‘Homeless Connect Day’ Serves Nearly 100 People

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Malibu local Marissa Axelrod takes vitals for Pedro during the Homeless Connect Day on a Wednesday morning in July 2017. 

It was not the grim — looking, somber event some might have pictured — nearly 100 homeless individuals coming in from canyons, creeks and other spaces all over Malibu and beyond to take advantage of dozens of free services available to them under one roof for just three hours. Happy, smiling faces were seen milling about in a festival — like atmosphere at last week’s Homeless Connect Day, held at the former Malibu County Courthouse.

This was the third Homeless Connect Day event held in Malibu. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office did most of the heavy lifting to coordinate the event, which was co — hosted by Malibu’s nonprofit CART organization, headed by Carol Moss. Well over a dozen different services were offered by county and federal government agencies, various nonprofit organizations and volunteers.

 

One of the new services offered this year was showers with Lava Mae, mobile showers for the homeless, which arrived as a large truck in the parking lot with four totally private bathrooms with showers and running water, serviced by employees and volunteers. (Because of the Civic Center’s lack of a sewer system, pumper trucks and water trucks were on standby).

Provided courtesy of Kuehl’s office, Lava Mae’s stated mission is to “bring critical services to the streets, delivered with radical hospitality, to restore dignity, rekindle optimism and fuel a sense of opportunity.” At least 26 clients signed up for a 25 — minute session in the showers, and were provided with personal hygiene items including shaving razors and shampoo, clean towels and socks. The van is normally out making regularly scheduled stops at a number of locations in Los Angeles with high concentrations of homeless people who have nowhere else to shower.

 

One of the homeless individuals, who took advantage of the showers and identified himself only as William, said he usually gets cleaned up by “jumping in the ocean or using one of the freezing cold beach showers.” He was quite impressed by the mobile facilities. “The facility was amazing — spotlessly clean,” he said. 

When people become homeless, very often their four — legged friends become homeless too. With very little money, it can become almost impossible for those owners to pay for veterinary care.

 

Helping out those pets was another newcomer to this year’s Homeless Connect Day — Topanga Animal Rescue — a 25 — year — old nonprofit that rescues both pets and wildlife. Founder Susan Clark, along with Malibu veterinarian John Lupo of Malibu Vet Clinic and several volunteers, were on hand to provide free physical exams, free microchipping, rabies shots and deworming, as well as free dog food and dog blankets. 

Clark said this was the first time her group has done outreach for animals, and she hopes to approach Kuehl’s office about being a regular part of the county’s homeless outreach program. 

Moss said more than 50 volunteers signed up. “So many volunteered, I had to turn them away. So, there is great need for people to interact safely and generously with the homeless.”

Moss was grateful that the homeless who attended were getting genuine assistance. 

“I’m stunned because so many got real help,” she wrote in an email after the event. “I would ask them, ‘Did you get help?’ and they all said yes. In fact, I was moved to dig up this quote: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ — Margaret Mead.”

And get help they did — Hope Mill gave out free backpacks stuffed with all kinds of supplies; CART had a booth with gently used clothes and shoes, the county registrar’s office allowed them to sign up to vote and to fill out a form to obtain their original birth certificate free of charge; they could apply for Medi — Cal and CalFresh (the state’s food stamp program) and there was a no — fee application for a state photo ID. There was also Chrysalis, which trains them on how to find a job, various mental and physical health services, veteran’s benefits and free haircuts. 

 

The City of L.A. citation clinic came to dismiss tickets issued to the homeless, which can be nearly impossible for them to pay, for charges like jaywalking and carrying open containers. The dismissal also includes waiving additional fees and fines imposed for non — payment, which could lead to an arrest — putting a homeless person in an even worse situation.