News


Women find refuge at Heart and Home

Shelter organized by Stanford students offers homeless women a safe place to heal

Vickie Boone lived in her car for several years, staying in Palo Alto's Hotel de Zink, a temporary shelter housed at local churches, when she needed a respite. But she has been wary of shelters because of past experiences there.

Once, while sleeping at the co-ed rotating shelter, she awoke to a loud bang. An out-of-control man was knocking over tables.

"A chair came this close from my head," she said, demonstrating a 2-inch space between her fingers. "And the bathroom thing is scary. I was the only woman among all men. One guy talked about how he was going to shoot us all."

But now Boone, who has long advocated for a women-only shelter, is a board member at Heart and Home Collaborative, a new all-women shelter organized by Stanford University students. It opened Jan. 26 after more than a year and a half of planning, fundraising and negotiations for city permits and insurance. Boone's dream-come-true can accommodate up to 15 women and is currently hosted by two Palo Alto churches.

Boone has other accommodations now, but she checks on the shelter twice weekly. Each night through March 30, the women arrive at 7 p.m. and receive dinner. For the next 12 hours, they can rest peacefully without fear of being harmed, she said.

Thick sleeping pads are laid onto the floor. On a recent evening, Darlene, a neatly attired woman in her 50s wearing carefully applied makeup and large hoop earrings, arranged her belongings beside her bed. Heart and Home has been a respite from the cold and a place that makes her feel safe, she said.

"I want to say thank you to the Stanford students who took the time to come here every day. It's the Stanford students that lift my spirits — that lift everyone's spirits. The Stanford students have given their time and effort and have done it with a smile, showing love and in a caring manner, and they have been very supportive. And I am happy to be able to sleep in a Christian environment," she said.

Most of the 10 women at the shelter on Wednesday night were older than 50, and one woman who was new to the shelter is 75. Life on the streets is especially dangerous and hard for older women, and many at the shelter fear returning to long nights of riding the VTA 22 bus to avoid predators and the cold after the shelter closes, she said.

"We need a shelter for older women. We're the ones with health issues. We're the ones that suffer the most. We're not a bunch of lazy women on drugs. It's not fair to be a housewife for 20 years and take care of a husband and raise children, and when you get sick nobody wants anything to do with you anymore," Darlene said. "Most of us are on five or six medications. We're too weak to fight back. If Santa Clara County can have the Bill Wilson Center to house prostitutes, why can't we have a shelter for older women?"

Catherine Zaw, a Stanford junior and volunteer coordinator, said students who were part of Night Outreach, a volunteer group that visited Palo Alto's homeless population at night, began to gauge the need for a women's facility during their discussions with people living on the streets. Some students had worked in 2012 at Hotel de Zink. But the group wanted to expand on its mission and emphasize its values, which include developing friendships and respect with their guests, as they are called.

Relationship building has been at the core of their philosophy, along with empowering homeless persons, Zaw said.

The students, who work independently of the university, received funding through grants and personal donations. ZipCar provided $5,000 in transportation services, which serves as a kind of taxi service to get women to appointments. Pro bono lawyers gave free legal advice, and professors helped mentor the students, she said. Along the way, they had to learn how to set up a nonprofit, write grants, obtain insurance and navigate Palo Alto's permit process. But the greatest learning has come from the women themselves, from whom they solicit feedback about how things are going, she said.

Boone agreed the participation of guests makes Heart and Home different from other shelters.

"We try to make it like a hotel. We want them to feel welcome. Other places told us what to do. Respect is the most important thing, especially when you are homeless. You are like an invisible person when you are homeless," she said.

The shelter has tried to have job counselors available and to help women build resumes and word-processing skills. They are hoping to work with the free clinics to offer flu shots and enter the women into the health care system.

Linda Martinet, liaison for one of the churches housing the women, said the shelter has worked out well.

"It's been a very pleasant experience so far. We have paid staff and volunteers, and the shelter is staffed the whole time," she said.

Boone said there is a greater need for more churches to host the shelter, which is "dry," meaning there is no tolerance of alcohol or substance use. She is hoping that an expanded program will keep the shelter open longer next year, and perhaps, one day it could be year-round, she said.

"Even though it is only 10 weeks, it is really empowering," she said.

Zaw said the shelter not only protects women, it empowers them to take the next step to reclaim their lives. When one isn't focused on survival and is surrounded by encouragement and friendship, good things happen.

At Hotel de Zink, Zaw saw camaraderie grow among some of the women, which helped them to move out of their homelessness.

"Two or three were able to find jobs and rent an apartment together," she said.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Darla
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2014 at 10:42 am

It's about choice and taking the opportunities presented to you. No need to punish those that have made a nice life for themselves.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by UC Davis Grad
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 23, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Wow, Darla, rather harsh there, aren't we? Maybe, just maybe, if you spent time in these women's shoes, you'd realize the error of your ways. Maybe.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by nice
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thanks for this!
a resident of Ohlone School
on Feb 24, 2014 at 10:40 am

Love the reporting of this dedicated work of a group of individuals who saw a need and through their compassionate action have made life much better for the women that are receiving shelter. Thank you!

Faith without works is dead.

There but for fortune go you or I.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 10:43 am

When I read this I anticipated reading that the TUP for University Lutheran to host a temporary women's shelter for 42 nights was approved. If it is not, I hope it will be and I urge neighbors to be supportive of this. Doing a good thing often takes a lot of time and effort; this time all that is required is that people do NOTHING other than not stand in the way of the church's plan. Couldn't be easier.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mary D.
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2014 at 11:01 am

Hello! I would like more info on this program. It is the type of project that appeals to me. Please send info to

koolroberta@aol.com.

Thank you.

Mary D.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 1:43 pm

This was a very heartwarming article. I am so pleased to read about these Stanford students who have been so generous with their time to help women in need. It would be great if there could be an addition to the article showing if there is a way to make a contribution to this effort.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marina
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 24, 2014 at 3:22 pm

What these Stanford students are doing is really commendable. They take time out of their very busy schedules to help in a very meaningful way. Unfortunately, there are those who care more about their own materialistic interests and actively counteract these kids' efforts by prompting the City to rescind permits and nullify the opportunity for these women to be helped. I hope the City will reconsider and grant the permits for this project. It's only for 10 weeks - even if there would be an inconvenience to some residents, the benefits outweigh any such inconvenience. Not only are these women given a chance to catch up and re-group, the students are learning valuable lessons for life and kindness and caring is a wonderful basis for anyone's future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thank you students
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Really smart idea to have a place for women, and making this happen the way it did.

THANK YOU


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm

>Unfortunately, there are those who care more about their own materialistic interests and actively counteract these kids' efforts by prompting the City to rescind permits and nullify the opportunity for these women to be helped.

Please count me into that camp (materialistic and selfish). This Heart and Home deal is just one more end run to build even more welfare housing in Palo Alto. It especially bothers me that Stanford students want to dump on Palo Alto, especially College Terrace (just got a flyer on my front porch that they want the Lutheran church in CT "to operate a homeless shelter"). They think that CT is an easy target, apparently, where sympathetic followers will push their cause, and those that oppose will cave. Why don't they set up their welfare project on the Stanford campus?

I was a young Stanford student once, and I get the na've idealism, but I never expected someone else to absorb the damage that I proposed.

[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Really, Craig? [Portion removed.] At least you admit you are materialistic and selfish.
What is amusing is that for years on this forum you have asked local churches to come forward and shelter the homeless, now the church in CT May do it and you are upset???????? Really, Craig?
[Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm

my opinion is that these Stanford students should find a nice spot on the Stanford campus for their shelter. The campus is large and maybe Stanford Park West has room. Or maybe there are vacant rooms in the dorms for the homeless. But College Terrace does not seem like the best place for a homeless shelter. Just my two cents.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 5:27 pm

>Really, Craig? Are you that cold hearted and mean spirited? At least you admit you are materialistic and selfish.

There is nothing cold hearted about being self interested. It simply means that I live where I can afford to live, and I want to maximize my self interest; if I cannot afford to live here, then I move to where I can (and still support my self interests). If that is cold hearted, that is fine with me.

>What is amusing is that for years on this forum you have asked local churches to come forward and shelter the homeless

Only if they get the buy in from their neighbors. This is a good example of where a secret ballot of CT residents should occur: More welfare housing, or not? [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 5:32 pm

The proposal is for a TEMPORARY (6 week) place for no more than 15 pre-screened middle-aged homeless women from Santa Clara County to have a safe and warm place to be from 7pm to 7am. No children, no spouses or boyfriends, no drugs, no alcohol, no weapons. And there will be supervision. This is an act of compassion and the sort of thing that churches do. I think this deserves community support b/c like it or not, homelessness is a community problem. I am a fairly conservative person and I live near the church. This shelter plan not only doesn't worry me, I think it's a good thing and I will help with the food if the city approves the temporary use permit. Stanford should take a turn in the rotation, too - great idea! As an alum and a neighbor I wouldn't object to that, either.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Church attender
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2014 at 5:53 pm

This is a rotating center. My church has done this and it was done without any inconvenience to any of us. I am pleased that these women have a place to sleep without fear and if they make friends with others to help them on their way or get a better view of church and faith so much the better.

College Terrace seem to be the only community that have caused problems as the other neighborhoods where churches have done this seem to have no concerns. It seems that College Terrace neighbors have either got the wrong end of the stick or are the only NIMBY neighborhood in Palo Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Well said, Annette. I guess to be fair any and all church activities should be put to a vote. Of course, denying a church the right to help those less fortunate could be seen as religious discrimination.

Of course, Craig does not like the leader of the church CT. Here is his comment from an older thread:
Web Link

"Then I saw that clergyman from the church in College Terrace. He came off as a religious fanatic to me, claiming that we should all open up our hearts to the car campers. However, why was his church parking lot not offered as part of the solution? Hypocrit, IMO. "

Note that Craig claims that the minister is a hypocrite for not opening the church to the homeless. Now Craig is upset when the clergyman agrees to sheltering a few homeless women. Note also there is no mention of a bite in Craig's old posting

Here is another example of Craig attacking churches, but he does not call for any votes-- just that the church open up to the homeless
Web Link
"I am. It is long past due. Those who want to moralize can simply open their own homes up to the campers. So far, I have not seen any of that happening; even the churches have refused to open up their parking lots. "


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Church attender-- nit sure if it is all or even many people in CT. Check out Annette's comment above. Also note that Craig is very vocal on this matter and people may think that he speaks for CT- he does not.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 6:20 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 6:37 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 6:49 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Rupert, I can tell you Craig speaks for many in Ct. More so than these well meaning folks from outside the CT area. Have any of you who support this shelter notified Escondido and Nixon parents of this plan so they can weigh in on having a shelter across the street from the grammar school?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 7:10 pm

"Rupert, I can tell you Craig speaks for many in Ct"
Okay, I will bite. How do,you know?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by NJS
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Stanford has so much land and money they can take care of numerous homeless people, if this is what they want to do. I support housing for the homeless on Stanford's campus but not in a residential neighborhood.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 7:43 pm

>"Rupert, I can tell you Craig speaks for many in Ct"
Okay, I will bite. How do,you know?

Rupert, it is so simple: Put it to a secret vote in CT. Such a secret vote in every neighborhood in PA, faced with structurally transformative issues, will tell the truth about what people want. Do you agree to accept the power of the people, as expressed by the power of the person (through the secret ballot)?



 +   Like this comment
Posted by AJ
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 7:55 pm

I was in a Bible Study Group with Vickie for a few years and just loved her. She really has a heart for the homeless and models kindness, humility and honesty. Thank you Vickie for truly making a difference!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Why does a church need to have the neighborhood approve or disapprove of what it does by a secret vote? Previously your were chastising churches for not opening their doors to the homeless ( without demanding any secret votes). Now when they are doing what you were demanding to begin with, you change your tune and trot out your " secret ballot" argument. Seems like you do not know what you want.
Anyway, not sure a neighborhood can decide what a church is allowed to do by voting on it. Could be that will,open the city to a major lawsuit from the church. Also seems like they have the permits and the insurance and the women are vetted, so you are really late to the game, Craig.
So to summarize, no ban on car camping. Churches doing what Craig has demanded of them for years . And CT is benefitting. From taxpayer subsidized programs. So which neighborhood is elite"????????


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:09 pm

>Why does a church need to have the neighborhood approve or disapprove of what it does by a secret vote?

Because such a decision by a church needs the buy in of its neighborhood. Traffic issues; police issues; property value issues; future expansion issues. If CT, through a secret vote, wants this welfare scheme, I will accept it; if the vote is against it, will you accept it?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Actually a church does not need to have a secret vote to get an okay to do what is part of its ministry ( of course when the church was not doing what Craig objects to ow, there was no need for any secret votes) However, Craig, if you feel so strongly about the matter, why don't you ask the city council to pass a law requiring a secret vote by the neighborhood before a church is allowe to do anything.
As for my accepting the results of a vote like that, there is nothing to accept, because a vote like that probably wrong and a violation of religious freedom. Certain things, like civil rights, religious freedom are not decided by a vote.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Church Attender
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Can't believe the big deal this is to at least one member of College Terrace and also to the parents of schools in the vicinity.

It lasted a few weeks at my church. They came at 7.00 and were gone at 7.00. They did not increase parking, traffic or anything else. Most of the neighbors would not have known they were there.

Secret votes about what? Traffic, police, property values, future planning of what?????? Churches have activities that cause parking, traffic, all the time and for a lot more people than 15.

Get over it, Craig, please.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:32 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 8:40 pm

I predict that those who do not want ULC to host this shelter will be heartened by the City's non action on this b/ c if the decision isn't made soon the "problem" is solved. Some will applaud that; others (like me) will not.

it was mentioned at last week's mtg that fear may be driving some of the opposition. For what it is worth, my 92 year old mother belongs to a neighborhood parish in a very nice east bay community. For years her church has hosted a temporary shelter for 2 weeks/yr and she has helped w/ that program every year. If the "guests" were threatening or unsavory or bad in some way she would have politely declined to participate. The people ULC would be helping are homeless women who have been prescreened for this temporary shelter. I think we should keep in mind that being homeless is not a crime.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 9:41 pm

>As for my accepting the results of a vote like that, there is nothing to accept, because a vote like that probably wrong and a violation of religious freedom. Certain things, like civil rights, religious freedom are not decided by a vote.

In other words, your cause is morally supreme, and us mere mortals who live in this CT neighborhood should accept your judgment. Even if we oppose your schemes, right? There are no religious freedom or civil rights issues involved here...this is about preserving our neighborhood from even more welfare housing than we already have. Hiding behind religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel(to paraphrase Samuel Johnson).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 10:37 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

"Local religious zealots should not have any special leverage. " ?????
Zealots? Proposing comfort to those in need? Craig's comments make me want to cry.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 24, 2014 at 10:49 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 25, 2014 at 6:44 am

[Post removed due to referencing a previously deleted comment.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I live in CT you don't so STFU
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 25, 2014 at 8:03 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 25, 2014 at 8:21 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Church Attender
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2014 at 8:30 am

I will make my point again.

The church in the article, I recognize the photo so know it is my church and I live in the area, had no problems whatsoever. I doubt if most people even realized that we had these women staying there for a few weeks.

If College Terrace residents are really worried about this, then they should actually look at what happened in other areas and how little affect this had on the neighborhood before they start complaining. I am sure that if they ask the church or the neighbors they will get a true picture.

I have been there. You are scare mongering. There have been no problems.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 25, 2014 at 9:26 am

Thank you, *Church Attender*. I do live in College Terrace and I assure you that *Craig*, *Resident*, and *I live in CT you don't so SFTU* do not speak for me any more than I speak for them. This proposal is stuck in the approval pipeline which likely means time will kill it. So one can only wonder what is driving the vitriol. After reading all this, if I were one of the homeless women, I'd seek shelter almost anywhere other than CT. Their daily life is hard enough w/o adding insult to injury.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 25, 2014 at 10:49 am

I'm curious. What make CT "elite" compared to other parts of Palo Alto, as Craig Laughton & Rupert think? There are several parts of PA I'd consider "elite" before CT, such as Southgate, Crescent Park, Professorville, Palo Alto Hills. It's proximity to bus routes, businesses, & fast food on ECR appear to me to be good place for elderly, non-substance abusing women to sleep safely.

This program is very different than Opportunity Center, which has males & females of various ages, some cohabiting, and residents with established substance abuse & mental (ill)health issues. Why compare grapefruit & grapes?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Think globally, act locally
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2014 at 11:45 am

"The proposal is for a TEMPORARY (6 week) place for no more than 15 pre-screened middle-aged homeless women from Santa Clara County"

Once upon a time Palo Alto had a local service organization called Urban Ministry of Palo Alto that helped unhoused people in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto. Then Innvision acquired Urban Ministry and the Opportunity Center was created as a regional center to serve the needs of people throughout Santa Clara County. Now Innvision has merged with Shelter Network of San Mateo County and a two-county organization has been created. The Stanford students don't see their mission as helping unhoused women from Palo Alto, but as helping unhoused women from Santa Clara County. When you are unhoused or hungry it doesn't matter where you get the help. But the neighbors of the temporary shelters in Palo Alto might have different opinions depending upon the home city of those being helped. Aren't there permanent and temporary shelters in San Jose for people in need from San Jose?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm

>What make CT "elite" compared to other parts of Palo Alto, as Craig Laughton & Rupert think?

You never heard me say that CT is "elite". CT tries to protect itself against various pressures that are historical in nature (cut through traffic, parking issues from Stanford and SRP, car camping and so forth). But "elite"...no way. I want to protect CT from being seen as a dumping ground for any more welfare projects. I think that any new welfare schemes be put into the elite neighborhoods, some of which you mentioned...of course it will never happen, because the elite neighborhoods would not put up with it. Once CT is allowed to vote on such issues, and if the vote is to reject welfare dumping, then CT will begin to be seen as more of an elite neighborhood...can't happen too soon, IMO.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chuck Jagoda
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 25, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Chuck Jagoda is a registered user.

A very big thank you to those who commented and support our efforts. It DOES take a lot of work and there are obstacles to achieving out goal--offering clean, safe, warm, secure shelter for part of the winter. If you could see the faces of the women when you ask them if they are happy there, you'd see how happy they are.

But now we do have an obstacle. The Temporary Use Permit that is necessary to have the shelter is the present obstacle. Such permits are usually granted after a safety inspection. As far as we can tell we have met all the safety requirements. However, the permit has not been granted. Nor are there signs that it WILL be granted.

It seems that in this instance, neighbor complaints are being taken into account. Some neighbors have some objections. One that was relayed to me was that one of the unsheltered women might have a knife, break into a nearby home, and stab the children there.

We understand that some people are very afraid of unsheltered people. We have found that those who meet and visit with unsheltered people have no such fears and can go on with the rest of their lives without one less fear on their minds. But, of course, engagement and facing one's fears--though it is a very healthy and healing thing to do--cannot be forced on anyone.

If anyone who is afraid of these women would like to come visit the present shelter and meet them, we would be glad to facilitate such a meeting. It would have to be today (Tues) or tomorrow (Wed) because we don't know where our guests will be on Thursday.

Again, thanks to those who support our efforts. For those who have reservations--please come meet our guests.

Chuck Jagoda


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 25, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I appreciate your thoughtful comments Chuck, but would prefer you made these unhoused (is this now PC for "homeless") on the Stanford campus next door to the wonderful Stanford students who pushing this plan. Barron Park would be fine too, in your spare bedroom.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chuck Jagoda
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 25, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Chuck Jagoda is a registered user.

Hi Resident,

As you probably know, neither I not the students involved control Stanford University. Stanford (as you also probably would agree) is a very conservative institution. Perhaps even more conservative than those commenting here.

As it is a very conservative institution it is fairly miraculous that the students who started this shelter have been able to get the use of some Stanford resources at all. There is no official Stanford support for the shelter.

Yes, Stanford has a HUGE campus, And yes, it would make a wonderful location for some experimental efforts to solve the poverty and housing problems that will not go away just because some don't want them in their neighborhoods.

We have to realize that the accumulation of wealth of which some people are so proud did not just come to them without consequences. One of the elements that has contributed to the wealth of Palo Altans is cheap labor. You might be surprised how many in the unsheltered community have directly contributed to the education of Palo Alto's children and success of its businesses. Even now, when the POST runs an article about how business is improving downtown, they give credit to the police for keeping the streets safe and to the Downtown Streets Team for keeping them clean. And how many of us--though too poor to pay rent--are contributing today.

As for me opening up my "spare bedroom,"-- let me assure you I have. In my homeless career in Barron Park, I have shared my front seat (aka spare room) with another shelter-challenged person while I slept in the back seat (my main bedroom).

It is easy to feel that you've earned what you've got and forget those who did or do contribute and aren't doing so well. But the truth is none of us is that entitled. A person born on third base might think he hit a triple. But he didn't hit a triple--he had parents that educated him (or her), ancestors who invented things we now take for granted, and family who made money in ways we would consider dirty or unacceptable today and who passed that money on to us.

A much more healthy, pleasant, and actually fun attitude is gratitude for what we have. Instead of having a hoarding attitude, sharing is really a lot better for all involved. Back in New York in 1967 we had a Summer of Love a little different from the one you all had here in San Francisco. A bunch of us white-bread types from the suburbs went into places like East Harlem and helped folks clean up.

We made junk-filled lots into playgrounds, painted, hauled trash, and, in general, helped locals fix up their hoods. At the end of the day the street was filled with families eating at plywood-on-sawhorse tables. The food was prepared by locals and brought in by suburbanites--a big old pot luck dinner. It was a lot of fun and gave you a feeling of great satisfaction. And you know what the best part was? Instead of being stuck with a fortress mentality and thinking of how to keep the unwashed hordes away from the door--there was a feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood and, yes, love.

SO much better than fear.

Love is a much lighter cloak than the burden of fear.

Chuck Jagoda


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 25, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Mr. Jagoda -- I'd like to bring some baked goods to the shelter this weekend. I also may have a few extra coats and umbrellas. Where/when should I drop them off?

Craig -- Why do you seem so threatened by the very idea of giving temporary shelter to pre-screened elderly homeless women?

We should all thank God or just Lady Luck that we don't have to sleep outside in the rain this week. Hats off to the participating churches for making their religious teachings a reality. I'm not a Christian, but can't help thinking "What would Jesus do?'


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 25, 2014 at 4:40 pm

[Post removed.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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