Participants in local movement prioritize Y-S community needs
Mark Willis recalled a lifetime of struggle from his childhood to the time that service providers turned their back on him when he was homeless and needed help the most.
He also recalled moving into transitional housing with his wife, Regina, abandoning his addiction and getting his life back on track.
The discussion with formerly homeless Yuba-Sutter residents was part of a community collaboration Wednesday to address homeless issues during the second annual Homeless Summit.
School officials, residents-at-large and members of the local medical community joined with nonprofits, churches and government service agencies at the event. The group brainstormed ideas and came up with a refined list of seven priorities to focus on in 2007.
The discussion with formerly homeless individuals gave participants an idea about everyday struggles the homeless face.
“I thought the whole world was against me,” Willis said. “Now I'm trying to pick up the pieces of what's left of my life and try to make work.”
Panel members said they had experienced painful things in their lives, many which contributed to their loss of home.
Addictions, unemployment and physical, mental, sexual and domestic abuse are all things that can contribute to homelessness, panel members said.
Audience members thought programs addressing these underlying issues should be a top priority for future work.
More emergency shelters were also recognized as a top priority. In Yuba-Sutter there are no emergency drop-in shelters for women and children and only one for men.
“We need to have a rescue mission that serves men and women and children,” said Ron Brasier, pastor of A Hand-Up Ministries. “We need to jump on this and take care of it as brothers and sisters in the community.”
The consortium came up with seven priorities to focus on in 2007. Participants were encouraged to sign up to be on subcommittees and work on future projects.