Voices From Street Corners (Vol 18)

It was a gorgeous day in Laguna Niguel Today.    Spring is truly in the air in South County!!!

As I traveled around town, I continued to be on the lookout for the regular people on the streets. A few weeks back, I ran into the “drifter”. He had been chased away by the Sheriff after the local property manager had lodged a complaint. He was back with his increasingly faded “Need Work” Sign occupying the usual corner right across from the beautiful Laguna Niguel City Hall. I worked up the courage to walk up to see how he was doing.

He shared with me that he had a place to stay. I asked him how he was coming along with food. I asked him whether he had considered any kind of public assistance. As I talked to him about it, I thought about the debate in Washington and Sacramento and the relentless onslaught on the semblance of Social Safety Net that is left. He talked about the fact that there had to be a “permanent” address. I asked him whether this guy he stayed with allowed him to use the address. He said that the guy did not. I asked him about his brother and whether he could use his brother’s address. There was no liability, because he could use the permanent address, spent 20 dollars on a post office box to get all the mail so that at least he could eat. He said he was going to look at it. I then gave him a job lead I had ran across. He noted that he was going to look into it. I wished him well as I left him. A few days later, I saw him back at the same corner trying to come up with a job to eat. I wondered whether he even tried

As I continued on, I had a chance to catch up with “The Mother” near Walmart in town. I had been happy for her since she shared her job lead. But it apparently did not work out for her. I had hoped that she would check out Colette’s Children Home that was supported through a grant from the Chilrden & Families Commision of Orange County. I also saw the “Veteran” as well shortly thereafter.

I began by talking to him about his plans to help the kid in the Philippines. He told me that he was putting away $ 1000/Month. My eyes nearly popped out at the amount as he also told me that he was continuing to live in his VAN that he showed me. I asked him about his family. He talked about his 43 year old daughter who was divorced, living in Oceanside out of her car and on drugs. She had been hitting him for help, but he was not in a position to help. As he talked, I could not help but feel sorry for him. This sorrow, though, was mitigated by a sense of anger as to why such people should even be allowed to be on the street. I realized that the man truly needed help.

I was rushing back to my apartment as I saw one of my other “regulars” at one of the corners. I walked up to see how she was doing. She had updated her sign, but was still struggling. I happened to have a copy of the key job sites that the local one stop center provides that I handed her. She talked about having worked in retail and doing whatever that was needed to survive. As I listened to her, I remembered my visit yet again to the Kaleidoscope earlier in Mission Viejo. I saw the empty spaces that used to be occupied by luminaries like Bally’s and Bristol Farms that were no more. I wondered how would such people ever get back on their feet as the need for such work was becoming less and less.

I asked whether she drove or not. She told me that she did not drive and got around through the bus. I urged her to check out the One Stop in San Juan to see what can be done to help her. As I walked away to tend to my evening committments, I hoped that she would consider it.

As I drove away, I noticed the African American Family occupying another corner of the same shopping center. I continued to think about how such people can be helped. My thoughts again drifted away onward to Washington as the debate continues to rage on the onslaught of spending cuts. I heard both President Obama and Speaker Boehner underscoring their basic talking points while a Government Shutdown was looming.

The cuts coming out of Washington are staggering. I don’t think there is anyone who denies that we are in a fiscal emergency. There is general agreement that the need to reign in spending is paramount. The question, though, is to create a situation for people to truly have the incentive to help themselves. I have regarded the One Stop Center as providing that venue. Yet, the onslaught of cuts in Washington is threatening to cut the legs off such programs that gives hope and potential opportunity to all. The initiative that Paul Ryan, the House Budget Chair, introduced yesterday is quite stark in its goals.

I have continued to think about all those unfortunate “Voices” who seem to be forgotten in this zeal to be responsible after all the years of irresponsibility. What will happen to them now?


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