March 30, 2010
"Can you help?"
"There's this homeless couple with the most adorable 1 year old, living in their car which is about to be compounded. It doesn't run, needs a lot of unaffordable work, and is stuck there in front of a church." The police have given them until the end of the week to move it or lose it."
So went the 911 conversation with our CPC sister inquiring direction. She had happened upon the mom with infant and sensed things were not right. Over the next few days Cynthia has provided the basic necessities to mom, Michelle, and baby girl Royal. Now she needed more help.
First up, a call to the Salvation Army. I was ultimately connected with a case worker, Psyche (in truth!). Best as I could, from my vantage point as a distant third party I related the story -a story Psyche likely hears a couple of dozen times daily. She picked up on the number 1, 2, and 3 absolute need - shelter, and asked I drop the family off at their headquarters, 800 Scott in Sand City for an "intake history" and appropriate placement.
The long term core issue to the married couple is a car that works, that works more than just as a domicile, but runs and moves so that mom can get Royal to the doctor (multiple allergies), can drive to the food bank, and enables dad to keep up with collecting recyclables for sustenance
Pam and I met Michelle and Charles today at their big bronze '90 Lincoln Continental grounded outside San Carlos Church. Charles, 50ish, gentle and articulate, has two broken down knees, badly in need of joint replacement, but unavailable to him. He struggles to walk. His manner was peaceful, his nature positive, his character, grateful, his love of Michelle and Royal, abundant. Michelle, 25ish, reserved, and withdrawn, was content to play mother, leaving the role of family head to Charles. And in the midst of our fellowship, it began to rain
"Can you help?" The plea was simple, but at this moment of truth, my confidence was iffy. Each S.O.S. distress call is unique. I enjoy the opportunity and always manage to learn from the challenge, but score a total victory, no, and certainly nil without prayer and guidance from the Spirit.
After Charles locked their two bicycles to a post, and transferred the baby car seat, we made off to meet with Psyche. Psyche was sensitive and cordial but not gushy. She could not fulfill the couple's primary interest, a shelter that accommodates families. There are a limited number of shelters for the homeless in our county, a few for men, and even less for women, but none for couples with children. And Michelle and Charles are not about abandoning Royal or aborting their marriage vows for their individual self interests.
The immediate solution provided was a night's rest and shower at a local motel, one replete with a microwave oven and refrigerator (for Royal's soybean formula – available at $3.39 a half gallon). Further, Psyche provided us with a list of low cost apartment units in the area for which the Salvation Army will help with the first month's rent and security deposit – a solution, on the surface, not remote from Charles' ability to handle
Their long term goals are not unrealistic. They need a car that works. Charles' knees don't carry him further than a half block or much longer than 4 minutes. He continues to apply for jobs, any job, minimum pay or otherwise, but never comes close. So he does recyclables 6 days a week. On a bad day he brings in $8 and when he is graced, $22.
(Charles is a Christian, was brought up Catholic, sent his first children to parochial school in Salinas, and a bible is what we're gifting him today.)
The vouchers still remaining from the Yellow Brick Road will come in handy later in the week. We'll take Michelle, Royal, and yes, Charles, on a shopping spree there after the rains let up
Meanwhile Cynthia has arranged for their own local mechanic to check out "the car that couldn't" to assess the best price available for the block repair.
What Cynthia, Pam, and I are requesting are two items
- Can you bring your recyclables to CPC on Saturday mornings at 8:30 AM. Pam and I will deliver them to our new friends?
- And, prayerfully, can you part with and donate your old car (that still works or needs not major repair) to our non-profit, For The Least Of Us, (fully deductible). Charles can scrape together up to $500 (if needed) in the transfer.
Bill and Pam Ziering
26033 Mesa Drive