Volunteers needed to assist at event to help the homeless
By Paul Kruze
May 26, 2017 (El Cajon) --As the sun sets in the west behind surrounding mountains, some 700 people get ready to bed down every night on the asphalt streets of El Cajon. The roof over their heads is the night sky glowing with pillars of street lights and neon signs. They end up living on the streets for a dozen of reasons, including, bad life decisions, abusive relationships, drugs and alcohol, mental illness, and unemployment.
But for four hours on Friday, June 2nd from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. things might look a little brighter.
Sponsored by the Grossmont Health Care District, Grossmont Center, and Crisis House, East County Project Homeless Connect and Crisis House will hold an open house at Rock Church (808 Jackman St. near the Marshall’s department store) for homeless individuals to get help with housing, medical ( including HIV testing and a mobile medical unit), help with legal issues, government access (Social Security, Veteran’s assistance, DMV), and personal assistance (haircuts, hygiene kits, personal storage, pet sitting, massages, socks). In addition, access to substance abuse and mental health services, and MediCal/CalFresh enrollment will be available at the event. Free backpacks and box lunches will be available while supplies last. Those seeking assistance are encouraged to check-in at 9:30 a.m. for when doors open for the event at 10 a.m.
In prior years. the open house was held at the Ronald Reagan Community Center near downtown El Cajon. Due to construction issues, however, the event is being held this year at the Rock Church in El Cajon. “We’re going to see how it goes over there,” says Mary Case, Executive Director of Crisis House, an El Cajon community resource center for needy individuals. “We hope that we can return to the Reagan Community Center in the future.” Rock Church is not a sponsor of the event, but is providing space..
According to Case, the number of homeless in East County San Diego is up three percent over last year, citing statistics from the San Diego County Regional Task Force On The Homeless. “The [estimated] number of sheltered and non-sheltered homeless people is 685. El Cajon by itself had a 4.3 percent increase in the number of sheltered and non-sheltered homeless people in the past year,” she said. Case added that the number of homeless are counted at 4 a.m. in the morning. “The counters are generally not getting out of their cars to count them. There are two people in the car – one driving and the other does the counting in the general areas of El Cajon where they are known to be at like in vehicles, out in the open,” she said.
Up to 77 percent of homeless in San Diego are actually from the San Diego area, she noted. “A lot of people don’t think that’s the case – but this is what the survey data shows us.”
According to a study by the Center on Policy Initiatives, El Cajon had the highest poverty rate among the four East County cities from 2011 to 2015.
Volunteers are needed for the event, says Case. “We are looking for volunteers to escort the guests to all the 36 different services at this resource fair. It’s important that they arrive by 8:30 a.m. to register.” Interested volunteers should email Cathy De La Cruz firstname.lastname@example.org. No advanced training is required.
WHO: EAST COUNTY PROJECT HOMELESS CONNECT
WHAT: HOMELESS RESOURCE EVENT
WHERE: Rock Church, 808 Jackman Street, El Cajon. (near Marshall’s)
WHEN: Friday, June 2, 2017, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Client check-in: 9:30 a.m.)
MORE INFORMATION: Crisis House (619) 444-1194
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Contact Cathy De La Cruz email@example.com