My name is Ruth Noordwal and I work at Peabody Engineering & Supply in Corona, CA. Mark Peabody, CEO of Peabody, belongs to the Circle City Rotary, who had a service project led by Shirley Zink of the SACK Foundation (Simple Acts of Caring and Kindness) to collect unused purses from women in the community and fill them with things that a homeless woman might need, like gloves, a beanie, make-up, toiletries, $20.00, a warm blanket, etc. The club collected over 50 purses and through the cooperation of Lt. James Patton, also a Rotarian, orchestrated a method to get these purses in the hands of those who needed them. It’s just the kind of project that a Rotarian can get excited about; helping people who for whatever reason are unable to help themselves and give people a helping hand in the spirit of The Good Samaritan.
On Jan 19, 2016 I had the privilege to go on a ride along with Officer Rosenblum from the Corona Police Department to seek out these needy souls and bless them with a free gift to enhance their life in a small way. He and his partner work in a program called HOPE (Homeless Outreach Psychiatric Evaluation) where they go out into the Corona community and strive to work with the homeless by offering services to help them get off drugs, find shelter for the night, provide a train ticket to get them back home, a warm blanket to comfort them in cold weather, a brown bag filled with nourishment to quench the hunger pains, supply a bag of dog food for their pet(s), give a car ride to the DMV (and front line access) so they can get identification if they have none, help them get into a program to rebuild their lives.
In other words they are lending a hand to help homeless men and women get out of what the circumstances of life has brought them down to – living on the streets and give them a fresh start.
Every day, Officer Rosenblum and his partner enthusiastically suit up, show up, load up their vehicle with supplies and venture out with the intention to see how they can bless homeless people that day. Sometimes they are met with trepidation, fearfulness, scowls, anger, foul language, combativeness, and scrutiny. Sometimes they are met with happy smiles, friendly conversation and gratefulness.
The day I went with Officer Rosenblum, we were handing out the purses collected by The Circle City Rotary Club. It must have been a good day because all the women we came across were happy to see us and were thrilled to get a purse, along with encouragement, a blanket and a brown bag of food.
Trying not to be too intrusive into their lives, I had a chance to talk with some of the women to find out what happened in their lives that they ended up on the streets homeless. Their stories are nothing new, starting off living paycheck to paycheck only to lose a job, not being able to find work and losing their home, their stuff and their kids. Then getting hooked on drugs and having to sell their bodies to support their drug habit. Being in relationships where instead of their mate building them up, they tore them down and treated them abusively until they were left with nothing but the streets.
I realized that in the blink of an eye your life can change and take you to the very worst place you ever imagined yourself being in, cold, hungry, vulnerable, exposed and preyed upon and without hope.
I don’t feel that I have done this story justice with the several hours I spent that day. It was enlightening, sad, perplexing but hopeful. It was disheartening to hear the stories of how some of these women ended up on the streets and what they have to do to survive.
But hope is a two way street. Society can never give up hope on the homeless and that they will utilize the services offered to them to help get them off the streets, get clean and sober and once again become self-sufficient, productive citizens of the community. The homeless can never give up hope that our Corona community cares about them and wants to help them succeed in life.
The City of Corona and the Corona Police Department should be proud of themselves because they are not looking the other way, they are looking at the homeless straight in the eye and offering them HOPE and a helping hand. The Proud City of Corona is working hard to prevent homelessness from becoming a way of life. Thanks to our men and women in blue, there is hope. All that our homeless neighbors need to do is reach out and grab hold of that helping hand. As citizens of Corona, we should all be proud that we, through our great city leadership are helping “the least of these” as we are called to do.