The Beggars at the 10th Street Off-ramp
Published: January 11, 2013
By Kay Wilson-Bolton
Director, SPIRIT of Santa Paula
To those who have handed money to people who stake out their spot at the bottom of the 10th street off-ramp, I know your intentions are to offer kindness. If food was really their goal, they know where they can get plenty. Sadly, your cash is their ticket for their next beer or drug fix.
These enslaved souls will not get off the streets until there is no more money for their next fix or hit and no way to get some. Drug addictions are fed by funds. Please don’t help them stay on drugs by giving them money to buy them. You can carry McDonald’s coupons for food if your desire is to give them something.
Sadly, the local winter shelter was not opened this year. We sponsored it for three years thanks to El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church and Iglesia Dios 7. Most of those who are homeless today were homeless last year, and the year before. This won’t change until they run out of options and have nowhere to turn but up. It’s called “hitting bottom.” It’s a real place and often necessary. Those who are chronically homeless in Santa Paula choose homelessness in exchange for their drug use -- on their terms. We also stopped the summer shower and dinner program for the same reasons.
Dozens of homeless people and families, due to job loss or other personal tragedies, have found real help through the local non-profit, The SPIRIT of Santa Paula. We continue to be the connection they need to stay sheltered through our transition home and the drop-in center at the First Christian Church at 821 Railroad Avenue. They receive socks, clothes, blankets, personal items, soups with pop-top cans, snacks, water and great affection. We collaborate with resources outside the City and often refer our people to them and help, along with other organizations in town, to provide utility and rent assistance.
Our local homeless and hungry folks know they can get hot meals every Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church and there are at least three food pantries in town. We cannot serve, in the same way, those who choose drugs first and at any cost.
If you want to help, make a donation to your favorite church or charity and build up the resources that can make a difference. Another new resource opening this spring is a counseling center to help people re-direct their lives. For more information, call 805.340.5025. Trained counselors, including graduate students at the Master’s College in Placerita will be joining that effort.
My view is not a popular one among some groups and I accept that. I have lived this 2008 since we found a local homeless man dead in one of our churches. It doesn’t make sense to simply make people comfortable while they slide through life to a tragic eternity.