 6 racks of BBQed ribs, potato salad, macaroni salad, green salad, chili, pitchers of juice, cream puffs and more. The great part was that everyone participated, I was not feeding the homeless, we were all having a BBQ. We will do them in my yard as long as the weather holds and Covid reigns. Would love a space with shelter to keep them going??? Ideas???
The store I have in my garage for the homeless to shop at is doing well. Thanks to Pat Severson, Jill Kamehele, Connie Bennett, and Ted Nordquist. Everyone loves to shop and really good stuff has come in. We do need razors, deodorant, shoes, and wash clothes. And always socks.
The furniture refinishing is coming along great. We now have 3 barstools, a dining room table with 6 chairs, a bench and two small benches, a very small chest, and soon 4 beautiful antique cane seated chairs. We have sold 2 adirondack chairs, 2 bar stools, and a coffee table. We will be putting the rest on nextdoor and our soon to be website. It is lovely to have Bob (the furniture refinisher ) arrive and say "I'm going to work now." He does lovely work and has a purpose and an income. Hopefully he will soon be housed.
The BIG immediate problem right now is winter shelter. There are about 20 people in this community that have no shelter at all. They sleep outside, maybe under a bridge or in a doorway. They are vulnerable to many things but for now the weather. I can't seem to understand why a town as affluent as Sonoma cannot care for these few people. Once we get insurance (hopefully by next week) we can try to get hotel rooms for them. We would love a building, church, hall, to put tents in so everyone is socially distanced and has a private space. There is a church in Bend Oregon that did just that for 40 homeless in just one day. It is a matter of attitude. If we continue to think of these members of our community as "other" or "criminals" it gives permission not to help them. Now that I have befriended many I realize that they are human beings, just like me and no more dangerous than my own family. Please find it in your heart to keep these 20 people from dying of exposure. We need a space to either put up small homes, or heated tents, or a building big enough to house them or houses to put them in or hotel rooms, or, or, or. People tell me that it is the government's job. I have talked with Susan Gorin who heads the task force for winter shelter for the county, so far no ideas but to move them to the shelters that exist which are not in Sonoma. Our people don't want to leave Sonoma, it is their home, it is where their families are, it is where their jobs are, it is where they live. I have talked with Kathy King of Sonoma Overnight Services, and asked if they were doing anything and she told me, no, that they were letting Susan Gorin take over winter shelter. I asked if we could work together to help our people in need of shelter and she said no. I don't have her experience but I sure can;t let people freeze to death, so I am asking all of you to put on your thinking caps and help me find a solution. Harry Boon is once again asking the churches to help. I am working with QuickHaven, a small home company start-up in Sonoma but I don't think they will have houses available for this winter. We are looking for property or a building to put tents in or on. Empty stores, empty houses, we will take good care of them I promise. What else???? Synergy works. Please send ideas.
We are having trouble getting speaking engagements. We have a seminar all planned out to give and can't seem to get a venue. The Vintage House says yes but keeps putting off the date. Any other help getting speaking engagements??? As we have talked before it is very important to get out the information on why there are so many homeless, who they are, and what can be done besides warehousing them.
The plans for the facility keep getting fine tuned. We are in need of property. 2 or 3 acres would be perfect. We want to build a facility like Homeward Bound in Navato. It is transitional housing that addresses each person's needs and develops a program to fit the individual. They have a tremendous success rate of moving people from the street into conventional housing in less than 2 years. Pretty awesome, and would be much easier here. Our homeless are fewer and our resources are bigger. Win, win. I will put our proposal on the website next week.
We now have a bank account, a P.O. Box # and a 501c3# so if you would like to donate we could sure use the money. We need to find winter shelter, maintain a website, finance the facility, Harry Boon priced out heated tents and found it would cost about $200/night for two large heated tents, cots, porta potty, and utilities. We could charge on a sliding scale/ person and it would be very doable if we only had property to put them on
We have also outgrown my living room and need an office space, I have asked to share The Haven office space as the building is not being utilized for more than showers and laundry a few hours a day but I was told no. Anyone have office space they would share?
We now have 5 homeless with pro bono therapists. We have four people "befriending" individuals. That means having coffee, arranging medial, help getting benefits, transport to doctors appointments etc. Really are some lovely relationships being formed. The BBQ's, the furniture refinishing, and the jobs to get people working are booming. There are more than 10 of our unsheltered now working at least part time, a lot of thanks to Amber Gill. She has named her business "a little bit of everything", and advertises on Nextdoor. That was a mobile home purchase that has really paid off. Thanks HB.
We would like to do a Christmas Meal. Any ideas for a location? A Barn, A tent, somewhere with a little protection from the weather, I am thinking it can't stay this lovely all winter!
Thank you all for the support, the clothes, the cakes, the volunteering to be-friend, every little bit helps.
May you all have a wonderful Christmas,
HAS Homeless Advocacy and Solutions. (trying out new name, what do you think)
Sonoma, Ca. 95476
P.S. Our Secretary Connie Barrett has been interviewing our homeless and writing up these interviews for publication. They are sweet pictures into the lives of these people, humanizing the homeless. Watch for them.