Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What a great day! Thank you ALL for your donations!!! :)

I just can't say thank you enough for all of your donations! I feel so fortunate and grateful to be the one that gets to distribute these donations to people that really need them. I hope the pictures can give you some of the feelings I get from doing this work and inspire you to keep supporting this mobile outreach effort. I will also be inviting people to go with me to give supplies out as well. I want to be able to give that gift to people that want to make some new friends with some wonderful people. That is one of the many blessings I have received through this work the last couple of months is making a host of new friends. One of the "promises" in the AA program states something like you will gain and establish a whole host of friends that you will not want to miss out on. This promise is now coming true for me at 16 years sober. Every promise has come true in my life and I am also so very grateful for my sobriety. I have friends from literally all over the world! I have some artists friends of mine offering to send me some art pieces to raise money for California Homeless Resources. I have friends sending money and e-mails of support. I am truly wealthy indeed. I had a friend of mine send me a book recently that I LOVE! "Start Something that matters" is a wonderful book and I am getting some awesome ideas on where I can take this new passion of mine. God has put so many wonderful people in  my life and I am really at awe of it actually this last couple of months. So - THANK YOU from me and THANK YOU from all of my new friends on the streets that directly benefit from your loving donations.
Matt :)

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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Occupy Movement regains power!

The confrontation between the participants of the Occupy Wall Street protests and the authorities has reached a new level of violence. About 300 people were arrested in Oakland, California as a result of a clash between the demonstrators and the riot police. The initiative of the protesters to take over a disused convention centre in an attempt to draw public attention to the problems of the homeless was met with tear gas and flash grenades and police batons. The unreasonably violent reaction of the authorities has brought the issue of the protests back into the spotlight and once again questioned the vaunted democratic principles of the US government. 

The wave of protests that spread across the country like a forest fire last year, vividly demonstrated that American citizens were fed up with empty promises of the government. The deepening economic crisis, collapsing job market and the insolence of the bank elite left Americans no other choice but go out on the streets. One of the main causes of the nationwide protests became the absolute inability of the President to stand up to the expectations of the social groups which had brought him to the White House. Middle class, students and young professionals found themselves facing the rapidly growing debts, lack of decent jobs and total indifference of the government. 

“When the financial meltdown happened, there was a feeling that, "Wow, things are going to change. Obama is going to pass all kinds of laws, and we are going to have a different kind of banking system, and we are going to take these financial fraudsters and bring them to justice," – said Kalle Lasn – the founder of the Adbusters – a not-for-profit, anti-consumerist organization, believed to be one of the main inspirers of the protests. When the hopes for the Obama’s interference turned out to be empty, the protest actions started to spread across the nation. 
By the end of 2011 the movement was almost quenched after the police had cleared most of the protesters’ camps from city centers. The Oakland incident put the Occupy Movement back in the centre of  public attention raising reasonable questions about the lawfulness of the authorities’ reaction. 

An attempt by the protesters to take over the disused building of Henry Kaiser convention centre led to the violent attack of the police, which used tear gas and flash grenades. About 300 people were arrested and at least 3 policemen and one demonstrator were injured. 

As usual the city officials prefer to blame the protesters. "Once again, a violent splinter group of the Occupy movement is engaging in violent actions against Oakland – said the mayor, Jean Quan, The Bay Area Occupy Movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground." The official statement made by Oakland police also denies the accusations of over-reaction. 

"Officers were pelted with bottles, metal pipes, rocks, spray cans, improvised explosive devices and burning flares. The Oakland police department deployed smoke and tear gas," says the statement, "The city of Oakland welcomes peaceful assembly and freedom of speech but acts of violence, property destruction and overnight lodging will not be tolerated."

However, the bond of trust has already been repeatedly broken by the previous actions of the police, including the infamous pepper-spray incident, when a police officer sprayed the gas in the faces of seated peaceful demonstrators. The Occupy Movement is regaining power and this fact demonstrates that even the police violence can’t stop American citizens from expressing their discontent with the policy of the government and authorities.
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Joy Junction is Helping Families In Need

Joy Junction looks like a great program! I just read this blog and thought I would share it. 
Thanks, Matt
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By Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO

It’s hard enough being homeless. When you’re robbed of the possessions you do have and the few dollars you might get for a day’s labor, that just adds insult to injury. Sadly, we’re hearing reports that’s happening.
When our staff first heard about these incidents, we assumed that it was random street violence. But then we heard these attacks were apparently being carried out by non homeless individuals driving, in some cases, reasonably nice vehicles.
With that in mind, I asked Lisa Woodward, our transportation manager, to  investigate. Lisa drives second shift and a couple of graveyards for us and has an “ear to the ground” about what’s occurring on the streets. Lisa began what she dubbed a “week long information scavenger hunt.”
Lisa said, “I have lived among and worked with the homeless population for almost eight years, and have seen the homeless and myself been treated with disdain, disrespect and cruelty. However I never saw that we would be targets in what boils down to a hate crime.”
Lisa explained what she meant. She said she started digging a bit into these crimes, which apparently happen quite frequently on the streets of downtown Albuquerque.
Lisa said everyone she spoke with who had been a victim made a comment that the perpetrator said something like, “You’re homeless anyway; not like you have to pay rent with this money.”
Lisa said, “This made my heart skip and I walked back to the van, feeling rage I hadn’t felt in years.”
Lisa said she continued on her route, and something kept pulling her to go see “Chapo.” Lisa said something about Chapo draws her to him. She said he’s lived on the streets for close to 30 years.
Lisa said she is unsure of  his exact age, but she would guess him to be in his late 80′s. “He is a gentle and calm spirit who cannot function in mainstream society. He asks for little and to those that live around him, he gives all.”
Lisa made her way into the alley where Chapo has his pop up house, and tapped on the side. She said Chapo appeared and  invited her in. To her surprise, he was eating a hamburger. She looked at the meal he was appearing to relish.
Lisa said, “He caught my glance and smiled back, explaining that sometimes the restaurant nearby would let him sweep the parking lot for a meal. I asked him if I could ask a few questions while he ate. He said, ‘Of course, Miss Lisa. Why is your heart heavy tonight, child?’”
Lisa said she asked Chapo if he had heard of these crimes, if they were something new, and if he had ever been attacked. He said he had heard of them, but he had not been a victim. He told Lisa he was the “wrong homeless class to be rolled by them.”
Lisa said, “My head cocked, and I said, ‘Chapo, homeless is homeless.’ He said, ‘No, child. Homeless is not homeless.”
Lisa said she gave Chapo a cigarette, and waited for him to continue. He told Lisa there are three “classes” of homeless people.
“There are the homeless that you and Joy Junction primarily serve,” Chapo said. “They have fallen on hard times, have abuse problems, or are ‘system homeless.’ Their parents never really stood on solid ground nor their parents before them, so they were never given the skills to keep a job, pay rent, car payments and do all the other things (necessary for) life.”
Chapo said there are also what he called “warrior” homeless. They’re in small time drug sales, drink a lot and are in and out of jail. Some, he said, are gang members. They want to stay under law enforcement radar.
Then, there are “street homeless.” Chapo said, “That is me, Miss Lisa. Now don’t get me wrong. I have been known to have whisky to help keep this old body warm and will say here and now I will use it again, but only when available.”
He smiled and continued. “Lisa, my people don’t come out in the day, and at night we are vapors, the shadow you thought you might have seen. I don’t panhandle and I don’t steal. I sweep here for food and there for smokes. I receive social security, and a little from the veterans. It pays for my medication and propane for my stove. I walk to Tingley Beach, and fish when I get hungry for my mama’s fish and chips. My class of homeless does not exist.”
Chapo told Lisa  the homeless served by Joy Junction are hated by those individuals just getting by.
He said, “These ‘rolls’ are hate crimes. The people who function everyday through a shelter are tagged by those who just hocked their car title to pay the rent or buy food. They know (your) homeless will be fed, pay nothing to sleep warm and take a hot shower. Miss Lisa, they feel (your) homeless have more, and it is given to them.”
Lisa said the sky had begun to brighten as she looked at Chapo with tears in her eyes.
She said, “I told him he did exist, and was a very special soul. I handed him the rest of my pack of cigarettes and hugged him, promising I would see him soon.”
As the sun came up, Lisa drove back to Joy Junction, her mind teeming with what she had heard.
Lisa said, “The misconceptions about the homeless have always (bothered) me, but I had not felt anger like this since I encountered a man at a convenience store who recognized me from Joy Junction and asked how I could sleep with a bunch of dirty bums.”
Lisa added, “I implore those who see us downtown or anywhere, flying a sign or sitting on the corner waiting for the day to go by. Before you judge us, come to Joy Junction and take a tour. See what our reality is.”
She continued, “No, we don’t have to pay … but the lights will come on at 6:00am and there is NO snooze button to hit for just 15 more minutes. There is no stretching and wandering to the kitchen for a cup of coffee in your robe. With their daily struggles, many see no hope. Suffering a vicious attack can  be the final indignity.”
My Take
As the mainstream media say in some of their reports, some of the facts contained in this story have not been independently verified. But that notwithstanding, the charges are horrible enough to merit an investigation. Until (or if) that happens, please pray much for our city’s homeless.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

California’s state of hunger Voices from the frontlines of the battle against food scarcity in California


This article was published on .

George (left) and Billye McPherson, who once struggled to feed their own family, now run a food pantry in the far rural north of California. Says Billye: The month is longer than the money.”
A decade ago, Tammy Jaime lost everything to drugs. She her husband spent through their savings, lost their home and car, and ended up in the mountainous, rural far north of California, begging for food for their children.
But that’s not why Jaime struggles to feed her kids today. These days, Jaime, 39, is sober, enrolled in college, and working part-time for Cisco Headstart where she earns $12 an hour. It’s the most money she has ever made, far above the minimum wage. But routinely, as the month draws to a close, she and her husband run out of funds, not least because when somebody in the family falls sick, they end up with high medical bills.
“We live from paycheck to paycheck,” said Jaime. “Once in a while we see a movie. We don’t eat out very much. We don’t have TV. … Yes, next week is payday. But then, you know what, my check is gone the next day, because it’s all lined up for bills.”
For Billye and George McPherson, an octogenarian couple with 14 great-grandkids, who have long run the Siskiyou County food pantry that Jaime used to frequent, hunger is now a permanent companion for many friends and neighbors.
“When we were younger,” explained George McPherson, “and we had moved up here from the Bay Area, we had some really hard times raising our family. … So we understand what it is to be hungry.”
These days, the families who come to the McPherson’s pantry number about 350 out of a total local population of a couple thousand.
“One of the things that I’ll never forget is this [50-year-old] lady came in. … She needed food,” said McPherson. “When we gave her her box, she looked in it, and she saw toilet paper. And she said, ‘Oh, toilet paper,’ and she broke into tears. That just shows you how grateful these people are for everything you can do for them.”
Many of these men and women have jobs, but the jobs pay low wages—many far lower than the hourly rate paid to Jaime—and competition for them is fierce in the current economic climate. For these Californians, said Billye McPherson sadly, all too often “the month is longer than the money.” A week or two out from the next paycheck, they turn up on pantry lines, looking for boxes of food to tide them over until they have money in their bank accounts once more.
Hunger’s numbers
Four-plus years into the worst financial, housing and unemployment crisis to hit the country since the Great Depression, America’s hunger numbers continue to climb. Forty-six million people are enrolled in food-stamp programs; they receive benefits that average $133.80 per month per individual, and $283.65 for a household. Millions more, based on their income numbers, ought to be so enrolled, but for many reasons aren’t. Additional millions don’t qualify for food stamps, but the part-time, low-wage work that they can find in practice doesn’t pay enough to cover all their bills. Like Tammy Jaime, they juggle expenses, and, in the process, frequently end up with insufficient money to buy enough food for themselves and their children.
While California doesn’t have the highest rate of poverty or hunger in the country, its raw hunger and food insecurity numbers are stunning simply by virtue of its size. Yes, the state with the largest population in the country has the second highest number of food-stamp enrollees (Texas holds the dubious distinction of having the highest), with more than 3.8 million residents on its CalFresh program. Of these, 1.39 million are children.
Maribel Diaz has been a CalFresh recipient since she lost her job at the beginning of the recession. She now works part time for Hunger Action Los Angeles as an advocate for food-stamp recipients eating healthier foods.

California would, however, have far more food-stamp recipients if it did even a remotely decent job at reaching out to those poor enough to qualify for the federally funded program. As it is, while some states successfully enroll upwards of 90 percent of food-insecure households, more than half of all Californians who should be covered by food stamps remain outside of that part of the safety net. That translates to nearly 4 million hungry Californians going without basic food assistance from the government. To survive, these men, women and children are reliant either on the largesse of local charities, churches and food pantries, or they are simply missing meals to stretch their meager food dollars as long as possible.
“California’s about the bottom of the barrel,” said California Food Policy Advocates executive director Ken Hecht, of the low food-stamp-enrollment rate. Hecht’s organization published a report in 2010, titled Lost Dollars, Empty Plates, which concluded that approximately 3.6 million Californians who qualify for food stamps are nevertheless not enrolled—thus sacrificing federally funded benefits worth a total of more than $4.8 billion annually. Since food-stamp expenditures circulate rapidly through the economy, the CFPA researchers calculated that the total cost to the California economy of these unclaimed benefits was a staggering $8.68 billion.
Last year, hunger advocates from around the state convened in Sacramento to highlight the urgency of the problem. Members of Hunger Action Los Angeles showed up at the Capitol carrying cardboard cut-out figures, on each of which was glued a paper plate on which was printed out hunger data, generated by the California Health Interview Survey, from individual counties. Whichever part of the state one chose to focus on, the numbers were dismal.
In Los Angeles County, there were nearly 1.13 million “food insecure” adults in 2009, the most recent year for which such CHIS data exists, most of them insecure because they were not enrolled in the food stamp program. In Riverside County, the number was close to 250,000. San Diego had 210,000, Sacramento 126,000, Santa Clara 96,000. In Alameda, there were 169,000 adults in this category. Even in eminently middle-class counties, the numbers were high: Sonoma came in with 51,000 food-insecure adults; Yolo with 16,000.
Cumulatively, the survey found that statewide, even after the expansion in food-stamp usage since the start of the recession, 3.7 million Californian adults were struggling to put food on the table in 2009, up from 2.8 million just two years previously.

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California, meet your hungry
Hunger in 21st-century America transcends stereotypes: It might be portrayed by a food line snaking through a dirt-poor neighborhood in a dilapidated inner city, an image redolent of Great Depression-era photographs by chroniclers such as Dorothea Lange. But at this point, it’s just as likely to be embodied by somebody like Marcy Glickman, who for most of her life was upper-middle class, a denizen of L.A.’s fashionable west side, but who has recently been brought low by medical bills following her husband’s illness and death, and her own disability.
“I’ve had [a Mercedes-Benz car], we could travel, we could buy nice things, jewelry. … We lived a great life. Great medical coverage. Children in private schools. Then, all of a sudden, it changed, because of illness. … My husband had cancer. Those bills are horrendous. It’s the nightmare that you’d never, never want. One day, you’re high on the hill. The next day … you’re a part of those that don’t have.”
Hunger is also the face and voice of Graciela R., who lives in the hardscrabble L.A. suburb of Silmar. The 50-year-old mother of two used to scrape by with jobs in laundromats, but she has been unemployed since the start of the recession. Where she and her husband once brought in nearly $2,000 a month, today they squeak by on the $700 a month that her husband earns repairing windows in cars. How much money does she have? “The $3 in my purse,” she answered in Spanish. And laughed, as if to say, “What can you do?”
For food, the family of four lives on the food stamps that one of her two children is eligible for, and food boxes given out by the community group Meet Each Need With Dignity, in the nearby town of Pacoima, as well as neighborhood churches. She and her husband sometimes miss meals to make sure that their children have enough to eat.
Hunger is also the face of Matthew Joseph, a middle-aged steel worker and church deacon, brought to the edge of destitution by Stockton’s collapsed housing market combined with a long spell of unemployment in the first years of the recession. “You realize that everything you’ve worked for can be gone, completely gone,” said Joseph, as he recounts his struggle to keep his home and to put food on the table for his wife and himself. “I had to start looking for things in my lifestyle where I could say, ‘We can’t do this any longer.’ I was always looking to say, ‘What can I get out of this meal? What can I make that will last me not just a meal but two meals?’ I need to be able to thin everything; thin what we’re doing in life, what we’re doing for our house. Where do I come up with money for food, PG&E, garbage and everything else?”
At his church, Joseph was struck “by the amount of people at Christmas or Thanksgiving not looking for presents, but just looking for food. I hear these stories at the cathedral day in and day out.”
A decade ago, Tammy Jaime lost everything to drugs. Today she’s sober, enrolled in college and working part time. But she routinely runs out of money to feed her kids by the end of the month. “Yes, next week is payday. But then my check is gone the next day.”

This changing face of hunger became particularly noticeable in 2008, recalls Blake Young, executive director of the Sacramento Food Bank, as he details demographic shifts in his clientele in recent years. Throughout 2009 and most of 2010 the total numbers of food bank clients—men, women and children who can be seen lining city blocks on mornings that the banks and pantries distribute free food—continued to grow. And even after the total numbers stabilized, the number of “ex-middle-income, first-time visitors has gone through the roof,” Young noted. “And it’s growing every day.”
There must be food
Yet, for all of the “food insecurity” in California, actual hunger would be far more extensive without government programs in place to tackle the problem; or were those programs replaced by block grants, as an increasing number of Republican politicians are advocating.
Food stamps are the one part of the social safety net that, for those enrolled, still works really well. The program keeps users from hunger, being available to all legal residents who are at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty line—though individual states can determine what value of assets, such as cars, applicants are allowed to hang on to. It is counter-cyclical—the availability and usage of food-stamp benefits increasing during recessions, with the federal government currently bankrolling the program to the tune of approximately $65 billion per year—and can help to keep local economies afloat during downtimes, and it is flexible enough to deal with the needs of individuals and families in a multitude of ways. The benefits are given to clients via the EBT card, which means that once the messiness of enrolment is over, the delivery of services is actually pretty efficient. And, unlike the old paper vouchers, modern EBT benefits are hard to sell, thus eliminating, or at least much reducing, black markets around their usage, and making sure the benefits get spent properly on food—especially food for children.
That’s one reason that the GOP attacks against food stamps in recent months, by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum on the presidential campaign trail, and by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)—who proposed replacing food stamps with capped block grants to the states—haven’t resonated all that well.
People in America don’t like welfare programs in the abstract, but when it comes to specifics, food stamps and other nutritional programs actually enjoy pretty high levels of support. Polling data quoted by the Food Research and Action Center shows that nearly 90 percent of Americans believe that “those who are unable to earn enough money for food should be helped by others”; in 2003, the Alliance to End Hunger found that seven in 10 voters say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who proposed cuts to the school-lunch program and found that 63 percent of voters would be less likely to vote for a politician who proposed cutting food stamps.
But while there are many success stories associated with the country’s federally funded anti-hunger programs, the states responsible for administering these benefits vary tremendously in how they enroll people and how they access the federal dollars. And on this front, the Golden State does very badly. Despite years of efforts, only about half of eligible Californians receive the benefits. In many counties, that number is actually far less than 50 percent.
In the six counties of the Sacramento region alone, more than 110,000 residents eligible for food stamps go without. The benefits lost by these people equal more than a quarter of a billion dollars per year.
Analysts blame the low-enrollment percentage on an array of factors: first among these was that, until a recent reform, Assembly Bill 6, kicked in January 1, California was one of only three states to fingerprint food-stamp applicants, placing both a stigma and a fear of law enforcement and immigration authorities in the way of access to the program.
That requirement was changed, in a rare display of legislative bipartisanship in Sacramento, after years of prodding by President Barack Obama’s United States Department of Agriculture officials responsible for administering food stamps. Both in D.C. and at the department’s regional offices in Oakland, USDA personnel held numerous meetings with state officials, sent out letters to key legislators, and otherwise made it clear that they wanted to see reform.
At the same time, A.B. 6 also set in place a timeline for ending, over the next two years, several other bureaucratic obstacles to easy enrollment. Currently, California mandates that recipients apply for re-enrollment four times a year, subjecting them to a cumbersome means test that frequently deters applicants; A.B. 6 reduces the returning applications to twice a year. Also, the state insists that applicants apply, in person, at food-stamp offices, which produces a strong disincentive for the working poor to apply: after all, if applying means turning up during work hours and thus losing hourly wages, or even forfeiting a job, why bother to apply? A.B. 6 allows for telephone interviews and online applications.
At the same time, the federal Affordable Care Act gives the newly created state health insurance exchanges boards the option of setting up systems that would automatically enroll into the food-stamp program applicants who successfully enroll in Medicaid. California’s board is likely to go for this option. The rationale, here, is that a dollar spent on helping people eat well saves many dollars in health costs down the road.
Marcy Glickman was upper-middle class for most of her life, a denizon of Los Angeles’ fashionable west side. But she was brought low because of medical bills following her husband’s illness and death. “I know what it’s like to have, and then to have a need.”

Finally, following passage of Jim Beall’s Assembly Bill 69, California will also soon allow low-income elderly residents to access food stamps more easily when they enroll in Social Security, in an attempt to end a pattern of extraordinarily low CalFresh participation among this portion of the population.
Hunger advocates hope that the effect of this series of changes will be dramatically increased enrollment levels in CalFresh over the next few years, and a corresponding decrease in levels of food insecurity in California.
The public-health ingredient
In addition to the state changing the ways in which residents can access food stamps, many localities are also getting creative on the nutrition front. Programs such as The Veggie Voucher Program, funded by local food networks and foundations, are pushing recipients to eat healthier foods, leveraging their federal food stamps with matching funds for clients to spend specifically on fruits and vegetables in select farmers markets around the state.
“If you are consuming your fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, it’ll prevent you from getting sick,” explained Maribel Diaz, a CalFresh recipient since she lost her job, and currently a part-time worker with Hunger Action Los Angeles. “It’s very important to have access to fruits and vegetables.”
More broadly on the public-health front, many of the state’s large food banks are moving away from a reliance on USDA surplus and grocery-store contributions—mainly carbohydrates and canned goods—and toward privately donated and bought fruits and vegetables. Some, like the Sacramento Food Bank, are also inaugurating large demonstration farms from which their clients can harvest produce.
This is, nutritional specialists have long argued, a critical public-health ingredient in the food equations of the moment, given the challenges of low-income obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes; and given, also, the large number of regions (including in south Sacramento, Del Paso Heights and north Sacramento) that have significant shortages in the numbers of stores offering fresh produce at affordable prices. “Access to fresh food via either grocery store or farmers market—a large portion of the low-income population don’t have access,” explained Blake Young.
In addition to The Veggie Voucher Program, that piggybacks off of CalFresh, local school districts such as Compton Unified, with endemic poverty rates, are experimenting with Classroom Breakfast, seeking to raise breakfast-enrollment levels to the same levels as those of free-lunch programs. Again, the assumption is that hungry kids—who might not be able to get to school early enough to access breakfast in the cafeteria before classes begin—can’t learn to their full potential, whereas well-fed kids are better able to concentrate on their academic responsibilities, thus allowing them to use education to break cycles of poverty.
The family of 18-year-old high-school senior Uriel R., who attends a school in the East Los Angeles suburb of Pomona, was recently evicted from its home. As a result, the large family—siblings, parents and grandparents—was split up; his sisters now live elsewhere. Uriel lives in a small apartment with his mother, who finds occasional work cleaning homes, and who routinely struggles to feed her family. The student said, “My mom only cooks on Monday, so I expect a hot meal on Mondays. Sometimes it’s just eggs and cheese. From Tuesdays all the way to Sunday we don’t have hot meals; we just eat whatever’s left in the fridge.”
A smart student, with ambitions to attend college, Uriel has slid into depression as his family’s economic situation has worsened. He sits outside a lot. He often cries. The American Dream, he declaims angrily, means nothing to him anymore. “The weekends,” he said, “I just eat soup or quesadillas. I don’t eat breakfast in the mornings.”
When Compton moved its breakfast program into the classroom to try to tackle the kind of hunger that Uriel describes, the number of children accessing meals increased by 250 percent—from 98,353 in September 2010, to 238,716 a year later.
Scale of emergency
For all the good work being done on the hunger front in California, the scale of the crisis remains daunting.
Despite her access to Veggie Vouchers and CalFresh, for Maribel Diaz and her three sons, the sense of dislocation following the family’s slide into poverty remains acute. “I’m hoping that there is a way out of this, that everything starts getting better. But right now, I feel like I’m stuck, there’s no way to go, right or left. … Poverty to me means not having access to a normal life. Not having access to go to a movie. Not having access when my kids need shoes or clothing. If it wasn’t for the CalFresh program, we would have no access to food. If it wasn’t for those programs out there helping us, I’d basically be a homeless person. ”
For Marcy Glickman, that sense of dislocation has been just as profound. These days, with her income having been reduced from $10,000 a month to $1,000. Glickman has lost her house to foreclosure, her car to the repo man. She now lives in a small apartment, relying on monthly disability checks and on a network of food charities to put enough food on her table. “I started collecting coupons for groceries. … We ended up having to get food stamps. At first, I felt embarrassed, but after a while, I realized, ‘At least we’re eating.’”
These stories are unfortunately all too common these days, said Jessica Jones of the Los Angeles Food Bank. “We get stories like that almost all the time,” she explained. “The people who did everything right and had the rug pulled out from under them. And the people who were already struggling are struggling even more. When I first started [working at the food bank] in December 2008, we served 39 million pounds of food. In 2010, we did 62 million pounds of food. The number of people we serve has gone up by 73 percent since the recession started.”

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Introducing - Wayne Martin Mellinger

Visit this wonderful Artists Blog
Our Neighbors on the Streets
A social Justice Perspective

About Wayne
I am a social justice educator, activist and writer, living in Santa Barbara, CA, where I work as a social worker for neighbors on the streets, particularly with those with mental health challenges. I advocate for all who are denied equal access to basic needs or are treated without dignity and respect.

I have a passion for helping chronically homeless and dually diagnosed individuals transition into permanent housing and self-sufficiency. I have worked as a Street Outreach Worker / Case Manager / Counselor for WIllBridge of Santa Barbara, the Safe Parking Program, Casa Esperanza Homeless Shelter, Transition House (Family Shelter) and New Beginnings Counseling Center. I am certified as a substance abuse counselor and bring substantial study of mental illness and treatment modalities to my work in the field. I now teach in the Alcohol and Drug Counseling Program at Santa Barbara City College.

I also teach a wide range of social sciences classes at Antioch University Santa Barbara, including mass media, social psychology, and social work classes, in which I proudly infuse the notion of “praxis for social justice” into every class.

I know that when we critically reflect upon our actions and then bring those insights to our future actions we can change the world.

I am a sociologist / social psychologist / social worker by training, and have spent much of the past twenty-five years teaching critical social science and qualitative researtch methodology at various colleges, including the Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley campuses of the University of California, the Fielding Graduate University, and Ventura College.

I received my M.A and Ph.D. in Sociology / Social Psychology from UC-Santa Barbara. I have sought to re-conceptualize power and oppression in everyday social interactions and everyday cutural artifacts and have helped to create the subdiscipline of Critical Interactionism.

My academic publications are listed here:


I am an avid blogger. One blog is called "Doing Modernity: Using Critical Interactionism to Study Everyday Life". Find it here:


Another is called “Our Neighbors on the Streets: A Social Justice Perspective”. Find it here:


I am an active volunteer and community organizer and have been part of the leadership for the Freedom Warming Centers, Survival Santa Barbara, the Restorative Policing Team, Common Ground Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Homeless Foot Washing, the “Homeless in Santa Barbara” blog, and several community forums on homelessness and mental illness in our community.

These initiatives lead Santa Barbara County Supervisor Doreen Farr and Santa Barbara City Councilmember Grant House to appoint me to the South Coast Homeless Advisory Committee of Santa Barbara.

I am also active as a board member for Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) and seek to mobilize local faith communities around issues of poverty and homelessness. I am an active member of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara since 2005.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cesar And Ilusion Millan Foundation's Spay & Neuter Campaign P.S.A.

I have been a HUGE fan of Cesar Millan for years now and I am an even bigger believer today. I was at the Harbor Church yesterday in Ventura Ca. (California Homeless Resources partnered with them) and the director there was telling me a story of the dog whisperer coming to the church/shelter and taking this homeless gals pup to train it so that she could go into a shelter. The homeless gal was form the river bottom here in Ventura and she loved her dog but it needed to be trained to stay with her. Cesar took the dog, trained it and brought it back! I am a HUGE fan and want to partner with Cesar in the future as well. 

Our Mission
To create and deliver community humane education programs and promote animal welfare by supporting the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of abused and abandoned dogs.
Our Vision

Life-long healthy relationships between dogs and people.
Our Programs

The Millan Foundation provides financial support to assist non-profit animal shelters and organizations engaged in the rescuing, rehabilitation, and re-homing of abused and abandoned dogs. The Foundation prioritizes funding on spaying and neutering programs to help reduce or eliminate dog overpopulation.

Community Services:
The Millan Foundation provides financial support to assist non-profit animal shelters and organizations engaged in the rescuing, rehabilitation, and re-homing of abused and abandoned dogs. The Foundation prioritizes funding on spaying and neutering programs to help reduce or eliminate dog overpopulation.
  • Shelter Stars, the Millan Foundation’s animal shelter affiliation program, promotes positive, healthy relationships between families and the dogs they adopt from re-homing organizations across the country.   Currently, Shelter Stars partners are distributing copies of "People Training for Dogs" (the most popular volume in Cesar Millan’s "Mastering Leadership" DVD series) free of charge to families that adopt shelter dogs.
  • "Spay & Neuter is Nothing to Whisper About" is the Millan Foundation’s public service campaign that includes television commercials, full color posters, and reproducible ads featuring messages from the “Dog Whisperer” himself to promote the importance of spaying and neutering dogs to curb overpopulation
  • The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, made possible by the Millan Foundation, is a collaboration with North Shore Animal League and Yale University’s "School of the 21st Century"  The curriculum is an innovative approach to humane education, and embraces learning within the context of the emerging area of emotional intelligence and social skills.  The Millan Foundation wishes to generate public and media attention on the plight of dogs and cats awaiting adoption in shelters and enhance the status and desirability of these animals, most of which are mixed breed "Mutt-i-grees." Students will learn essential skills 3/4 such as caring for others, showing empathy and respect, building relationships and acting ethically and responsibly 3/4 and how those apply in their interactions with peers, adults and animals.  The first of the curriculum’s four phases focuses on preschool and the primary grades and starts in September, 2009.
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Redding’s Homeless Encampments – - Part 1: RPD Deals With Another Side of the City

Two cites exist in Redding.
You know about the first one. It has streets and traffic and businesses and parks and hospitals and schools and churches. This first Redding is just a little slice of California, USA, where citizens work hard and play hard. They pay bills and struggle and succeed and raise families and exercise and volunteer and watch TV and enjoy the great outdoors.

Then there's the other Redding - the second one. It's the focus of a series here on anewscafe.com in the following days about homeless encampments within the city limits.
Redding's second city - the one made up of homeless encampments - is primarily hidden, though keen-eyed observers might glimpse portions of these places as they cross one of Redding's bridges or drive along Miracle Mile, or walk, hike or bike the city's trails, greenbelts and open spaces.
People who live here are the unsheltered homeless, many of whom suffer from mental illness and substance abuse. Some of the encampment residents are registered sex offenders, or parolees. Primarily, this population is male, but some women live here, too, all in the great outdoors.
Other days in this series we will explore the various facts and viewpoints regarding the homeless who live in these encampments. We can address exactly who they are, why they're homeless, and the solutions to best help them.
But today, in Part 1, we look at the encampments, and efforts by the Redding Police Deparment, mainly under the direction of Officer Bob Brannon, to tackle the gargantuan task of cleaning up the encampments, and disposing of the literally tons of trash they generate each year.
Some of Redding's most notable homeless encampments are located on both public and private properties. And, by the way, it's illegal to camp anywhere within Redding city limits.
To law enforcement and others who clean up the encampments, or work with the unsheltered homeless, some of Redding's most renowned homeless camp sites are found beneath the Cypress Street Bridge, and in the newly developed Henderson Open Space, and near the old Hatch Cover Restaurant, and deep down in the ravine behind the strip mall across the street from the Shopko Center.
Photo by Kat Domke - From left, Redding Police officers Bob Brannon, Dean Adams and Linda Gisske meet near the Masonic Lodge in Redding to clear out tagged homeless encampments.
That steep area off Lake Boulevard behind the Masonic Lodge is where anewscafe.com photographer Kat Domke and I recently met with a trio of Redding Police Department officers, Dean Adams, Linda Gisske and Bob Brannon. The officers were joined by four Shasta County Jail trustees assigned to help clear out homeless encampments that had been red-tagged earlier as unlawful encampments.
Our journey began about 8 a.m. on a chilly, clear day. We walked beyond the treeline, just south-west of the shopping center. At the entrance to this area was a pile of rocks with a skinny wooden cross stuck in the center. At the grave's base were plastic flowers and a commuter coffee cup and tiny toys. One officer explained that site was where a homeless woman was found dead last year, with an empty liquor bottle near her body.
As we headed into the brush, a few people suddenly appeared, and fanned out from different points, almost ghost-like, away from the officers. Some of them carried bulging plastic trash bags. Others toted over-stuffed backpacks. Yet others dragged rolling suitcases behind them that bumped along in the dirt. One auburn-haired woman emerged from the wooded area carrying a white shopping bag, while a black dog walked beside her. The woman, whose hair was neat and clothes appeared clean, nodded in the officers' direction, but didn't say a word.
The officers didn't arrest her, or, for that matter, any of the other the illegal campers we encountered that day, even the man who, hours later, yelled at the police when they reminded him that his time was up, that he had agreed to leave before that day.
"Hey! This is America!," he said. "This is bullshit!!"
The police and their crew continued to clean up the surrounding area as the man packed and made a cell phone call for someone to pick him up.
The police officers said there's little point in arresting the illegal campers. The jail lacks the personnel to handle more inmates, so the campers would be quickly released.
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