A year in review, and a look forward
More than Triple the Burritos
That's right! In 2017, we more than tripled the number of burritos delivered to our homeless neighbors last year! Which means we tripled the amount of times that members of our community shared an evening getting to know some of our homeless neighbors!
But what are we doing?
Sometimes, I struggle to figure out the exact answer to that question. This all started as a knee-jerk reaction to what I saw was clearly a problem and the need to get our communities more involved in the lives of our homeless neighbors. It quickly snowballed from there as we outgrew my apartment and moved to the East End Kitchens in 4th Street Market. I joined newly forming homelessness task forces, graduated law school, worked with Legal Aid Society inside The Courtyard, Orange County's first and only emergency shelter, and got to know some of the 400 people who considered the recently converted bus terminal their home.
Over the past year, we rolled more burritos than ever before (reaching nearly 8,000 total!), had more volunteers than we knew what to do with some nights, held more events, and befriended even more amazing people; hearing countless stories of struggle and pain while really only being able to offer food, basic necessities, and a compassionate ear for some brief minutes a few times a month.
Right after our 2-year anniversary, helping the homeless became illegal in the City of Santa Ana where we volunteer, forcing us to spend the entire month of December getting approval for our Community Street Outreach events and creating a process so others could do the same. Just as Santa Ana's Civic Center encampment is being targeted, days ago, the County announced their plans to follow through with the removal of a large portion of the Riverbed encampment on January 22nd.
So all of this begs the question, what are we doing?
We started by changing how our communities respond to homelessness and addressed some basic needs for our homeless neighbors, but it's time for something more. In 2018, we need you and your support more than ever. This year, we will need your voice to join ours and the others who are demanding accountability from our leaders to do something more than what has clearly not been working.
After taking the California Bar Exam at the end of February, I will begin a fellowship with MHALA, gaining invaluable education and skills to work with homeless adults living with mental illness on their transition and recovery. I hope to use the tools and experience that I gain to work on the development of programs replicating a Full Service Partnership, taking on the commitment to "do whatever it takes" to help individuals on their path to recovery.
Our long-term goal has always been to develop and operate environmental sustainable integrated housing facilities delivering on-site wrap around support. But, while we figure out how to get there, we are working hard to advance ourselves and our capacity to do more productive outreach, be better advocates, and provide more impactful tools to help transform our communities and work towards ending homelessness, with housing and proper support.
Whether it is your time, your voice, or a gift, your support propels us forward and we are so thankful for all of the support that OCBP has received.
Cheers to another year and more work ahead,
President and CEO