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“Change Can Happen if You Give Hope” by Bobbi Hafar, HERO Team

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“Today took a toll on me emotionally. I called to get some information on a homeless client that I have been working with so that I can help get him into housing. I couldn’t locate him for a while.

I found out that he had been found in an alleyway bleeding from his ears, mouth and nose and was also bleeding internally. He was taken to the hospital 10 days ago. So, I went to the hospital to check in with him. He is a polite 73-year-old man. He has a drinking problem that he acquired after he lost his wife four years ago. After she passed away, he became a heavy drinker and was evicted from his home and became homeless. In the four years of his homeless lifestyle, he acquired hepatitis C from sharing needles.

I immediately went to the hospital after finding out today to visit and see how he was doing. He was happy to have a visitor. I told him, ‘Well, you’re in a good spot. It’s raining cats and dogs out there!’ The nurse told me that he had an operation to remove water from his stomach and that he had a blood infection caused by drinking and hepatitis C. She proceeded to tell me that he stopped taking medication for it because he was upset that he couldn’t get his methadone. After I told him how important it was to be on his medication and that his life is important, he replied, ‘I’m a grumpy old man. I’m sick of taking it. I already took it long enough.’ I said, ‘Yeah and a stubborn stinker at that!’ He laughed. I told him, ‘If you stop taking that medication, you will be right back in this bed at the hospital next week.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I know.’ Then he told me that he would put his IV back in. So, I retrieved the nurse and told her.

Before I left, I told him that I’ll be checking on him. After he gets out, the plan is to find him housing. I explained to him that I need him to get better. I’m just hoping that he gets better and takes his medication.

Everyone’s life matters. Even the homeless – the forgotten. Everyone deserves to be cared for and feel that they matter. It broke my heart that he was in the hospital with no family to support him through this. Change can happen if you give hope.” – Bobbi Hafar, Outreach Specialist, HERO (Homeless Engagement Resource Outreach) Team

The HERO (Homeless Engagement Resource Outreach) Team provides outreach, identification, assessment and navigation services for Veterans and other chronically homeless individuals and their families within the City of Fresno. The goal is to quickly regain stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis and/or homelessness.

WestCare California, Inc. and its subcontracted partners: Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, Poverello House and Turning Point of Central California employ Outreach/Navigators to work alongside the Fresno Police Department Homeless Task Force, respond to requests for street outreach and assessments generated from the City of Fresno and coordinate with all Multi Agency Access Point (MAP) locations and other housing and support services. These services and interventions are geared to removing barriers while providing linkages to supportive services in an effort to achieve housing stabilization for homeless Veterans and other chronically homeless individuals and their families.

For More Program Information, Contact:
(559) 241-8753 Ext. 21233 or hero.team@westcare.com

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Veterans Safeway to Work Program Gets A Vet Back on the Road to Employment

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Our Veterans Safeway to Work Program (VSWP) made possible by the Safeway Foundation and Vons Foundation and offered by San Joaquin Valley Veterans  (SJVV), a project of WestCare California, provides vocational assistance to Veterans in need of supplies or training for their desired profession. We’d like to share a letter written by our staff about one such Veteran that we serve.

“Larry came to the Veteran’s Plaza transitional housing program on December 1st, 2015. He had no source of income when he arrived and had a rough time adjusting at first. However, things started to change for him. He started opening up and would bring laughter to his peers and staff. One day, Larry informed me that he had 25 years of experience with driving trucks and that he wanted to get back into the field of truck driving. Then along came the Veterans Safeway to Work Program (VSWP), which gave Larry the opportunity to get back into truck driving.  He finished his resume, began applying with various truck driving companies vswp-success-story-larry-1and was referred to United Truck Driving School as a refresher. In order to enroll, he needed $800.00 for tuition and a renewal for his Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). VSWP was able to assist Larry by covering the cost of both the class and his license renewal. He has since received a certificate in recognition of successful completion of the course! He said that he has so much to be thankful for this holiday season! Larry is currently working with an Employment Specialist at the Fresno VA as he continues his job search.” – Curtis Combs, Case Manager, Veterans Safeway to Work Program (VSWP)

VSWP Flyer

September 16th – 30th: “Fresno’s HOMERUN”

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Homerun - Regency Property Management Staff with Staff from WestCare California, Poverello House and Turning Point of Central California

Homerun - Park Ave ApartmentsHomerun - Las Villas ApartmentsHomerun - Cedar Tree Apartments“Ending homelessness is not an easy task. It requires more than just wanting to get it done. It requires determination, perseverance, the ability to work tirelessly and sometimes going against seemingly impossible tides. It requires collaboration and commitment.”

During the month of September, such collaboration and commitment of various agencies resulted in a Rapid Rehousing housing push, coined “Fresno HOMERUN”. The idea for this housing push came from Iain De Jong of OrgCode Consulting, as he was in Fresno providing a training to our coordinated entry agencies. Funding for this initiative came from the County of Fresno ($65,000) and needed to be expended by September 30th.  As these funds were to provide short term rental assistance, Fresno decided to focus on individuals identified as needing rapid rehousing intervention through our coordinated entry assessment tool. WestCare California, Poverello House and Turning Point of Central California joined forces and were able to assist in housing a total of 43 people in just two weeks. Services offered included, double deposit, rental assistance for 2 months and PG&E deposits and arrears if needed.  From September 16th to September 30th, these agencies expended a grand total of $54,156.72 that ended homelessness for 23 households, 7 of which were households with children. The lives of 43 people have been changed. They have a new lease on life and a second chance at the American dream. During this housing push, we were also able to establish relationships with 8 new landlords. Regency Property Management made a substantial commitment to our efforts, offering 13 of their vacant units. Las Villas apartments were also very receptive and were able to reserve 3 units for this initiative. The staff of Royal Realty secured 2 units, while Cedar Tree II, Carl McNight, Canyon Park Apartments, and Park Avenue Apartments all committed 1 unit each for the housing push. The success of the housing push would not have been possible if it weren’t for the collaborative efforts of these agencies and property companies. Thank you to everyone that participated in making this housing push a “Homerun!”

 Esther Carnegie – Housing Locator and MaryAnn Calderon – Program Coordinator, WestCare California Housing Services 

wc-branding_CAFor over 40 years, WestCare California has been providing an opportunity for individuals to lead fuller, richer lives. Our team of multi-cultural, experienced and credentialed staff is dedicated to providing the best care to everyone who enters our doors. Our goal is to uplift the human spirit by providing the skills and support necessary for individuals to achieve their dreams and transform their lives.

WestCare provides a wide spectrum of health and human services in both residential and outpatient environments. Our service domains include mental health & wellness, substance abuse and addiction treatment, housing opportunities, education & prevention, criminal justice and veterans programs. These services are available to adults, children, adolescents, and families.

“Welcome Home” by Erin Shelton, WestCare California – Housing Opportunities

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Crystal J.

“Welcome Home”

“Crystal was brought to MAP Point by Tasha Marin at Fresno EOC. Fresno EOC paid for a hotel stay for Crystal and her six year old niece, whom she legally adopted because her mother could no longer care for her. Crystal had been out of work for a long period of time and was just trying to make a better life for her and her niece. Sara Rios of WestCare California was Crystal’s point of contact at MAP Point. Sara scheduled an intake with the ESG program and that’s where i stepped in to help the ESG case managers and completed the intake process for them! Crystal was a very special case because she was handed over to the amazing team (Tasha Marin and Sara Rios). With that being said, Crystal secured housing and came to MAP Point document ready. All that Crystal needed was a little help by caring people and assistance with a deposit. We were able to sign documents with the apartment complex the very next day and move her in that same day! Crystal was so excited, as you can see by the gorgeous smile on her face. She is settling into her new apartment and is so very grateful for the amazing work that the team has done for her and her niece.”

– Erin Shelton, Case Manager, Housing Opportunities

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WestCare California focuses on providing critical and quality services to assist individuals and/or families to quickly regain stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis or homelessness. Programs such as Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) and Project LiftOFF provide housing and address the multiple needs of homeless adults & their children. WestCare uses the Housing First Model which has proven that homeless and at-risk individuals are more responsive to interventions and social services support after they are housed, rather than as a precondition of housing.

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Multi-Agency Access Program (MAP) is an integrated intake process which connects individuals facing housing, substance abuse, physical health, or mental illness challenges to supportive services matching individuals and families to the right resources at the right time. This is accomplished through an established and formalized collaboration of service providers, leveraging existing community resources, eliminating barriers and assisting consumer’s access supportive services.

“Things Are Not Always As They Appear” by Richard V.

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Don't judge people you never know what kind of battle they are fighting

“When I first arrived at WestCare, it was at the Belmont Facility. In the parking lot, there was at least two dozen people standing around smoking and talking, some with just the clothes on their backs and others with their life’s belongings. New bags, old bags. Long hair, short hair. Tall, short. Red, brown, black, white. Some with all of their teeth, some with no teeth. Some homeless, some with their whole family. Some on bikes, some walking, some in cars. We all had one thing in common: We had the fire down below. We were all dying a slow death. Some of us were there because we were forced to. Some because we had no place to lay our heads. For some, it was their last option with their family. I am here because I want to live. I have a part of me that does not want to let go of life. I am glad that I chose to come here. Now that I am sober, I can see how precious life is. I look forward to my days ahead. I will go on my terms, not my addiction’s. I reached the end of my trail. It was time for a new journey. I look forward to a new beginning.”

Richard V.

LiveSMART’s Day at the Zoo – Nathaly Juarez, Nutrition Specialist I

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On June 30, 2015, participants from the LiveSMART “Eating Smart, Being Active” nutrition class at Parc Grove Commons had the opportunity to attend a day at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. The purpose of the event was to engage the families in physical activity as part of the program.

The zoo provided the parents and children with an array of fun activities that even in the scorching hot sun, the kids did not want to leave.

Parents and children feeding stingrays at Stingray Bay
Parents and children feeding stingrays at Stingray Bay

The children were excited to learn how stingrays and small sharks live and function in the sea.

Participants eagerly watch the sea lions at Sealion Cove
Participants eagerly watch the sea lions at Sea Lion Cove

Every week for the past couple of months, residents at Parc Grove have had the opportunity to receive nutrition workshops varying from meal planning to healthy recipes. The goal is to provide low-income families information about food choices for healthy lifestyles and reducing the risk of chronic diseases, safe food handling, storage and preparation and making the most of resources to feed the family.

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Not only are the participants from the LiveSMART nutrition classes learning how to change their family’s meal plans, but they are also learning how to engage in physical activity as a family.

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We look forward to sharing the future fun activities the program has planned in the next couple of months!
The program is administered by WestCare California and the University of California Cooperative Extension through a generous grant made possible by Kaiser Permanente.

Oorah – Raymond Gonzalez, SJVV Outreach Specialist

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Hi, my name is Raymond Gonzales. I work as an Outreach Specialist with San Joaquin Valley Veterans (SJVV) and have been in this position for over a year and a half. I’ve previously worked with Westcare eight years as an alcohol and drug counselor.

I served in the United States Marines in the 70’s and 80’s, while the Iran hostage Crisis was happening in 1979, and was deployed to Okinawa, and Korea. I am proud to have served my country and would go again if I could.

I am thrilled to be throwing out the first pitch at WestCare Night/San Joaquin Valley Veterans Night! Let us always remember to show appreciation for our military! Happy Fourth of July weekend and Go Grizzlies!

2015 WestCare Night Flyer