by Lee Hulquist, Dorothy’s Place volunteer
“I love you…” sings Cholena in her voicemail
greeting. I can feel the love, the wonder, and
gratitude for her life in her voice. Seconds later she is calling me as I leave her a voicemail.
We meet and sit in the sunny and secluded
courtyard of the rehabilitation care center where she is recovering, healing, and living, truly living! I’m there to hear her story, so far. She is excited. She uses her right foot to propel her wheelchair up and down the hall. She asks for help when she needs it, though, somehow, she seems to be as independent and self-sufficient as she always has been.
“I’m still learning how to pray,” she says. I’m with
God a lot. I sit in my room and pray. I have time
Cholena was hit by a train in February, 2021. This year. She was trapped under the train and lost her
left arm and left leg. She also lost her right hand.
So now, she has no hands, one leg. And yet, she’s sitting up, talking, joking, feeling. And loving her life, and loving God.
She cries a lot, too. She’s riding her waves of
emotion, gratitude, trauma, and deep sadness. We talked about her life. “I have been in jail so many times. I’m 46 now. I started using meth when I was younger and that is how this all began. I lived a lot of my life in jail. I used and went to jail. Many jails. I think I may have been in jail maybe 50 times.
“Something happened in jail about a year before
my accident. There I was, in jail again. I didn’t
know at the time that it was for the last time. I had
a feeling that I couldn’t go any further. I was done.
I had been living outside for so long. It’s hard
to explain. I was very low. I was put in a cell by
myself, on a suicide watch. I was in the last, corner cell. It felt different, special.
“People said I was ugly, worthless, that I would
never amount to anything. I was one of the people
on the street, lost, who couldn’t take care of myself. “One night I prayed, the jail prayer: ‘God, please help me.’ And a soft light, like from a kerosene lantern, shined down from the ceiling. That was it. A message.
“When I got out of jail I moved my tent and began
taking care of myself, changing. I wasn’t running
as hard as before. The scene in the encampment began to get ugly, angry,
and violent. I was beat up a few times.
“Then my best friend left. She got out. I love her and I am happy she got away. She told me she feels awful that she wasn’t there when I had my accident. No, it’s not like that. It’s OK that she got away, She is free from that life now. She shows me so much sunshine and support. She knows.
“My love is for living now. I found God. I don't
know if the accident was what I needed. Did I need to be knocked that hard? “I may have 50 more years to realize my dreams. I sing, I rap. I am home grown and self-taught. I'm reaching out to friends, every person. I can feel the world within people. It’s hard to explain.
“Back to my story, I was changing, people could
see it. People were looking out for me. Even though it was bad that last year, I didn’t want to leave. I believed I could change and be me, with the sunny disposition I have always had. That light, sunshine, may come from my Mom. She’s like that, also.
We are re-building our relationship now.”
In our next edition, Cholena speaks about her
plans for the future.
Every two years, the staff at Dorothy’s Place
renews their CPR certifications. This year we
reached out to Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS) to ask if they could offer CPR certification training to our organization and they agreed to. We had 30 staff members out of 35 that needed to be certified. Now our Social Workers, Community Health Workers, and our kitchen staff have their CPR certifications, thanks to SVMHS. There was so much positive feedback about the training facilitator. Jennifer comes with over 30 years of experience working in emergency medical services as a paramedic. Her training offered a step-by-step process that allowed the staff to comfortably follow along and not only understand the process but to also allow us to effectively apply the skills we learned. A bonus Jennifer added was real world scenarios that we may face. The experience she has gained in her career gave us a better understanding of how we can be more successful when applying our CPR training here at Dorothy’s Place.
Knowing CPR is an important skill for everyone
to have, it can save a life. Dorothy’s Place staff
knows this all too well working in the Chinatown
community. Too often, we have had to use our CPR training, sometimes on a daily basis. We know how
(Continued on page 2)
Jill Allen, Executive Director
For decades, Dorothy’s Place, and many other similar organizations, have offered to fill basic needs in “homeless”
consumers – food, water,
sanitation, warmth when it is cold, rest through day shelters and overnight shelters, and safety and security, at least temporarily. We referred people to other services, we developed associations with other service providers, we did everything expected of us as a basic needs service provider. We also saw over decades that very little was improving for the people that we sought to serve. In fact, we saw their children
and grandchildren trapped in the same chronically unsheltered hellholes of encampment life. The
numbers of homeless consumers continued to grow, despite the basic needs service and referrals. We needed to do better. We didn’t know how.
Nevertheless, we did have some things going for
us: we knew to treat those we wished to serve with empathy as human beings that had survived more trauma than we could ever imagine, and we did work hard to maintain a servant’s mentality, with humility and lack of arrogance. This allowed us to get closer to our consumers and learn more of their needs, wants and desires. We explored a relatively unknown (at least locally) strategy of service called Trauma-Informed Care and found it very useful and aligned with our goals. We also had to practice our skills in maintaining professional boundaries, so as not to disappoint our consumers and not get totally burned out ourselves, since the service requires a certain intensity and even intimacy as we learned about their lives, in their own words, on their own terms. Ultimately, the greatest lesson we learned is that the power of developed relationships with our consumers trumps everything.
Rhonda and her family were trapped, living a
dangerous, unhealthy life but not qualifying for
government-sponsored assistance. Dale had a deep distrust of any help offered, and a deep need to be valued as a contributing individual. Jimmy & Diane were convinced that they themselves were the problem. If trust relationships had been formed sooner, Rhonda and her girls could have never been homeless. Dale might not have spent half his life sheltered in a tent on an irrigation ditch. Jimmy & Diane could have been recognized as having strength as a couple and could have been managing a small group of apartments instead of spending decades medicating a cold, hard encampment existence with heroin.
So as we endeavor to use what we have learned,
how do we create a planned progression for chronically unsheltered consumers from unsafe, de-humanizing encampment life to a life that is safer, and less dependent upon public services? How do we create a social solution that respects that consumer trust and consumer choice?
We do this by respecting that the relationship built with the consumer is paramount, and the focus of the effort. In this plan, the primary progression is the development of the trust relationship, and it is respected as different for every consumer. We can measure the progression with markers – milestones in the development of consumer trust. The individual consumer achievement of milestones informs the second progression, which is supportive services brought to the consumer, where they are, and when they are ready. This tier of supportive services is secondary to the primary progression, and presents itself in the form of “the right work, at the right time, with the right person (service provider)”.
The primary progression of the development of
the trust relationship is broken into phases with
these descriptors: Introductory Phase, Test Phase, Initial Trust, Intake Phase, Bridge Phase, Case Management Phase, Housing, Isolation Support, and After Care. The amount of time the consumer takes to progress through the phases is irrelevant, as is the direction of their progression. It is expected that a consumer might proceed forward into positive trust one week, only to step back to a previous phase before progressing forward once again. We would expect, however, that a skilled case manager could, by respecting what motivates their consumer, assist their consumer to move in a forward progression.
If you were to graph the phases of relationship
development as markers on an “X” axis, the “Y” axis would be the consumer’s needs, wants and desires. Taking our cue from Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the markers on this axis are Basic Needs, Personal Safety, Health (physical and psychological) and Shelter.
Where the relationship development and the
consumer’s needs intersect are where we expect the support of the second tier, which we’ll refer to as the new Continuum of Care, with “the right work (service) at the right time (relationship phase) with the right person (appropriate service provider).
If what I’m writing causes you to question the
system, or to question me, please let me know at
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System’s
Forward Vision (continued from page 1)
crucial it is to apply our CPR training effectively
while we wait for the paramedics to arrive.
For the last couple of years, Dorothy’s Place
social workers have built a special relationship with SVMHS’s lead social worker, Kim De Serpa and the Emergency Department Patient Experience Coordinator Jesse Hernandez to help unsheltered individuals that are hospitalized. Jesse has reached out to us for something as simple as asking if we can go to an Emergency Department patient’s tent to check on their pet. The patient was concerned that their pet was alone and they would only agree to get the vital care they need if they know that their pet was being cared for.
Kim and our social workers have a more difficult
task: finding shelter for unsheltered patients that
are about to be released from the hospital.
Every way we tend to our unsheltered community, large or small, is important. Having the skills, such as CPR and coordinated housing navigation, is crucial. We are so thankful to all the Education Support Coordinators that helped arrange the training class schedules to accommodate our team and for Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System’s generosity and forward vision in coordinated care for our unsheltered community.
David Ligare & Gary Smith
De La Salle High School, Concord, CA
John & Kimberly Beardshear
Kathy & Sheri Dawes
Lim Family Enterprises
Marina Motorsports, Inc.
Michael & Ann Briley
Robert J. Brandewie
Salinas Valley Communtiy Church
Santa Fe Mercados Inc
Sturdy Oil Company
Thomas A. Kieffer
Thomas R. Prelle
Woodward Fund, Bank of America,
Yellow Bus, LLC
Carlos C. Lopez
Dorothy L. Becker
Martin A. Vonnegut
Order of Malta, Western Association
Ron & Linda Borgman
Sunset Cruise for Dorothy’s Place –
F. Robert Nunes Family Fund of
Community Foundation for
Community Foundation for
Monterey County Dept of Social Services
Monterey County Whole Person Care
Salinas Housing & Community
Sousa Family Trust
Just in time for your holiday shopping! When you start at www.amazon.smile and choose Franciscan Workers as your charity, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to Dorothy’s Place Hospitality Center!
We are grateful for the many ways in which you support us!
How do I shop with AmazonSmile?
To use AmazonSmile, go to www.amazon.smile on your web browser or activate AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping app on your iOS or Android phone within the Settings or Programs & Features menu. On your web browser, you can add a bookmark to smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and start your shopping with AmazonSmile.
How do I activate AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping app?
AmazonSmile is available for Amazon customers with the latest version of the Amazon Shopping app on their mobile phone, including Android devices with version 7.0+ or iOS devices with version 12+. To activate AmazonSmile in the Amazon Shopping app, simply tap on “AmazonSmile” within the Programs &
Features menu or Settings and follow the on-screen instructions.
How do I select Dorothy’s Place as my charity of choice?
The first time you login to www.amazon.smile, you will be asked to select a charitable
organization. Use the Search tool to find “Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra” and select it. Now, each time you login to Amazon Smile, you’ll be donating .5% of the purchase price of your items to Dorothy’s Place!
Make Every Day Homelessness Awareness Day
This year, National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week was observed on Saturday, November 13th. It has been observed for nine days starting the second Saturday in November since 1975.
We have an even greater opportunity ahead! While the nine days of awareness
was over on November 22nd, there are still 365 days in a year. Why not make EVERY day an opportunity to be aware and present for people that live unsheltered? Here’s how, and if you can think of another way to be present for our unsheltered community, email us and we’ll publish it – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ways to be aware, everyday:
• Consider hiring an unsheltered person or
a House of Peace resident at your place of business.
• Organize a blanket drive.
• Donate gift certificates to use as consumer incentives.
• Landlords, consider renting to a formerly unsheltered person with a voucher (we case manage your tenant for a year).
• Celebrate “Christmas in July”! Collect clothing, hygiene supplies and gifts to distribute in the summer.
• Bring YOUR expertise to Dorothy’s — we need people of varying backgrounds to be part of planning for the future of Dorothy’s Place.
• Get your local church or civic group to write a letter to the mayor/city council about the value of our organization to the community.
• Volunteer your time in Dorothy’s Kitchen, the Dorothy’s Drop-In Center or House of Peace Transitional Living Program
• Sponsor a rain gear drive at your place of employment (slickers,
umbrellas, tarps and ponchos).
• Offer a free service to a guest — manicure, haircut, legal consultation,
and counseling — whatever you can offer!
• When you see someone living unsheltered, take time to speak with
them and validate their existence as a human being.