This post got buried amongst another post from Shari and Mike who "desperately needed financial help" several weeks ago, maybe even in Dec. I checked to see how much had been contributed to their "Chip in" account, and the total was $65. They needed $400 to cover their rent. Over 700 Wacco members viewed their post. I'm curious about what some of our community members think when they read these true life stories, that aren't on "reality TV", but lived in reality, in our local community.

I checked in with them yesterday, and they posted a reply to Wacco, and also to me personally, which you can read if you're interested.

I'm planning to collect personal stories of people who are now living on the fringe: the
triggering event that began a domino effect that changed the lives of (identify number of adults/ages of children) where they were (employed, home and/or business owners) before it all happened, what their response was, (after denial, anger, grief, and acceptance,) where they went for help, and the help they've received, (both financial and good/services) from both social services and individuals, and their up to date status.

Also, for those who respond, let me know if you have
anything that could be bartered or sold, please list those items in detail. Also, most importantly......your "greatest need" at this time. Be as specific as possible: example, if it's "housing", indicate preferred area (especially with kids in school) for number of people, and amount you can pay in rent. Also indicate what your skills/talents are that could be used for work trade.

If you're among those living on the fringe, and would be open to being interviewed, and possibly video-taped for YouTube, please answer the preceeding questions, in a personal email to me at:
[email protected] Keep it as simple as possible, since I will be doing this on my own, until I'm able to gather assistance in this project.

You will not have to reveal your identity or show your face if you choose not to. This is not a plea for financial help or an offer for that, but simply a documentary on some community members who live on the "fringe". If you choose to share your personal information, you may be able to receive donations. Please also share what community resources have been helpful for you. I know there are many resources out there, but I don't know the full scope of everything that's available. This could be your way of helping others, and may return to you full circle.

Up close and personal: a true story

I'm trying to help a homeless family, who beg every day to try to get enough money for a room for the night and food. They have no car, and very few minutes on their cell phone to make calls. We communicate by text, and when I see them at the Raley's shopping center near Commerce and Expressway, and also at the Target center on Expressway.

Although there are a lot of resources, it's difficult to get to them without a car or phone service. The motel they've been in didn't even have wifi, so the 11yr. old boy couldn't do his homework. The 6 yr old girl seems happy with colored pens and paper to create artwork. KIds are very resiliant, but these things take a toll. They are aware of the stress in their family.

My car has become a mobile food bank for them, and they take what they can carry on their backs. I continue to share food with them from our pantry, and help them move their belongings, but I'm unable to transport them, because I'm low on funds for gas myself.

It's been suggested that I ask for donations from our Wacco community, but in my past experience with people needing help, who were in desperate circumstances, I didn't see much response. I don't judge this. Everyone has their reasons for not helping people in need.
I see the most help given by those who have experienced homelessness themselves, or share the own meager resources.

Wealthy people generally give to organizations, and benefit from the tax write off. I prefer to give directly, because that way I know that my money isn't being spent on salaries and marketing. But then I'm not wealthy, so my perspectives are different.

My motto is "Give, like no one's looking....." When I see these people, I give whatever I can, without judgement. When I first saw this family, at a shopping center exit near Expressway and Commerce in RPk, I had only 50 cents to my name, and a nearly empty gas tank. I told the mother that I usually carry a few dollars on my dash, but I didn't even have a dollar to give her.

I was inspired to circle back, and stop to talk with her. I had a notebook, and pen, so I brought them with me to stand with her, while I asked these questions: What happened? Who are you? Names of family, ages of children, where they're staying, are the kids in school? Are they getting social services help? Is either parent working? Do they have a working cell phone, computer? How do the kids get to school in Sebastopol, where they've gone for years? And, what is their greatest need at this time?

The family that I'm helping had their car and all their belongings impounded due to expired registration, just before Thanksgiving. The policeman left them on the street, with whatever they could carry. The mother said "We haven't done anything wrong. It's because we don't have money." The policeman isn't at fault, he was just doing his job....."To Protect and Serve."

My friend said recently "They need to get a job!" Yes, this would be helpful. They'd like to get one, too. Imagine for a moment that you've lost your home, your car, and your belongings.... except those you can carry on your back. You can't use your cell phone because you don't have money to buy minutes, and you have no access to the internet. You walk everywhere, with backpacks and bags that have essentials to keep you warm as the cold comes while you stand, hoping for a few dollars to pay for a room in a motel. You don't have a credit card, so some motels won't even rent you a room for the night. You are at the mercy of "strangers" who may think that you have "chosen" to be homeless, or that you "should get a job".

Suggestions are welcome for this common scenario, for individuals and families in our own community. Being homeless means being on the other side of the "law", and rarely brings a compassionate response from those who are trained to "protect and serve."

We know that many people live without much money, and one of our members has been doing this for many years, but you can't barter with the DMV for car registration, or for that matter with anyone else...when your essential belongings have been impounded in your car, and you know that each day adds another $30 to the impound fee, for a car that doesn't even have the value of the fees.

So, the kids travel from the motel, by bus to and from school in Sebastopol, where they've gone for years. The parents don't want to pull the kids out of school, since it's the only stability they have.

So, please tell me what comes up for you?

If you're one of the 700 people who looked at Shari and Mike's post, or one of the over 400 who looked at another post last winter, from a family who was running out of propane which they used to heat water for bathing, to cook with, and to heat their home. They had to keep the windows open because of the propane fumes which occur when the tank is nearly empty. They asked for donations to be sent to BlueStar Propane company before the deadline, which would mean if it wasn't paid by then, the propane company would add another $200 fee for an unscheduled delivery. The amount needed was $200 to fill their tank, and days went by with no donatations, but hundreds of views of this post. I continued to post requests for help, and finally the deadline arrived, and a few donations had trickled in.

We are a community of over 11,000 people. I know that most of us aren't active participants. Barry may have actual statistics on the number of frequent users. But when I see so many views of a post that's a desperate plea for help, I want to ask.....
What comes up for you?

What comes up for me is that......
my cracks open!

But I realize that doesn't help anything or anyone. So, I do my best to move outside of my emotional response, to one of direct action. I have a need to see the results of my efforts, no matter how small or insignificant they may appear to others. I know that just "listening" can have a profound effect, and I hope that I'll always be able to offer that gift as part of my life purpose, which is a priority to be able to
"Encourage, Inspire, and support." I hope that each day brings an opportunity for all of us to live our own life purpose, as we know and believe it to be.

If you've read this far, I congratulate you on getting to the end, which hopefully is just a beginning....