My name is Maylee Melo and I’m an Outreach Case Manager at Hospitality House. My role is to work with people who are unsheltered; living on the streets or in the forest. I help them to get their immediate needs met and then connect them with the resources available to them, so they can work their way back to permanent housing. When meeting a new client, my first objective is to assess and address any concerns regarding the person’s health and safety. Sometimes that means seeking medical attention, offering food and water, or helping them get a phone so they can reach out for help. As we build rapport, and the person is in a more stable place with shelter, we work to recover critical records like IDs, birth certificates or Social Security cards and to obtain any applicable financial assistance. I may also help them to write a resume, drive them to a doctor’s appointment or job interview, and help them apply for permanent housing. Today, I’d like to share about the outreach work I’ve done with a client who I’ll refer to as Veronica.
One cold and rainy day in December I received a call from a local organization reporting that a 60-year-old woman was camping in front of their property. As I approached her campsite it was easy to see that Veronica and her dog, Reggie, were extremely defensive and fearful. Veronica wasn’t interested in my help at first. She looked stressed and disheveled. After taking the time to explain what I could help her with, Veronica started to come around. A warm, dry place to spend the night sounded awfully appealing. She shared that on the streets, “you can’t show weakness or people will take advantage of it.” That night I was able to secure a spot for Veronica at the Crisis Stabilization Unit, and Community Beyond Violence was able to give her a hotel voucher for the following night.
When I arrived to pick her up from the hotel, I hardly recognized the woman who answered the door. Veronica was clean and calm, she had tidied up her room and her belongings. The night without the stress of keeping herself safe in the woods or on the street had done wonders for her. Earlier in her life, Veronica had suffered intense domestic violence, leaving her with PTSD, anxiety and severe depression, so safety and security were luxuries for her. And with no family left to lean on, she didn’t really trust anyone.
In fact, it took me a couple weeks to convince Veronica to stay at Utah’s Place, Hospitality House’s emergency shelter. Until then, we were bouncing from one emergency housing option to another. From her first night at the shelter on, Veronica started to feel more hopeful about the goal of long-term housing. With my assistance, she established care with a primary physician and a psychologist. Next, she re-applied for Social Security assistance and as soon as that income is secured, she will apply for permanent housing.
To help Veronica, and people like her who are without long-term housing, please consider joining our Hearts & Hands Club. Hearts & Hands Club is a group of wonderful people who donate every month to support the efforts of Hospitality House. Club donations are allocated toward the greatest needs each month, including but not limited to shelter, food, clothing, outreach, case management, and help with permanent housing. You can become an honored club member by donating as little as $5 per month and change a life in the process. This month we have an ambitious goal to welcome 28 new Hearts & Hands Club members in just 28 days. Please consider becoming our next member and sign up at https://hhshelter.org/donate/
A big thank you to the cook team, Repeat Offenders, who came in yesterday to serve up their delicious ground beef marinara pasta, vegetables, salad, garlic bread and dessert—always a crowd favorite! Also, we continue to express gratitude for George Dunstan and Bill Blount for their ongoing spiritual support at Utah’s Place and Sierra Guest Home. If you’d like to volunteer, individually or with a group, we welcome you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 615-0852.
Now down to the shelter’s wish list of the week:
- Twin-size blankets – URGENT NEED
- Pain relievers (Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin, etc.) –New & Unopened – URGENT NEED
- New pillows (we are unable to accept used)
- Men’s winter coats, jackets and hoodies (all – sizes; no women’s attire at this time)
- Granola bars
NEW DONATION HOURS AND DROPOFF LOCATION: With construction finally complete at our shelter, effective immediately, donations from our needs list above and all unexpired/store-bought foods are now being accepted at Utah’s Place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30am – 3:30pm and Saturdays from 10am – 2pm. Our shelter is located 1262 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945. We greatly appreciate the community’s help at such times of uncertainty. In the words of Utah Phillips, “If we all stick together, we’ll get what we need.” Thank you!