Last Wednesday, Supervisor Kuehl’s staff joined a large number of government agencies and community service providers to put on Homeless Connect Day in Malibu. The day-long program brought together a host of services for people experiencing homelessness, including medical referrals, clothing, on-site DMV identification processing, eye exams, diabetic screenings, flu vaccinations, haircuts and much, much more.
A big thanks to Assemblyman Richard Bloom, Chrysalis, the City of Malibu, the Community Assistance Resource team of Malibu, the Department of Mental Health, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Public Health, Department of Public Social Services, Hope Mills, Los Angeles Homeless Services’ Authority Emergency Response Team, New Directions for Veterans, Newberry Beauty School, Ocean Park Community Center, Ophthalmologist Dr. Susan Ransome, People Assisting The Homeless, Safe Place for Youth, Saint Joseph Center, Sheriff’s Department, Tarzana Treatment Center, Venice Family Clinic, and The Veteran Affairs Office for helping make the day such a great success!
Leah Randall, one of the newest talented people joining the Supervisor’s District staff, describes her experience on that day:
What an exciting and deeply fulfilling day!
What started as an idea for a resource fair from the Community Action Response Team (CART) of Malibu, led by Carol Moss, became a major collaboration of service providers through a great deal of planning and working together.
Finally we got to see what all the chaos and coordination between our office, CART, and Assemblyman Richard Bloom’s office would amount to, and the result was a well-oiled machine with the purpose of introducing or immersing the guests experiencing homelessness in the wealth of services available.
We had over 15 booths with different government and non-profit agencies as well as care backpacks made by Hope Mill, an eye-exam station, a makeshift barbershop (provided by students from The Newberry School of Beauty), and foot washing station complete with fresh socks.
The volunteers were organized incredibly well before and during the event by Christine O’Rourke and Courtney Kanagi from St. Joseph’s Center so that each guest had an escort to show them where they should go based on their specific needs.
Our guests really enjoyed the one-on-one access to providers, as well as the experiences we too often take for granted, like the feeling after getting a fresh haircut. When I paused to take a look around the room about midway through the event, I saw real connection. It wasn’t quite as easy to see who was a guest and who was a volunteer anymore, as people were laughing and exchanging stories – pure and simple person-to person interaction. More than 70 guests were served, easily beating our goal at the beginning of the day. Almost everyone left looking a little brighter and many thanked us profusely for the event.
One guest in particular stood out the most to me. A relatively late arrival, he met with a handful of service providers, received his lunch, cracked a few jokes and walked outside. Later, when it was time to break everything down, I saw the same gentleman stacking heavy tables and bringing chairs to their proper carts for our Internal Services Department (ISD) to pick up. He was moving twice as fast as the rest of us trying to clean up. I told him he didn’t have to help a few times, but he refused and just kept smiling. ISD was shocked to see that everything was all set, by the door and ready to go, pointing at me and saying “you’re hired!” as though I had had anything to do with it. Even on a day meant for him to relax and enjoy, this man did the work faster and more efficiently than us! Since we had a few lunches left over, I approached the man who had helped us with such an unparalleled speed and level of gratitude, and handed him the lunches. I told him he probably knew where the hungry people on this beach were better than me, and if he wouldn’t mind getting the food to them. Near tears, he said “Wow, this day can’t be real!” and hugged me, before immediately turning to another gentleman who was approaching and had missed the event; “Hey brother! You hungry? Here I got something for you!” After thanking me about seven more times than I deserved he got on his bike, and there is not a doubt in my mind he helped even more people that afternoon. From the volunteers who took time out of their day, to the providers, to the guest themselves, everyone served as a shining example of why this work is important; it simply brought out the best in everyone.
A big thanks to our staff who helped. From left to right: Molly Rysman, Moses Ledesma, Timothy Lippman and Leah Randall.