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.