April 1, 2015

A home for homeless women in East Los Angeles

Homelessness in Los Angeles is a significant and chronic problem.  It is so much more challenging for homeless women to find safe shelter for themselves, their children, and away from addicts, violence, and sexual predators.  The new Guadalupe Homeless Project Women’s Shelter in Boyle Heights is a facility designed for exclusive use of homeless women.  The following article by Maya Sugarman of KPCC (89.3 FM) provides an excellent write-up of the shelter itself, and insight into the challenges facing homeless women in East Los Angeles.

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For more than six years, Vickie, a 63-year-old homeless artist, did most of her sleeping on Los Angeles’ public buses.

“Nobody’s going to rape me on a bus,” says Vickie, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her privacy. “It’s the safest place for a woman to be. The only problem is you never get to lie down flat.”

Fear of rape, violence and theft had kept Vickie off the streets at night. But she says that fear also kept her away from homeless shelters, where she could have gotten a bed.

“Some of them have bad reputations,” she notes. “The ones that have outstanding reputations are always full.”

What finally coaxed Vickie off of buses was the opening of a women’s-only shelter in Boyle Heights, one of a very few in Los Angeles, and the only one to cater to older women like her. The Guadalupe Homeless Project Women’s Shelter has 15 beds arranged in a converted classroom that used to house an after-school program. It’s run by Proyecto Pastoral, a nonprofit under the auspices of East L.A’s Dolores Mission. Most of the women are in their 50s and 60s. The oldest is 80.

Raquel Roman, the shelter’s director, says the need for a women’s shelter in East L.A. became clear last year, when the body of a 36-year-old homeless woman named Lorenza Arellano was found floating in the lake at Hollenbeck Park. Arellano had often eaten dinner at a men’s shelter that Proyecto Pastoral has run in the community for decades, recalls Roman, but because its beds were not open to women, she slept in the park. Police said she died of a drug overdose, though how she ended up in the lake remains a mystery.

“Her tragic death was a shock to all of us,” Roman says, “and I was really compelled to say, we need to provide services to women in our community that are in the same situation.”

Amy Turk, program director for the Downtown Women’s Center, a day center for homeless women, says that other than the new Boyle Heights shelter, she knows of only two other women-only shelters in Los Angeles, totaling roughly 300 beds.

Yet the need for them is great, she adds, because the fear of violence often keeps women away from traditional shelters, much as it did with Vickie. A majority of homeless women recently surveyed by the center reported being victims of sexual abuse or other violence. A vast majority said they preferred women-specific homeless services.

And yet “we hardly ever see any funding geared solely toward unaccompanied women who are experiencing homelessness,” Turk says. Women trying to escape abusive partners have more options. So do homeless women with underage children, but they tend to be younger, and overall the population of homeless women is getting older.

As they age, Turk notes, they’re getting sicker faster than the housed population, which makes it harder for them to stay on the streets.

Those challenges are evident among the women at the Guadalupe Homeless Project, where each evening they do daily chores before being taken by van to a nearby school cafeteria where they’re served dinner.

Carlette Luka, a 59-year-old from Hawaii, has an easy smile and a jovial demeanor, but suffers from high blood pressure and a bad hip. She uses a walker. Before arriving at the shelter, she says she often slept in a graveyard to avoid trouble.

Another 59-year-old, who sings in her church’s gospel choir and asked not to be named, treks out on foot every morning to look for work but is slowed down by plantar fasciitis and pre-diabetes. Several women are getting treatment for mental health issues.

The goal of most of these women is to eventually find a job and an apartment, a task made difficult by the reluctance of many employers to hire older women, according to Roman. Some of the women at the shelter face the added complication of being in the U.S. illegally.

But some of the women are starting to get back on their feet. At 53, Eva Gonzalez is among the shelter’s younger residents. She once had a business designing and selling dresses for quinceañeras. For reasons she’ll only hint at, she lost the business, and then her home. She stayed in hotels and with friends, then finally heard about the shelter and secured a bed there.

For weeks, she struggled to find work.

“They told me I was too old,” she recalls. Gonzalez finally found work selling dresses in downtown L.A.’s garment district, adding that she’s saving money and plans to get a place of her own.

Unlike some of the women living with her in the shelter, Gonzalez says she still has time to start over.

http://www.scpr.org/news/2015/03/31/50656/after-a-homeless-woman-is-found-dead-a-shelter-for/

March 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”

~Theodore Roosevelt

March 20, 2015

15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone (Even Though You Think You Do)

From http://higherperspectives.com/15-things/

1. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your living situation.

It doesn’t matter what kind of living situation you’re in, whether you have housemates, live alone, live unmarried with a partner, or live with your ex still. You don’t need to explain to anyone why you live the way that you do.

2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your life priorities.

Want to open a business? Become a pastor at your church? Sell all your belongings and backpack through India? Go for it! And remember, you don’t have to explain your priorities to anyone. They are yours, and you don’t have to try to impress people with them.

3. You don’t owe anyone an apology if you are not sorry.

If you’ve done something that someone else doesn’t like but that you don’t regret, you don’t owe them an apology. An apology is to try to rectify a mistake and the impact it’s had on others.

4. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for requiring alone time.

If you need alone time, you’re not being rude, introverted, or unfriendly. You just need time alone. You don’t have to explain your need for that. Just enjoy that precious time alone.

5. You don’t owe anyone your agreement on their personal beliefs.

When people share their personal beliefs with you, it’s often a sign of trust that should be cherished. It’s a window into their souls and the way they think. But just because someone has shared their personal beliefs with you doesn’t mean you have to nod in agreement. Also, see #3.

6. You don’t owe anyone a yes to everything they say.

I know it can be hard to say no to the hard ask, but just know that you don’t have to say yes to everything everyone asks of you. Know your limits and what you’re willing to do for others.

7. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your physical appearance.

If you’ve lost weight, gained weight, changed your hair, grown a beard, or done anything with your physical appearance, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for it. You’re just doing you. They can deal with pink hair.

8. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your food preferences.

We all like different types of food. If someone tries to judge you over it, don’t engage. You don’t have to explain what kind of food you like to eat. You just eat what you want to.

9. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your sex life.

Whether your sex life doesn’t exist or does with another consenting adult, it’s no one’s business but your own. People will try to judge you for who you sleep with or what your sexuality is, but what they think generally doesn’t matter.

10. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your career or personal life choices.

When it comes to the direction you’re going in life, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your career or the direction you’ve opted to go. Just go for it! The people who truly care for you will back you up.

11. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your religious or political views.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Catholic, Protestant or Muslim, it’s your choice and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for it. If someone wants to have a fun, candid discussion with you and you also want that, have at it! A good debate or exchange of ideas is a lot of fun.

12. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for being single.

It doesn’t matter if you’re single by design or by accident – you’re single! Chances are, you’re pretty happy with it too. You might get pressured to go find a partner and get married, but you march to the beat of your own drum.

13. You don’t owe anyone a date just because they asked.

This is such an important thing to remember. You don’t have to say yes just because someone asked you to go out with them!

14. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your decision about marriage.

Want to get married at 18? Don’t ever want to get married? As long as you’re an adult making decisions of your own accord, your decision about marriage is yours alone.

15. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your relationship choices.

Did you forgive a cheater? Did you get back together with your ex? Did you say no to a marriage proposal? These decisions were made by you for your own set of reasons, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for that.

March 4, 2015

Love: Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations

Yes, I stole I.D.I.C. from Star Trek, but it most certainly seems to apply with regards to the greatest and most unfathomable human emotion: love.

February 4, 2015

More Calif. Kindergarteners Under-Immunized

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The lack of vaccinations for children under five years of age is atrocious in California.  The article ”

More Calif. Kindergarteners Under-Immunized Than Unvaccinated” from CaliforniaHealthline.org has an excellent summary of vaccination rates statewide, and the appalling lack of vaccinations within Los Angeles County.

Quoting from the article:

While about 2.5% of California kindergarteners’ parents have opted out of vaccinations via personal belief exemptions, nearly 7% start school under-immunized.

According to Amy Pine, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department’s immunization program, under-immunized children still are “vulnerable” to contracting and transmitting diseases.

The rate of under-immunized kindergarteners who are admitted to school on a conditional status varies across the state. For example, the rate is:

  • 12.28% in Los Angeles County — nearly double the statewide average;
  • 11.62% in San Francisco; and
  • 9.68% in Alameda County.

Few counties have taken steps to stem the number of “conditional entrants,” but some stakeholders have made recommendations to the state to improve the tracking of such students (“State of Health,” CHCF Center for Health Reporting/KQED, 2/2).

 

This is really a setting for an epidemic of previously eliminated childhood diseases, such as mumps, measles, rubella, and perhaps even polio.  Only time will tell!

http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2015/2/3/more-calif-kindergarteners-underimmunized-than-unvaccinated

January 22, 2015

A Look Inside

Difficult, complex, chaotic, layered, fragile, detailed and imperfect, hard to watch, yet beautiful in its own way.
Just like LIFE.

January 22, 2015

A Metaphor About The Disposal of Our Humanity

January 18, 2015

Today’s Moment of Mandala Zen…

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January 16, 2015

1/3 of Male University Student Respondents Would Rape a Woman if there were no Consequences, According to Study

Sadly, I read about a new study  in the science journal Violence and Gender, titled “Denying Rape but Endorsing Forceful Intercourse: Exploring Differences Among Responders”, where one third of male responders in the study would rape a woman if there were no consequences.

Quoting from The Independent:

“Amongst other questions they were asked how they would act in a situation where they could have sexual intercourse with a woman against her will “if nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences”.

31.7% of all men participating in the study would force a woman to have sexual intercourse in such a “consequence-free situation” – which is rape.

Worryingly, most men who indicated that they would commit rape did not even recognise their actions as such.

When explicitly asked whether they would rape a woman if there were no consequences, only 13.6% of participants said they would do so, a marked fall on those who had described that they would commit rape.”

For some reason, the male respondents, when the action was made clear that what would be happening was legally defined as rape, lowered the percentage saying they would still rape a woman.

There seems to be a disconnect among the male respondents about what IS rape.  And somehow this disconnect seems to maintain that it is NOT rape if it is a consequence-free situation.

It appears there is still lots of work to do with education and ethics for university college males.

Link to the study: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/vio.2014.0022

Link to the article: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/a-third-of-male-university-students-say-they-would-rape-a-woman-if-there-no-were-no-consequences-9978052.html

January 3, 2015

Emotions: Appearance and Reality – an animation

The following animation cutely shows how emotions course through our adult bodies, while not being outwardly displayed.  It’s a shame.  Emotions are healthy and can be displayed in healthy ways.  Enjoy!

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