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Homeless Wander in Our Midst

Remarkable services exist in Los Gatos area.

Warning! Any hard-hearted Hannah readers whose life philosophy stems from a Darwinian survival of the fittest mode will dislike the altruism lauded in this piece.

I climbed up in my apple tree this week. Gently I pulled from a crook in the branches last year’s bird nest. Such a well crafted creation! Mud smoothed inside, and twig woven outside, it provided an intimate hollow among the leaves for mother to nurture her young into flight. And fly they have.

Chain of consciousness led me to the words of Jesus, “The birds of the air have nests and the foxes of the field have dens, but I, the Son of Man, have nowhere to lay my head.” (Matthew 8:20)

The homeless wander, not only in Pakistan or Sudan, but right here in our neighborhood. They, for the most part, remain out of sight and out of sound and so remain for most of us out of mind. While we go about our daily busyness, homeless in our midst walk about aimlessly.

Where do these folk frequent? Bivouac sites, perhaps 12 in number, dot the creek banks near downtown Los Gatos. Perhaps 100 familiar faces move in and out of Los Gatos. Others also come and go. There exist no local shelter houses. Lunches are served at each Tuesday. A homeless person has died here in each of the last four years. 

What is the cause of such misfortune? Could it be mental illness? Statistics give more superficial or ostensible causes, since individuals do not always self-identify the mental illness category.

Perhaps chief among the helpers among us is Robert Dolci, a former priest, who serves Santa Clara County’s 8,000 annual homeless as Homeless Concerns coordinator. He describes the county as, comparatively speaking, “service rich” toward the homeless. His is a complex and compassionate coordination of services toward those with no place to lay their heads.

Even closer to home, officer of thespends an average of six hours per week in homeless concerns. On the day I talked with him he had shepherded a gentleman, apartment hunting.  Through Dolci’s office, individual case management is available to this home seeker. It is hoped that he, as with others, will find stability.

I came to California two years ago. People ask me where I’m from. Often I hesitate. They do not want me to name Scotland and seven U.S. states. But this wanderer-in-the-earth has always been fortunate enough to have a home where I could lay my head. How fortunate, not how strong and clever.

We pause to appreciate the ministries of Bob Dolci, Leo Coddington, Jo Greiner, withSt. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and others. Our faith communities and others reach out in support.

Should you see someone walk by aimlessly, say not, “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Rather say, “There with my prayers and God’s grace, go I.”

John Krochmalny April 14, 2011 at 08:01 PM
I see more street beggars now than I have in 30 + years and all with signs indicating their poverty and perhaps homelessness. I'm finding myself moved to offer some financial assistance knowing that existing charitable institutions are being hit hard with the current economy and not being able to help. In some areas of the mid-West, some charities are closing. There is literally no where else for these people to turn to for help.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) April 14, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Agree. I see them every day and it just breaks my heart. Bob Dolci is a hero and we should follow his example. Latest county data says there are about 7,200 homeless people in the area. Thanks for the comment.
David B. Bowman April 15, 2011 at 10:56 PM
John: Thank you for your response to the piece on homelessness. It is apparent you observe the problem in Toledo and environs. I was impressed with the people who are seeking to address the need in this area. Many of the homeless move about scarcely seen. Perhaps greater awareness of the need will lead to more healthy responses. Shalom, David

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