Groups Help Homeless Through the Holidays
By Dianne Anderson
In the great economic divide, it seems that those with a lot of money in Orange County would prefer not to see those who have not – it’s called NIMBYISM, Not in My Back Yard, that keeps the homeless invisible.
Through their newest project, Saving Our Sisters, the Orange County Section NCNW Inc. is reaching more homeless women as they work with several partners across the county and Los Angeles.
Joan Durnell Powell, president of the OC Section NCNW, said that in the past year or so, Orange County has seen a serious increase in homelessness. Her chapter volunteers have been busy holding drives, taking food, blankets and hygienic products to the streets.
“The sad part is they are trying to relocate them out of the area. It’s getting worse because they’re constantly on the move, the cities don’t want them around,” she said.
Reportedly, the increase is at least 30 percent countywide.
“Now the static population, a lot of people lost their jobs during the pandemic,” she said “Especially since COVID, a lot of women have been displaced. They lost their jobs or unable to pay their rent,”
Pastor Tony Simon from Covenant City Fellowship in Santa Ana, said that his church has partnered with the local NCNW chapter for over two years, before the pandemic started. They are serving the homeless and families year-round.
“We’ve been able to serve well over 10,000 units in Santa Ana area, Anaheim and surrounding areas. Between the NCNW and our church at Covenant City Fellowship, it’s nothing we toot our horn about, but we are getting the work done in the community,” he said.
He is sees the increased homelessness in the county, and he has also served Los Angeles Skid Row, alongside his daughter Kennedy, who holds a youth drive at the church. He said that they are also serving the other invisible population, the elderly, and right now, they are in the midst of a sock and blanket drive and the community is encouraged to give.
“Because there’s been such an uptick with women and children since the pandemic, we feel an obligation to this,” he said. “ We go out to them and they come to us.”
Coming up, Cathy Steele Woodard is also calling on the community to donate any lightly used purses that will be distributed at homeless shelters for Christmas. That NCNW distribution is through their other long-standing partner, Joanie’s Purses.
In recent weeks, Steele has been out collecting sanitizer and other hygiene products to go with the purses. This year, between the food, and all of the other items, they expect to serve at minimum 500 of in need, but it could get much higher.
“I’m working with other groups that are giving food and distribution for the holidays, I have a committee in L.A., where we occasionally get items, blankets for the homeless project. We like to focus on making sure that the ladies get something,” she said.
Like a lot of the volunteers with NCNW, she has been officially retired for years, but she admits, it gets very busy at times. They are also collecting items for their other NCNW anchor project Wiseplace, which houses all homeless women.
“I’m like wait a minute I don’t do a 9-5, but I work harder sometimes than when I was paid to work,” she laughs.
Melanie Grant, a member of the Orange County Heritage Council, said their local branch works together this time of year with NCNW on numerous projects with churches and nonprofits to get resources out to what adds up to disproportionately women and children in need.
Mostly, their clients are single moms struggling with children, and she is concerned about the homeless domestic violence connection.
“I think that it’s many women. We were just attending a women’s conference several of the churches got together, it is a big issue. A lot of women are in very precarious situations, dangerous. They’re taking the brunt,” she said.
For more information on giving, or getting, for the holiday, see https://www.covenantcityfellowship.com/
Or, contact Orange County Heritage Council phone (714) 579-9966