By Christo­pher Oak Reinier

West Coun­ty Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices held their month­ly all-staff meet­ing on Feb­ru­ary 28. At these all-staff meet­ings, indi­vid­u­als report to each oth­er about their work. Below is a par­tial record of their reports.

Rob Mil­ton is try­ing to find final fund­ing for the pro­posed new “teach­ing” kitchen at the Russ­ian Riv­er Senior Cen­ter. The per­mits for the kitchen are almost com­plet­ed. As a part of prepar­ing the meals for seniors at the cen­ter, local chefs will teach food prepa­ra­tion and culi­nary skills to at-risk youth. The pro­gram aims at giv­ing inter­est­ed youth employ­able skills.

Dan­nielle Dan­forth and staff at the Emer­gency Shel­ter are search­ing for more sleep­ing bags, etc. The Shel­ter at the Vets Build­ing will be open one more month. The Shel­ter has been at full-occu­pan­cy almost every night this win­ter. 162 indi­vid­u­als have shel­tered there already this year, aver­ag­ing 40 to 50 each night.

Jonathan Gali­cia report­ed that fif­teen out of eigh­teen of the at-risk youth in the youth employ­ment pro­gram have found employ­ment, the high­est rate ever.

Jen­nette Per­ros, Senior Case Man­ag­er, has had three of her clients in need of home repair. She’s look­ing for vol­un­teer handy­men. And she’s find­ing that more Seniors are need­ing assis­tance to stay in exist­ing hous­ing or to find hous­ing they can afford.

Melis­sa Fike has just begun train­ing new vol­un­teers for the Senior Peer Coun­sel­ing pro­gram. The nine new peer coun­selors will grad­u­ate in May. As senior peer coun­selors, they will be meet­ing with clients who are strug­gling with the issues of aging. The issues most often involve the grief, anx­i­ety, alien­ation, and lone­li­ness caused by the many dif­fer­ent kinds of loss suf­fered by the elder­ly.

Phillip Tapia, case man­ag­er for low-income res­i­dents in more than 100 liv­ing units in west coun­ty, has been occu­pied with two fam­i­lies in par­tic­u­lar who have had to deal with the hos­pi­tal­iza­tion of a mem­ber while they are also try­ing to keep the hous­ing they have.

Milo Chap­man and Eri­ca Azi­mov have been man­ag­ing the Rapid Re-hous­ing pro­gram since Octo­ber. Since then, they have found hous­ing for eleven pre­vi­ous­ly home­less indi­vid­u­als. They have also kept twen­ty-six clients housed who were at risk of los­ing their homes. The pro­gram offers tem­po­rary assis­tance to recent­ly home­less indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies or to those who are in dan­ger of los­ing their exist­ing hous­ing.  It is aimed at those who have the like­li­hood of being able to keep their hous­ing if they get some tem­po­rary assis­tance. Cost of hous­ing is now a major prob­lem for peo­ple in the west coun­ty who are on dis­abil­i­ty.

Paulette Hall, case-man­ag­er at Park Vil­lage in Sebastopol, is hop­ing to have a com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter func­tion­ing soon. She will be work­ing with two vol­un­teer groups, “Rebuild­ing Togeth­er” and “Lend a Hand” in April to clean up the Park. Daniel Bar­wick, WCCS res­i­dent man­ag­er at Park Vil­lage, report­ed that the Park will soon have mail ser­vice.

Valerie Diaz and Miller Phoenix are work­ing on a fash­ion show and per­for­mance event with mem­bers of the Empow­er­ment Cen­ter. The show will be held May 12 at the Com­mu­ni­ty Church. They have also been devel­op­ing radio pro­grams with mem­bers for air­ing on KGGV every oth­er Sun­day evening.

Jen­nifer Her­vey has placed three of her dis­abled high school grad­u­ates in jobs with Dicks Sport­ing Goods, Red­wood Tox­i­col­o­gy, and Dun­garvin, an agency which helps men­tal­ly dis­abled adults.

Vic­ki Hal­stead, Man­ag­er of the Russ­ian Riv­er Senior Cen­ter, has returned from a con­fer­ence in Austin, Texas. She attend­ed it with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Red­wood Empire Food Bank. The sub­ject was Senior Hunger, “a BIG prob­lem”.

And so it goes:  some exam­ples of West Coun­ty Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices try­ing to help at-risk indi­vid­u­als stay on the boat or get back on it, one per­son at a time.