"Personal Contributions" Something this writer did not expect was to become a voice for Esperanza, TOOF, and the general homeless population. Opportunities arose to become a spokesman, video host, Resident Liaison, Volunteer Medic, subject of newspaper and television stories, and a source for counsel and advice to staff, residents, and the public. Truth to power was spoken and the advice was appreciated and followed. (How often does that happen?) And it ain't over. Stay tuned! The photo is of Judge Andy Brown discussing issues with Hippie.
"Famous Sandwiches" Since shortly after TOOF arrived, in August 2020, every Tuesday at noon, Antone's Famous Po' Boys has delivered hundreds of sandwiches to the community, lasting for days. The high quality of their product is an honor for us. It provides an important dietary suppliment to the regular meals. On occasion, someone in a mental illness crisis will take a sandwich when they can't take the "crowd" in the kitchen.
"Case Managers" This particular facility started as a tent encampment with very little services offered. The Foundation matured the concepts and practices and applied them to all our lives. None have such a great impact on our progress as the Case Managers. They have a wonderful mix of rookies and veterans in social service. Making such a difference in other people's lives is not easy, particularly here. They suceed with knowlege and tenacity without judgement.
"Showers" Since the beginning, showers have proved a bit difficult to provide. After attempts at hose and cabana units, Shower trailers proved adequate, but have been maintenance challenges. With the new individual stalls, that part of hygene is raised to the best practice available.
"Security Crew" An on-site Security Crew has greatly improved security and stability here. Our residents have less pressure when a basic order is maintained. Understanding that our residents have challenges to overcome, there are many second chances and wait-and-see. This gives a person room to grow. One of our better examples of our Security is Ms. Brown, who has years of experience. It hasn't always been easy and she has grown into an outstanding officer here. She has great communication skills, and she often talks down a stressing resident or consoles a person in distress without physical interdiction. This makes her just right for the Esperanza community.
"The Kitchen" Food storage is critical to unhoused individuals. Until the individual neighborhood prep and gathering areas are complete, our kitchen area supports the estimable efforts of our food donors. The group, Free Lunch, does, indeed, feed freely, and the meals are consumer quality and designed for healthfulness. Our kitchen area supplies ice free to the whole facility. (Ice was my idea, way back)
"Terms" In the early days of our camp, things were loose and somewhat dangerous. However, this was noty a fertile ground for criminals, as very few of us had money or assets. There was a brisk trade in drugs and stolen goods often stolen from the very residents. When TOOF stepped up, a process started that boiled away most of the bad actors and the residents could get on with rebuilding their lives. When TOOF arrived, they listened hard to the community and built systems based on that. Now, with a kind of "civilization" here, people can reduce the fear and heal with the services offered. Even some of the bad actors began to "get with the plan" and change their lives.
"Providers" Free Lunch, Shared Kitchen, Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Agape Ministries, CD Doyle, CommunityCare, Integral Care, Laundry Angels and many individuals engage in background assistance for particular needs. Pictured is the group from Free Lunch. On the right is the Founder, miracle worker and perpetual angel, Jazz Mills. They have consistantly provided excellent meals designed to be healthy for over two years. We are the best fed refugees on the planet.
"Domicile" On a number of occasiona, the tents provided a safer alternative to the streets. However, the locked doors, A/C, and metal structure provide a far more stable base for regaining a place in society.