Summer Challenges and Needs of Those Without Homes

During the week long heat wave in June,  Sierra Roots housed eight very sick and needy homeless  folks a the cost of $2083.  These were sick people, just out of the hospital, a mother and seven month o ld baby who were both sick with flu-like symptoms, a man with painful kidney stones who was waiting to have surgery and a pregnant woman who was dehydrated, over heated and confused as well as  two men waiting to enter rehab and were trying to stay sober and safe. The  summer heat with no place to get any respite is particularly hard on these very vulnerable people. They go to the hospital ED, are treated and then released  to the streets or camps with no place to recover.  
     The other challenge of summer living without a home are the bugs, mosquitoes, snakes, spiders and other dangerous insects that cause infectious bites that can turn into very life-threatening situations.
     While the constant rain and cold of this last winter season endangered all our chronically homeless population, the summer heat, fire danger and insect invasion is also a serious threat. Until  Sierra Roots can provide a Community Center and small living quarters, for people who are without homes, we see and know the suffering of these very fragile people.
     Many of you have asked how you can help, and what you can do to address this situation. The following are items you can bring to our Thursday meals in Pioneer Park at 11:30.  We bless you and thank you for your continued generosity.

We need:
Bug Spray - a carton or large box of it to give away to all
Sun Lotion -  for up to thirty people
Tank Tops for men and women
Shorts or light weight pants

We can always use donations towards housing people in motels while they are sick.

Empathy through Art:   Connecting with the Humanity of Homelessness
by Betty Louise

      What if we did not feel like avoiding homeless people on the streets? What if you felt brave enough to start a conversation and get to know someone who does not have a home? How might that affect the solutions?
     These are questions that I wonder about. Two years ago, I moved to Nevada County, and during the first heavy rain here in November of 2015 happened while I was caring for my sister's dog. When I took Shambo for a walk, I notice numerous people setting up encampments. Some were holding a tarp over their head and others had a chair turned upside down to protect them from the storm. As I tried to quickly move through this area walking my sister's large black male greyhound, a soaked and disheveled man walked toward me and said "Hope that dog isn't a male. My dog doesn't like males!."  My immediate response was fear...then heartbreak.  

Betty Louise is Co-Founder of The CoPassion Project, and an Author, Certified Coach, US Radio Personality, and a Certified Broadcaster at KVMR in Nevada City, California. Her current project, "A Place to Call Home," uses the arts to connect with the story and humanity of homeless people.
Students Help Out

     A few months since launching an effort to help homeless people by repurposing plastic bags to create sleeping mats,  Yuba River Charter School students presented their work. 
     After gathering piles of plastic bags, seventh-grade students created thick yarn from strips of plastic and crocheted them into 3 foot by 6 foot sleeping mats for homeless people. Each mat takes around 500 plastic grocery bags to complete. Representatives from Sierra Roots recently visited the school to receive the mats on behalf of Nevada County Pets of the Homeless & Families in Need. 

"This was such a successful project that I will continue to have local service projects which have an environmental component as a staple of the seventh-grade Handwork curriculum moving forward," said Deanna Ronningen, practical arts instructor. "I am so very proud of the work and pride each of these students brought to supporting their community."  Read More:

Many facets of Homelessness
Discussed at Grass Valley Forum

    They shared their questions and concerns about the homeless: "I don't feel safe." "I'm concerned about the trash." "What do I tell my children when they're afraid?" An expert was on hand Friday evening to address those and other issues. 
    "What we all  have in common is humanity," Janice O'Brien told the 20-plus crowd at Wolf Creek Lodge, a senior co-housing community on Freeman Lane in Grass Valley.  Janice O'Brien is President of Sierra Roots, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the needs of Nevada County's chronically homeless population. The gathering was one in a series of community forums organized by Betty Louise and Susan Davis, co-creators of "A Place to Call Home," a multimedia project designed to inspire a sense of inclusion with homeless people.    Read More:

Lorraine Jewett, Special to The Union

Sierra Roots Advocacy Team Update

      Sierra Roots knows that healing and new directions for a chronically homeless person all begins with the formation of a trusting relationship.  "Whether outreach is done on the streets or in an apartment, the helping process is always interpersonal."
Jay Levy in  Pretreatment Guide for Homeless Outreach and Housing First.           
     Sierra Roots has begun a six week  9 hour training through July.  We will have another training in the fall of 2017.  Trainees will be introduced to the "meet them as they are" philosophy and the profile of the chronically homeless population we work with. Then all agencies, non-profits, legal and medical contact persons will be introduced.  Stories and experiences of those who have worked with this population will be shared. Possible situations will be role played.  Mental Health Crisis Intervention will be presented. Substance abuse understanding and where and how to recognize and find help for dual diagnosis addiction and mental illness. How to determine job skills and where to go to help get a resume done and how to look for jobs will be offered. Finally, an Advocate will be assigned to an individual who wants someone to help them through all the layers of agency difficulties to get SSI or SSDI funding if they are eligible.  Becoming a helpful friend who does not try to "fix" the person, but offers knowledge and encouragement through all the ups and downs of getting back on a path to health and wholeness is what Advocacy is all about.  
    Sierra Roots is introducing this program as an immediate way to help our homeless people while working towards building a supportive community Village. If you are interested in becoming an advocate, please contact Janice O'Brien at 530 265-5403 to register for the September training.
Project Development Team Update

     June was a busy month for the PDT. We scouted land options for the sustainable, supportive micro-community with permanent housing, narrowed the choices to a parcel within the Nevada City limits, met with City officials, and began the feasibility studies for the favored parcel. 
     Design development will begin in July, using the co-creative process of "Charrette", bringing stakeholders to the table to engage in the process. Stakeholders include several of the future residents of the community.  Project Development Team meetings for July will be on Monday, July 10th  and 17th  at  6:00 p.m.  

Contact us for more information:  *  (530) 264-5113

    Grant WritingTeam Update
Sierra Roots com pleted a grant application to Sierra Health Foundation midJune. We proposed a one-to-one advocacy program, and have already begun some initial training of advocates by Janice O'Brien. We are very excited to provide this  gre ater quality of care for our Sierra Roots population. We will find out about the grant in late August.

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Next Monthly Volunteer Meeting Thursday,  
July 13th, Thursday,  at 1 PM
First Methodist Church ~ 433 Broad Street, Nevada City  *  530 264-5113

     Our monthly meetings are intended for those who are just becoming acquainted with Sierra Roots and want to learn more about the various volunteer opportunities and for those already involved to keep you all up to date, informed and involved in discussion and planning.

     Not everyone  is aware of the many ways Sierra Roots engages and builds community with our homeless friends while we continue to look for land for our Village.  We'll talk about some of the lesser known volunteer opportunities at this meeting also.

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