By Christo­pher Oak Reinier

Erica talks to wccs staffstaff listen to Ercia Azimov reportEri­ca Azi­mov, WCCS’ Rapid Re-Hous­ing Case Man­ag­er, described the pro­gram to her fel­low staff mem­bers at the all-staff meet­ing on Wednes­day, Jan­u­ary 24. The pro­gram is fund­ed with mon­ey pre­vi­ous­ly intend­ed for a per­ma­nent home­less shel­ter in West Coun­ty.  It is now being used to help vul­ner­a­ble indi­vid­u­als obtain hous­ing or to keep the hous­ing they already have. Eri­ca ini­ti­at­ed the pro­gram in Novem­ber. To date, she has housed 5 indi­vid­u­als who were pre­vi­ous­ly home­less and kept anoth­er 15 indi­vid­u­als from becom­ing home­less. She is present­ly work­ing with 33 indi­vid­u­als, 23 adults and 10  chil­dren. The pro­gram pro­vides tem­po­rary help for low-income peo­ple in urgent but tem­po­rary need, indi­vid­u­als, and fam­i­lies whom it is expect­ed will be able to sus­tain their hous­ing on their own after receiv­ing the tem­po­rary assis­tance.

In oth­er mat­ters, Jean­nette Par­ros, Senior Case Man­ag­er, is assist­ing 36 elder­ly clients, some them­selves either home­less or in dan­ger of home­less­ness.

Tim Miller, WCCS Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, announced that Debra John­son has been named Pres­i­dent of the WCCS Board of Direc­tors. Pre­vi­ous­ly pres­i­dent of the Guerneville Cham­ber of Com­merce, Debra has been active in the sup­port of the dis­ad­van­taged in West Coun­ty for many years.

Emi­ly Heinzel­man, Direc­tor of Employ­ment and Oper­a­tions at the Senior Cen­ter, report­ed that San­ta Rosa Junior Col­lege is offer­ing Adult exten­sion cours­es at the Cen­ter in mem­oir writ­ing, art, and cur­rent affairs. The Mar­shall House is being repaint­ed. There will be a Chi­nese New Year lun­cheon on Feb­ru­ary 16. Vic­ki Hal­stead, Senior Cen­ter Man­ag­er, is attend­ing a con­fer­ence in Austin, Texas with the Red­wood Empire Food Bank. The con­fer­ence is about hunger and food dis­tri­b­u­tion.

Cat Hamer, Pro­gram Aide at the Empow­er­ment Cen­ter report­ed that two new groups are being offered. One is a cog­ni­tive behav­ioral ther­a­py group and the oth­er a med­i­ta­tion group. Both are well-attend­ed. Miller Phoenix, Empow­er­ment Cen­ter Pro­gram Man­ag­er, told the staff about the art projects she has orga­nized in jew­el­ry mak­ing and the pro­duc­tion of a fash­ion show. Mem­bers have real­ly got­ten into the work that involves art, music, sewing, and per­for­mance.

Phillip Tapia, WCCS Hous­ing Case Man­ag­er, report­ed on the com­put­er class­es being offered at Petaluma Avenue Homes in Sebastopol. Twen­ty res­i­dents have tak­en the cours­es and received a free lap­top. The pro­gram is offered by the Afford­able Hous­ing Asso­ci­a­tion locat­ed in Berke­ley. Phillip is help­ing three spe­cial needs res­i­dents with the cours­es.

Dan­nielle Dan­forth, WCCS Direc­tor of Hous­ing, informed the staff that the Emer­gency Shel­ter has already served 120 dif­fer­ent indi­vid­u­als, pro­vid­ing beds and food for an aver­age of 50 home­less indi­vid­u­als each night.

At Vil­lage Park in Sebastopol since Sep­tem­ber five homes have been pro­vid­ed for pre­vi­ous­ly home­less per­sons, and fund­ing has been obtained for three more units. After school activ­i­ties are being offered to the many young peo­ple who live at the park. An effort is being made to devel­op a play­ground. A large mobile unit has been obtained for a com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter and office for Paulette Hall, WCCS Senior Case Man­ag­er at the park.

After all, the work of West Coun­ty Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices, help­ing the dis­ad­van­taged in the west coun­ty area improve the qual­i­ty of their life, con­tin­ues in a vari­ety of ways.