I was at a Homeless symposium sponsored by our fifth district Supervisor Shirley Zane. One of the speakers was a Dr. from San Francisco who was managing the homeless shelters in that city. He spoke of the need for shelter for the homeless in very blunt terms. If we … View more give a homeless person shelter they have a 65% change of surviving and thriving versus a 15% chance of survival by being on the streets. Pretty startling numbers. Our county of Sonoma has run out of available shelter for the homeless. Our temperature dropped into the 30’s over the past few nights. The county is opening up parking lots for those living in their cars to have a safe and hassle free place to sleep.
Our local “Chapter of Realtors” marketing meeting had a representative of an organization called "Vet Connect" speak to us about the plight of the homeless Veteran. We are ending our "Winter Coat" collection and are giving out last minute donations from our Realtor charitable giving funds. Our “Santa Rosa” chapter of Realtor is attempting to raise 2500 coats for the homeless. We designate 4 charitable needs based groups. We asked the “Vet Connect” representative what they needed--"Warm coats" he replied. We all chimed in—those we got plenty of! Then he said a very sad thing, "And also tarps-not bright ones but either brown or camouflage". Many had a puzzled look on their faces but he went on to say how the bright ones attract cops and then they get hassled and asked to move on.
If I were a cynic I'd say, “Great, welcome to the Sonoma County solution for the homeless--free tarps and a place to park your car!” But I know there are folks out there that teach us all a lesson in compassion. I also know much is being brought to bear on the homeless in the County and especially the Veteran. Recently an under utilized motel was converted as a homeless shelter for Veterans exclusively. It is over 50 units and also has auxillary services for Veterans. Obvious more needs to be done. The "Vet Connect" representative left with $1,350 in cash as we passed the hat amongst our Realtors and Affiliate members. I am always amazed at the charity and generosity of Realtors and those we work with every day. Next week is our big Holiday Party and we will once again celebrate another year past and goals accomplished. We auction off a fully decorated Xmas Tree. Last year we auctioned it off for $4,000! We divvied up the money between many needy families. A friend at C-21, through her church, tells us those families in need. Tis the time of giving. I’m reminded of the old Beatles song with an appropriate phrase: "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."