Homeless Birthday Issue 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Job’s Shelters of the Sierra (JSS)

Yep folks, JSS was officially Incorporated Oct. 2007 and we got our IRS tax status of a 501(3)(C) non-profit in February 2008, that makes us about 3 years old legally. However, we were at work “illegally” years earlier 😉

Thank you to those who we grew up with us in caring for the homeless persons in our community.

We started out spending the nights at the United Outreach winter shelter facility at the Camino Church under the direction of Raz. Then we worked very close with Art Edwards when he took over when Raz left. Working with Art in the many facets and problems of homelessness in our County and attempting to fill those needs, we settled in our niche to the problem as being a suppler of the many needs of the homeless population. Socks  were the main beginning of our supplies to the homeless population. I passed out socks. I was proudly known as the socks guy. Remembering my own needs and desires when I was homeless, I found that socks provided dry feet, warm feet, and the elimination of a very, very, stinking part of clothing when removed 😉 Socks were a savior. Blankets, tents, toilet paper, and all sorts of clothing became staple in the van for distribution.

Food was another need that was being filled two days a week by Cold Springs CC under the direction of Frank Gates. We knew that the other five days of food were necessary, so we called a meeting at Foothills UMC of those I had made an acquaintance with. When I mentioned the need for providing food to the encampments and gathering places, Mike Parr said “I think I would like to do that.” F.A.I.T.H. is born. Mike took off running and has not stopped–adjusting the locations for providing food to our homeless population as they change with the seasons and political climate at the time. After 2 years morphing in with Frank Gates food distribution, that is 730 meals put together and delivered by un-paid, dedicated, volunteers who have food for the homeless in ED County. Cold Springs CC, who started first, then Foothills UMC joining in, still provides food around the lunch hour, and in some cases is the only meal a homeless person might have in a day. Every day. The “Upper Room” provides a meal every day at their fixed location in the evenings, and has been doing so for 8 years. Bless them all.

There are and were others doing many different things touching the other demographics of homelessness. Mothers with children for example, and at-risk elderly people. But nothing for the single homeless persons on the streets except for Dana LaForce and Rich Meacher and a very few others trying to provide for those in need. We found our niche as suppliers of necessities to that population.

Frank of Cold Springs CC, Mike, and I from Foothill UMC as well as other church groups, attempted to get a winter Shelter started 3 years ago but ran into opposition from County government and community. The seed was planted a ripple forms. We did get in two nights last year and I believe that started a wave that set the stage for the introduction of Bill Roby and the Community Resource Center to finally organize the CRC under the direction of Rene Evans and the foundation that Mr. Roby directs, beginning in the last half of 2010. WE welcome that inclusion. We now provide 7 nights at 4 hosting locations. Next year other host churches? Passably Rolling Hill CC who are working with JSS hosting at Foothills UMC on Wednesday nights will be an addition.

For JSS legally and “illegally” to be involved with the single homeless and at-risk citizens of our County for four and half years, as I was reminded by my wife, is a pleasure. To be the persons in the camps and meeting places where our homeless reside is as down-to-earth as one can get. Thank you Mike, Frank, Art and others for this ride though the story of life.

Each of you who read these issues of “Homeless Issues,” and get involved with donations, time and energy, love and prayer, we say HAPPY BIRTHDAY! YOU MADE IT ALL POSSIBLE!

Thank you for allowing me to reminisce on our beginning and how we got to where we are as I remember it.