Another Successful Year of
SPRING 2018 ISSUE Breaking the Fast
A Guestâ€™s Story
New Partnership w/ CHAT
Meet the Staff
Volunteer & Donor Highlights
Most Need Items
Empty Bowls! A huge Shelter Shout Out to Diane Slater, Chico Unified Teachers Association, CUSD, Noon Rotary and Slater & Son for putting on another successful year of Empty Bowls. With the help of wonderful student artists, community donors and CUTA, $9,179 was raised!
Board Of Directors Rich Ober, Board Chair Tim Vander Heiden, Vice Chair
Holly Pladson, Treasurer
Alcohol & Drug Abuse
Billie Kanter, Secretary Daniel Cavanaugh Eileen Robinson Francis Cuny Lori LaRiviere
Developmental Disability Domestic Violence
Sandy Laver Terra Ayers
Executive Director Joy Amaro
Chronic Health Condition
Sleeping on the Street No Income Physical Disability
WHO WE SERVED IN THE LAST 12 MOTNTHS
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF SHELTER STAFF It takes a special kind of person to work at the Torres Community Shelter. You need kindness and compassion, firmness and resilience. Burn out is an ever present issue, especially for long term employees. Each day begins with a quick shift change meeting which helps to get staff caught up on any new guests or issues that may have arisen on the previous shift. Staff perform ‘wake up calls’ for guests that volunteer in the kitchen to prepare Breakfast for the 160 guests that are staying with us. As guests leave for the day they are encouraged to follow their case plan to seek out community resources for housing, employment, legal assistance or to address medical needs. Every day is different, staff answer phone calls, meet with clients, accept incoming donations, complete daily logs, data entry, complete facility maintenance, clean, supervise volunteers and resolve conflict. We are very fortunate to have meal service providers that are made up of a different organization each night that prepare and serve dinner for our guests. In order to maintain 24 hour coverage three staff changes occur daily at 7:45am, 3:45 PM, and 11:45 PM. Mediation and conflict resolution skills are put into good use by our staff as the shelter can be a high stress environment. Being able to diffuse situations before they become and unmanageable is a staff specialty. Being able to manage the personalities of 160 guests can be challenging but through it all, our guests tell us they are glad we are here for them, and so are we! - Joy Amaro, Executive Director -
Breaking the Fast
We are so excited that Joy has joined our team! She has spent the last 7 months really looking at the services we provide and finding the gaps! Read about one of those “gaps” that have been filled below! - Jacque, Operations Manager
It is not IHOP, Cozy Kitchen, or even MOM’s; It’s the “Breakfast Club” at the Torres Community Shelter. Through a collaborative effort of Community Action Agency of Butte County (CAA) and a retired Chico Unified School District employee, Charlotte Sturgis, the Torres Community Shelter served its first breakfast January 15, 2018. Joy Amaro, the Executive Director, recognized the need to break the fast and send our guests out for the day with a well balanced meal. Under the direction of volunteer Charlotte Sturgis, the Torres Community Shelter developed a vocational training program which includes inventory, meal planning, preparation, cooking, and sanitation. Every guest has assets to bring into the kitchen and we are strength building, stress relieving, and creatively exploring new recipes. We receive weekly deliveries of eggs, sausage, milk, onions, potatoes, and fruit from Community Action Agency North State Food bank. “The magic happens in the kitchen”, said a guest volunteer. “This gives me a sense of purpose and it is rewarding to prepare meals for over 100 people each morning”. Every guest volunteer is certified in food safety and sanitation, which has resulted in employment in local restaurants. Favorite meals include french toast, fried egg sandwiches and biscuits with home- made gravy. We even accommodate special dietary requests for gluten free and diabetic guests.
FROM HOMELESS TO MASTERS DEGREE … A FORMER GUESTS JOURNEY Single dad James, (44) sits on his couch with his son, Skylar, next to him. James has five (5) children, four of which are underage and live with him. Josh is 22, Skylar 12, Rylee 9, Madyson 6 and Adryen is 2. James grew up in Kansas with Mom, Dad and six siblings. James’ dad was disabled so the family subsisted on welfare. When James was about 10 the family moved to Redding. It was at this time James’ grandmother disclosed his “dad” was really his step dad and James biological father was MIA in Vietnam. In 2003 James’ biological father’s dog tags were found in Vietnam. He had been in the Navy. He went MIA two months before James’ birth. After graduating high school James enlisted in the Navy. James did four tours of duty in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. James was married and had Josh while still in the military. James first wife died from a debilitating disease. Due to James’ multiple deployments he suffers from severe PTSD. James remarried and had four more children. He went to college on his military education benefits and earned his Bachelors Degree in Social work. He interned working with children in the mental health field. James’ second marriage ended in divorce and James gained custody of the minor children but lost their house in the divorce. James left Redding in search of employment and ended up at the Torres Shelter with his children. His service coordinators Louise and Dani helped him get services for his seriously ill son Adryen. Adryen had a stroke while at the shelter. James and his children are in a home Executive Director Joy Amaro helped them to secure. James is grateful to Louise, Dani, Carol and Jacque for all there help. James is now one class away from a Masters in Social Work. He works with the disabled community as a job coach. The flexible work schedule fits this single dad’s schedule and allows him time with his most important job of being a strong role model for his kids. The Torres Shelter staff and volunteers wish James and his family the best of luck. Interview By: Melanie Breedlove
Gratitude Wins* Monthly Giving Program. torresshelter.org/donate
We believe in moving people forward. Your monthly gift helps us to do just that. Your support helps us provide critical services to those individuals who are ready to move their lives forward and end their cycle of homelessness. Your monthly gift helps sustain daily shelter operations, provides vital support services such as counseling, mental health and medical service referrals, veteran’s service referrals and programs designed to help secure our guests long term housing and jobs. The guests, staff and volunteers thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are grateful. *Formally people helping people (PHP)
How many times a day do you reference the word home? "Honey, I'm Home!" "Get Home Safe!" "Home Sweet Home!" Our guests at the shelter do not reference the Shelter as their home, nor should they, as it is a temporary shelter. If you ask our guests many will state that they have not had their own home for a very long time. One of the goals of the Torres Community Shelter is to place guests in permanent housing as soon as feasibly possible, this is actually an outcome measure we are required to report to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As you can imagine renting a place on your own takes some time as it is an extensive process, there's an application and fee, credit check and rental history background check, and the requirement of having three times the income, as well; AND if all goes well you can only hope you have the best application for the owner/property manager to select you because there is only a 1% occupancy rate in Chico. The situation is grim for most people, even those with 700+ credit scores. However in December 2017, the Torres Community Shelter embarked in a new collaboration with the Chico Housing Action Team, (CHAT). CHAT operates a Housing Now program, and currently holds a master lease program on 16 houses, and 5 are in collaboration with the Torres Shelter. The collaboration came about when we were looking to house 9 people that were displaced in a house fire in November 2017. Torres Community Shelter is funded by HUD to operate a rapid rehousing program, which can provide rental assistance to help get people's foot in the door, due to lack of resources, and with CHAT holding the lease, they don't conduct credit checks, and have the same requirements as other owners or property management companies would. Since December 2017, the Torres Community Shelter has entered into 5 memorandum's of understanding with CHAT, which delineates roles and responsibilities between both parties. One main responsibility of the Shelter is to provide ongoing case management to the clients we place in these homes. We wouldn't have these success stories without the wonderful partnership with CHAT, and we get to hear our clients say, "Home Sweet Home!". Joy EVICTIONS NOT ENOUGH
POOR RENTAL HISTORY
We Move People Forward
We would love to rent your property! If you would like further information on how the Master Lease program works, please contact Joy Amaro, Executive Director, at 530-891-9048.
Meet the Staff : Dani, Family Service Coordinator We asked our Guests How has it affected your stay at Torres by having a family service coordinator? “It gives us confidence in the services that are provided here. Knowing that there is somebody dedicated to the families and their unique situations. We greatly appreciate being connected to all the family centered events and classes outside of the shelter. It's nice knowing that we have an advocate for the families here.” -Marc
“Amazing! Been helping me out with my housing, resumes, jobs. Also helping me look for daycare for my kids.” - Canvis “Its helping a lot because she's helping us get on the right track. Actually, helping us with my son's special needs which is helpful. Having you guys gives us more of a voice.” - Suzie
“Its nice to have somebody you can talk to confidentially who understands the ins and outs of your situation and can give you a different point of view you may have not seen. She is a really nice person to speak with.” -Shelly
Hi my name is Dani and I am the family service coordinator here at Torres. I have been living in the Chico community for ten years now and I love all that Chico has to offer. Since I started working here at Torres I realized how many families we had coming into the shelter and I knew I wanted to be involved more. I originally started as a monitor but was moved over to the Service Coordinator position at the beginning of this year. I have experience working with children through an early childhood development program I completed through ROP (Regional Occupational Program). I also have experience working with toddler age children in private daycare facilities, as well as years of experience working collaboratively with the WIC (Women Infant Children) program. What I love about my job is working with all different ages of children. My office is inviting and has lots of toys for the kids to play with while their parents and I discuss what their goals are for the future. I also like to see the excitement when our families can report good news, such as a new job, housing or a positive report from school. We have been establishing relationships with different agencies in our community to help bring other resources to our guests. Some of these amazing partnerships have led to different offsite activities for our families. A great event the families have started attending is the Parent Café through Valley Oak Family Services, it is also sponsored by Butte County First 5. This is a fun night of games, food, arts and crafts for the kids, and some discussion time for the parents. It's also a good way for our families to meet other parents and form some new friendships. They were are providing transportation for our guests to attend this event. We are starting a new parenting/life skills class this month as another way for our guests to get more involved with their children's growth and development. I am very excited to see all the changes and different programs that are becoming a part of the structure here at Torres. I will continue working hard to make sure our children have a safe place to call home. - Dani
BEFORE We are EXCITED and proud to announce that we now have a dedicated, smoke free area for children we serve to play in!!! Before this area was complete, the only outdoor area we had was unfortunately on the patio along with the adult guests we serve. Because of this children, were often playing in areas were adults would smoke. It wasn’t an ideal space and we have been working hard for several months to make this happen. Big shout out to our Friends House Manager, Dave, and several guests for laying all the sod!!!
Volunteer Spotlight: Mandi 1. How are you involved with the shelter? How long? I coordinate and facilitate Kids Club which is an ongoing weekly activity group for children currently staying at Torres Shelter. In Kids Club, we serve children from 1 to 17 years of age and range from 1 to 20 children per group. Our flexible structure includes checking in with each child, providing a healthy snack, assisting with homework, and engaging the children in activities which often include art and other projects, reading and games. We seek to provide a safe, fun and nurturing environment contributing to the development of healthy relationships, positive social skills, emotional intelligence and academic success. My children, Savvy (age 6) and River (age 3) and I have been volunteering at the shelter for over two years. We currently have interns from Chico State who assist with our program each week - we are always seeking more volunteers to help on Mondays, 4:30-6pm.
2. What motivates you to volunteer at Torres Shelter? Volunteering in any capacity is an awesome way to give back to the community and it's great for one's own health and sense of well-being. When I moved back to Butte County, I was startled at the growth of the homeless population and I knew I should find a way to ease some of the suffering we see on our streets everyday. I'm a psychotherapist and have worked primarily with youth and I wanted to find a way to involve my own children - Kids Club is the perfect fit. I am motivated everyday to help my children practice kindness and gratitude because making such practices the norm improves life for all - small
acts can make a big impact. 3. How has your definition of homelessness changed with your experience at Torres Shelter? I now have a much clearer picture of the widely varied experiences of homelessness. The struggles our guests face each day are both shared and immensely personal; it is critical that we approach each individual with humanity and understanding of their unique life experience. When I
began volunteering, I also didn't fully understand the extent of the affordable housing deficit in Chico, and California in general, which is a primary barrier to finding a stable home for most of our individuals and families at the Shelter.
4. Big or small, what is your most memorable interaction at Torres Shelter? When you don't have a home, you can't make cookies, engage in fun projects like making slime and playdough, or color Easter eggs and construct gingerbread houses. The reactions I get from children who engage in these activities for the first time, or for the first time in a long time, are priceless.
5. We are always trying to bridge the gap between guest, community, and Torres Shelter. What would you like to see added to our services? I'd really love to see an ongoing life skills class onsite for guests who would benefit. In our society, I think we often wrongly assume that all of our families and/or schools impart adequate knowledge in areas such as budgeting, self-advocacy, meal preparation, home maintenance, healthcare management, family planning, etc. Empowering people with these skills is critical to their success and will reduce the rate of recidivism back to homelessness.
6. If you could send one message about Torres Shelter and what we do to our community, what would it be? Torres Community Shelter is truly changing lives. The Torres staff is dedicated to helping individuals and families end their experience with homelessness by providing them with compassionate care, tools, and meaningful referrals to community partners to meet their needs. Torres Shelter is not simply a place for people to sleep, shower and eat - it is a place of new beginnings and an opportunity to pursue one's goals of stability, employment and housing in a safe and supportive environment. 6
Volunteer and Event News Cats in the Community recently spent the morning doing some Spring cleaning! The students involved did everything from clearing out trash, scrubbing the showers, cleaning the street along Silver Dollar Way and the bus stop at the end of the road!
Thank You Students!
Members of the Chico Community Church, (CCC), created and delivered 37 personalized Easter baskets for Torres children this year. Torres parents also received cards from CCC and parents were able to celebrate with their children by surprising them with their baskets on Easter morning. The project was spearheaded by Carly Olsen, Director of Family Ministries in CCC's children's ministry. Members of CCC have also collaborated with Kids Club, our weekly children's group, to provide fantastic Christmas and Valentines activity events for our children. Many thanks to Chico Community Church for their ongoing support of our children and families!
Thank you to Carol Wattesburg and Patty for the donation of Easter baskets! These came in handy for the children that checked in for services the day of and even the next day! The smile of surprise on their faces were priceless!
Contact Cheryl for more info! 891-9048
Monitor Assistants/Daily Living Services Assists the Monitors in providing services for the guests. There are both morning and evening volunteer shifts available.
Meal Providers An evening meal is served each evening at 6:00 p.m. Meal Providers prep, cook, serve, and clean up. This is a great option for groups of volunteers! 7
Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage Chico Community Shelter Partnership 101 Silver Dollar Way Chico, CA 95928
PAID Chico CA Permit No. 1718
GREETINGS FROM THE TORRES COMMUNITY SHELTER Help can come in all shapes and sizes! We strive to provide our guestsâ€™ with daily hygiene and basic need items free of charge! Every penny saved for them is a step closer to housing!
The Shelter is always in need of the following items: -Shampoo -Body Wash -Deodorant -Razors and Shaving Cream -Earplugs -Towels/Twin Size Blankets -Coffee/Sugar/Creamer -Sunscreen
The spring 2018 edition of our newsletter.