Journey's Homeless Shelter
From April 9-23, 2016, JCC is acting as a short term shelter for 12 situationally homeless guests in conjunction with Interfaith Shelter Network and 120 congregations throughout San Diego County. Our guest will be in daily contact with a case worker from Crisis House in order to facilitate necessary social services, employment search and permanent housing placement. 60% of the participants in this program countywide complete the experience by moving into their own rental space.
Our guests will reside in The Corner Room. Volunteers and life groups are supplying breakfasts, sack lunches and dinners, with many groups choosing to stay and share a meal and spend some time making connections with our guests. Arrangements have been made with the Kroc Center to provide showers, as well as transportation to and from laundry facilities. As of April 17, 2016, 143 Journey Volunteers have assisted with this venture.
Our guests have also joined in some of our activities and programs, such as Celebrate Recovery, Domestic Violence Step Group, Men’s ministry breakfast and attending Church Services. One of our guests has a baby she will be dedicating in next weekend’s celebrations, and a few are planning on attending the Baptism in spite of the fact that they will have then moved on to another church in the Rotation.
(names have been changes)
April 9, 2016:
The rotational shelter at JCC became active at 5pm today. Lorraine, Dave and I had the privilege of meeting our guests earlier this week at the previous rotation, so we had a good idea of the flavor of the group. One of the women came on the trolley last night to attend services at Journey. Our guest’s belongings were delivered by the coordinators of the previous church this morning.
The first person to arrive was actually one of our own: Steve Smith. His life group had signed up to bring dinner and Steve was slated to be an overnight host. Our guests trickled in and were obviously well seasoned with the routine. In a very short time they had dissected their own belongings, inflated their own mattresses and settled in. As this was happening, the rest of Steve’s group came in. They brought arts and crafts for the children, as well as 2 teenagers to facilitate and entertain said children. Along with a complete meal they even brought flowers to decorate the table. I can only describe the evening as a lively Italian Family dinner. There was laughter and bubbles and a warm sense of belonging. All of our guests participated except for “Bill,” who ate with us and then retreated to the safety of his bed.
Ami and Bill Fiskewald showed up to give our new friends a tour of the campus as scheduled. It was the LONGEST tour ever…J Our guests met Journey people, asked questions, shared stories of themselves; obviously felt very comfortable in Ami and Bill’s capable hands.
I LOVED the story of Steve’s life group. They began meeting this year with Leap of Faith, and have become as cohesive and loving as any life group unit I know. The group gathered last night to bake cookies to bring today, and treated each other as if they had been fast friends forever. They welcomed not only our guests into this comfortable haven, but also Lorraine and I. It is impossible to not enjoy their company.
April 10, 2016:
6am I was greeted at the door by Steve Smith. He told me the night had gone smoothly. I turned on the lights, called out a “Good Morning” and rustling began. Our guests knew all their beds had to be deflated and their belongings packed up as we had to empty the room for FPU. I brought Devon and Denis, and along with Steve’s help we loaded most of the stuff into Lorraine’s van she had left parked outside; the rest went to the Other Room. Room was vacated, breakfast served and lunches distributed by 640 am!
After second service Lorraine and I went to reset the room and unpack the Van etc. I was struck by the willingness of our Journeyites to step in. People who had been in the room for FPU as well as others just walking by, stopped and asked if they could help us. The reset went very quickly.
CAYAC had volunteered to serve dinner and hang out with our guests this evening. Kristy and Eric, with some of their group came over and invited our guests across to Encounter where Randy was serving his pulled pork sandwiches. I alerted Kristy to the fact that several of our group does not eat pork and she quickly went down to FX and grabbed some pizzas. NICE SAVE.
Much to our surprise, (both Lorraine and I thought the group would grab food and return), our guests sat with the group and ate for almost an hour. Among them were our overnight hosts for the evening: Rosalie and Jeff Martin. The Martin’s do not attend JCC, but rather are clients of mine at ISN. Prior to losing their home, they had acted as overnight hosts in our North County Branch. Upon becoming homeless they came to me for Rapid Re-Housing, but I actually placed them into the Rotational Shelter for 8 weeks knowing they needed to prepare for my program. It is now 9 weeks later, they are back on my radar for placement, and giving back to the community by acting as hosts.
Our expectant mother, “Brenda” found a place to stay for the next week until her scheduled C-section so she wouldn’t have to be out during the day. She came and collected her belongings. We will miss her and her 2 daughters; she remains a client of mine at ISN.
April 11, 2016:
6am I turned the lights on. Smooth night reported by our hosts. All of our guest’s meals are being donated by Journey people/life groups. I have to give a special mention to Lynette Shaw, donor of this morning’s breakfast. She took the time and hard boiled eggs AND peeled them, further individually wrapping them in the tiniest Ziploc bags I have ever seen. These were a HUGE hit. She also brought pastries, juice and fruit. Our peeps were very happy and even packed some to go along with the stellar lunches made by Rita Lusteg. Everyone was out before 7.
This evening was busy. Lorraine transported one group to the laundromat, another group headed to the Kroc center for showers while the rest of the group had a visit from Karina, their case worker from Crisis House. Karina is a force to contend with and she was on fire. One woman in the group was invited to exit the program for non-compliance, and several others were reprimanded for minor offenses.
Laurie Burns arrived with dinner and stayed and spent some time with the group. It was a little more scattered of an evening as there were so many moving components, but all in all a success with no issues. Overnight hosts were Pam Ribby and Karen Irwin.
April 12, 2016:
6am I turned the lights on. Pam and Karen reported a smooth night. Breakfast was served, lunches distributed. “Travis” shared with me that he was 55 days sober. He told me his story as I had mentioned the night before that I was in recovery and had spoken of CR. His is a classic tale of alcoholism and the struggles with maintaining a successful job married to the chains of addiction. He asked me if I listened to Johnny Cash ever and proceeded to play a song for me called “He died for me.” I was touched. Everyone was out by 7am.
Our guests came “home” this afternoon earlier than they had before with all except one back by 545…we ordered from a Taco Shop that delivered with funds supplied by Linda Hassad. A new guest was placed with us: “Nancy” and her 1 month old baby “Susie,” showed up shortly before dinner. Lorraine took them to the thrift store and bought them a pack and play for the baby as well as some linens/blankets as they had none. EVERYONE was excited that “we” now have an infant, especially “Tanya” and “Lea” the 6 and 3 year old daughters of “Dottie.
Dinner arrived and brought with it a very lively discussion about Mexican food. People’s favorite items, favorite restaurants, disbelief that the Mgr. of Lolita’s is going to act as an overnight host next week and the spiciness of the salsa. “Nancy” was an easy addition fitting right into the group. “Bill” is still mostly reclusive, although he did share with Lorraine at the laundromat yesterday about his heart issues and dislike of our hill he has to climb to get to JCC. I asked him tonight if he needed some cold medicine as he seems to have developed symptoms, but he said he was just recovering from pneumonia. “Donald” is our punster/class clown. He works for an empanada shop in Pacific Beach. He is very quick witted. We are finding that the guests are becoming comfortable enough with us to tease us. I like that. Overnight hosts are Robin Moore and Brandy Glensky.
April 13, 2016:
6am I did the wake-em-up thing, and then got the scoop from Brandy and Robin on the night’s events. Side note here: Robin is the daughter of Warren Moore. Robin returned to JCC in the fall of 2014 from a domestic violence shelter. Lorraine and I worked with her in our DV ministry until she disappeared early December. She resurfaced in early May 2015 in a DV shelter in AZ. She made contact with me a few days prior to her perpetrator/baby-daddy committing suicide on Mother’s Day 2015. She has been an active participant in our DV step class since then and attends church most Sundays. She wanted to give back and volunteer at the shelter.
The girls reported a smooth night except for the fact that “Travis” obviously suffers from some PTSD and calls/cries out in his sleep multiple times an hour. Brandy said the first one really startled her, but after a few cries she almost got used to it.
I was able to elicit a smile and a thank you from our taciturn “Bill,” this morning by bringing him a hot cup of coffee. First time I have seen him smile. Everyone was out by 7am.
We re-opened about 4pm and everyone was “home” by 645 pm. A laundromat run was made with guests by volunteer Penny Bullock. Bill Yaccino’s Wednesday life group had signed up to bring a potluck dinner and eat with our guests. It was a veritable smorgasbord with options for all palates from sophisticate to pedestrian. We even had a lady “crash” the event…she had been hanging out for a while chatting and I asked her how long she had been a part of the group, to which she replied that she didn’t belong to Bill’s group, she had just walked by, seen a party and decided to join. (Eek…but I did confirm she was a part of JCC).
8pm the life group left and our guests settled in for a movie. Overnight hosts Ron and Terrie Perry arrived at 9pm.
As of today, 109 volunteers/participants (unduplicated) from JCC have been involved hands on with the rotational shelter.
The last few days have been an absolute blur. The routine of the shelter has settled in, our guests are used to my 6am “Good Morning” as I flip the lights on and start the coffee. Somehow everyone manages to rise, dress, eat breakfast, grab a lunch and head out by 7am. Sunday’s have been the hardest mornings with the need to pack up all guest belongings and bedding to vacate the room for FPU by 630 am. I was really impressed with our group this morning as they collectively cleaned and assisted with carting the stuff out. Lorraine has been a taxi to and from the Kroc center so our guests can shower there, as well as to and from the laundromat. It is feeling familiar, but I have to admit it is exhausting.
Last Thursday one of the Men’s life-groups came to share breakfast of McDonalds they had brought with our group. One of the hosts, Glen Goddard, made a special connection with our guest “Tony” and stayed and chatted with him for an hour. This relationship developed even further Saturday morning when Glen showed up at the shelter door looking to take “Tony” to the men’s breakfast with the excitement and enthusiasm of a middle schooler coming to ask if his friend could come out to play. “Tony” was still asleep, but Glen came in and woke him up and took him over for the event.
We have been blessed with volunteers. The groups bringing food have really made special efforts to please the guests. I am actually very surprised at how picky the homeless population is in regards to the food they eat. Lorraine and I have really enjoyed meeting new Journeyites through this venture. The overnight hosts have been some of the nicest people we have ever met.
“Nancy” and baby “Susie” have really livened the group. Everyone wants to hold the baby, guests and host alike. DeLynn Mandgie came over Friday pm to invite our guests to CR, and took “Nancy” and “Travis” with her. DeLynn will now be sponsoring “Nancy” in recovery. She also joined us for DV step group as she is a victim of DV. She joined us for church, and signed up Baby “Susie” to be dedicated in next weekends’ ceremonies. Lorraine and I were honored to be invited to help her present “Susue” on main stage.
We are developing personal relationships with our shelter “family.” “Bill” is no longer taciturn and silent; he has shared much of his story with Lorraine and me. We have been able to procure him a Trolley Pass as he has a bad heart and walking has been difficult for him. He and I had a good talk about his relationship with God. Our own Aaron Davis has taken “Travis”under his wing: accompanying him to CR, suggesting employment opportunities, and hanging out and fellowshipping. “Travis” has a job interview tomorrow at a Steel Worker’s Union production company. He is also, along with a few others, getting a free haircut today from Rita Lusteg at Sheer Illusions. “Donald”, our class clown, has a rare heart for God. He is a very hard worker, he labors as a cook but is the first to step in and help out in the shelter. He leaves early and comes back late as he works in Pacific Beach and uses public transportation.
Everyone acts as babysitter/playmate to “Dottie’s” girls. They greet and hug all the guests and volunteers upon entry to the room. We have been putting on DVD’s in the evening for the kids, and are amused that most of the adult guests are avid watchers as well.
It is humbling to watch all of the collisions of purpose taking place before our eyes.