PTSD is a curse. It shows up at the least opportune times—scary and out of control. A flashback to a hard, desperate, and uncertain time.
Many of our homeless have it, but his was particularly bad and he hated it. Those that knew him well could see it growing during times of stress, almost always impossible to reverse once it started.
How he hated it. He would try so hard to stay out of stressful situations that would trigger it—but that is difficult when you’re homeless and often preyed upon.
He would 5150 in the emergency room as a potential risk to himself when he recognized that he needed help to come out of it. Easily more than 20 times a year he landed there. He would spend a couple of weeks in a mental facility and then be back out on the streets again. The cycle repeated itself over and over again.
As tears welled up in her eyes, her words told a different story. "I am not going to let you or God see me cry."
Too late, the tears were already coming. "I can't believe I have my own room. I don't have to be scared anymore. I am safe." She had just moved into the Grace House.
I hugged her and quickly got in my car before she could see my tears. I quickly rolled down the window and choked out, "You are why we do this!" Her hands beat at her chest over her heart.
That night she texted pictures (below) of how she had arranged her room, the view from her window, and images of hugs and kisses. I won't lie, it felt good. Good to help this sweet, funny woman finally get off the streets after she had lost her home six months prior.
Elk Grove Citizen
By Lance Armstrong Citizen Staff Writer
The Elk Grove Winter Sanctuary (EG WINS), a program dedicated to providing temporary, emergency shelter for Elk Grove's homeless during the coldest time of each year, has returned for its fourth year. This year, the program runs through March 4.
A joint effort with local churches, EG WINS is a 12-week program of the Elk Grove Homeless Assistance Resource Team (Elk Grove HART).
Fred Bremerman, a board member of Elk Grove HART and a former management analyst for the Cosumnes Community Service District, described the idea behind the founding of the shelter, which serves homeless individuals who are at least 18 years old.
"Four years ago, we realized there were homeless people in Elk Grove that did not have a place to be safe (overnight) and get a warm meal," he said. "We could serve them downtown, but most people are afraid of that and they also don't have transportation. So, we figured we had better do something to serve those (homeless) in our community."
Cathy O'Neal (center, right)
A message from HART's President:
Cathy knew how I felt about her, I loved her. I would often kid her saying that I wanted to be like her when I grew up. What’s that look like? A godly woman who saw the pain of others the way Christ sees them.To care for them when they needed support, to walk with them when they were lonely, to carry them when they could no longer walk. She even set a beautiful example of how to be a good wife, shutting down the clothes closet at noon so she could go home and fix lunch for Mike each day.
When Mike died, we had lunch and I asked her how she had survived first the tragic loss of her daughter and then, her beloved husband. She said grief could defeat her, or she could use it to motivate her. She worked tirelessly, not only for organizations like the Clothes Closet and Food Bank, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and HART, but she those hurting on a personal level. She often paid the homeless to do odd jobs for her, always feeding them lunch afterwards. She took in the cat of a homeless girl so she could go to rehab. She would spend the night - all night - with the homeless during winter sanctuary. She worked with the police to send a young homeless woman back to her mom.
Elk Grove is a better city because of Cathy. To say she will be missed simplifies the tremendous loss of the most selfless, openhearted and giving person I have ever known. While her time here on earth has come to an end, she leaves a beautiful legacy.
Members of the Rotary Club of Elk Grove installed a swing set, play house, playground mulch and stepping stones into the backyard of a transitional house for homeless families in Elk Grove on Saturday. The backyard will be enjoyed by 4 families that currently occupy the house. Funding for the materials came from the Rotary Club of Elk Grove and the Rotary district 5180 Foundation.
By Tracy Rivera
Not many people can say they’ve been touched by an angel; Amy* believes her family has been touched by several. The young family of five are moving from Meadows House, a live-in program for homeless families, to an apartment after spending the last year homeless. It won’t take long, all their possessions fit neatly in 10 boxes.
How does a family become homeless? “Gradually,” Amy assured me. We settled into the communal office, a slight hum in the air from the computer running in the corner. They’ve shared this house with three other families over the last six months. “It’s been one interesting adventure.” She tucked a leg under her flowing skirt and sank into the couch. Pink cheeks and damp hair speak of a recent shower.
The family does not take running, heated water for granted. “It used to take three gallons of water to shower behind the van in the parking lot.” Amy had to boil water on a camp stove to wash the children.
Seldom does one meet a man the caliber of Ed Kelly. For this reason, we are sad to see him step down as the President of HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Team) as he moves out of the area. He has been an asset to our organization in so many ways. He handled all of the technology and filings, from creating our website to filing for our nonprofit status with the Secretary of State.
But what makes Ed truly stand out among people is his humble attitude of service. He has walked with many of our homeless here in Elk Grove, caring for them through their backsliding, patiently waiting for them to turn back around, ready to try again. His patience gave many, 2nd, 3rd and 10th chances, just as many as it took for them to succeed. This made many of them dedicated, lifelong friends, anxious to pay it forward as Ed always encouraged them to do.
Elk Grove HART is featured in the current issue of Ardent for Life Business magazine.
Ardent for Life is a magazine created to ignite ideas and enrich the lives of the contemporary woman. - www.ardentforlife.net
This beautiful 7 bedroom house will be home for up to 3 families plus a house monitor. The unique configuration of this house is perfectly setup for each family to have 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. Our desire is to help these families get out of homelessness and back on their feet, but we need your help. It will cost $30,000 a year to operate this house, so your continued support would be greatly appreciated.
One of our goals is to help these families become self-sufficient and establish themselves back into being productive in society. The greatest need is for them to find gainful employment and begin building stable lives. If you have employment opportunities or job training that may help please contact us.
We are a 501c(3) non-profit organization;
100% of donations go directly toward providing services.
Tax ID# 46-4162394