Hundreds of Homeless Served at “One Stop Shop”

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4:14 am | October 16, 2013

From pushing a shopping cart to now renting an apartment in the rags to riches mantra, people like Richard Woznick were incredibly thankful for the resources made available by a collaboration of Pasadena agencies spearheaded by Union Station Homeless Services, Pacific Clinics Passageways and the Salvation Army at the fifth annual one-stop shop “Homeless Connect Day” on Tuesday.

Woznick benefited from mental health services and a bed at Union Station over three years ago and now lives in one of their apartments at Centennial. Yet he and others who have been eradicated from homelessness require continued assistance.

On Tuesday in four hours about 80 social service providers delivered 3,000 services to more than 300 homeless individuals. Ranging from psychological, to physical and spiritual care, services like medical, dental and vision screenings, and housing placement referrals were available as well as a haircut, showers, id vouchers, pet therapy and a nourishing meal.

“In these days, the tough economic times, the resources that we have as agencies is getting tighter, so its much more important that we work together as a community to help fulfill the needs. When were together, we can stretch our resources together, make the dollars stretch further for more people . This is such a powerful event for that,” Salvation Army Corps Officer Darren Norton Major said.

Union Station made 10 beds available for people who came to the event in need of a bed and an estimated 10 more homeless from the event were also provided a bed Tuesday evening.

“Some people a hair cut is all they need, but we really hope there are some folks we can get off the streets,” Major Norton said.

The real hope is to eradicate homelessness. According to recent Los Angeles Housing Services Authority (LAHSA) and City of Pasadena Housing Department findings, more than 55,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County on any given night – including more than 750 in Pasadena alone.

“Our hope is that every year numbers go down rather than up, but with the way things are right now with the economy, it’s hard,” Program Director of Pacific Clinics Peggy Baddim said.

Five years ago, Michael Collins came to the first “Homeless Connect Day.” After being homeless for 20 years, he came ready to receive life-changing help to transition out of homelessness.

“Five years ago today, I came here with my pet raccoon and the Salvation Army and Pacific Clinics helped change my life. I was a drug addict and they enrolled me in the 12 steps of recovery program,” Michael Collins said.

Now he lives at “Home for Life” in South Central LA and is incredibly surprised by the turnaround in his life that allows him to live in retirement with the help of a wonderful case manager.

“That’s why its cool having him here today because he was at that first one and he changed his life around… and now he’s back in a productive place in society. We do this for people like him,” Major Norton said.

Woznick from the earlier story was simply thankful to be off the streets like Collins, “I always had the fundamental belief I was important.”

Margarita Alvaris was simply happy to get a free lunch and a free Glucose and blood pressure test because she is a pre-diabetic.

“It’s nice to have it all in one place because usually you have to make an appointment, and it can be so difficult,” Alvaris said.

More than anything, Major Norton emphasized that the day was a collaboration of a community effort. While each organization gets one piece of the puzzle, only together can they offer a great source of hope.

Truly the whole community pitched in to make the event happen. Firefighters grilled the meal, the chef from Grand View oversaw the meal, the parking structure down the street donated free parking for the event. Students volunteered their time with Pasadena City College giving haircuts and more than 100 Azusa Pacific University social work students performing intakes.

Students also greeted each person and walked him or her through the services on a tour so that the homeless person could see what was available to meet their needs.

“It’s been a really good experience so far, talking to people and hearing their stories to see what the need of the distressed are,” Azusa Pacific senior Rebecca Kay said.

John Hughes was more than thrilled to have been given a zipping bag to put his bedding into so it would not get wet. Saying “They sure helped me” he asked whether or not passersby liked his new haircut that he tried to get used to.

“It’s about individuals, its about that one person or that one child and if we can give them that next step up or a little bit of hope, a place of shelter, food box, a hair cut, whatever they need,” Major Norton said.