By September 3, 2016 Read More →

CommunityView – Neighborhood Engagement

By MaryAnn Spikes

Would you leave a woman stranded on the street with her groceries due to a bulky item policy? Ever kick anyone who loiters in front of your store? Have you displaced families from the safety of their tent community?

Maybe there are better ways to engage people experiencing homelessness. Note the missing question mark.

Another way of saying ‘necessity is the mother of invention,’ is that ‘discomfort is the motivator of change.’ It was discomfort that motivated my friend, Scott, to provide a hotel room for his dying friend, David, during the last days of David’s life. Scott didn’t want his best friend dying on the streets. Further discomfort led Scott to get off the streets in June and graduate (I’m very proud to say) Stanislaus Recovery Center in August.

A related discomfort motivated Stanislaus County to initiate our Focus on Prevention of Homelessness meetings this past year.

During this year, Dean Dodd’s “dream team” built and successfully launched Cleansing Hope Shower Shuttle. I was honored to attend the August 3 ribbon cutting ceremony where the team received recognition from Congressman Jeff Denham, Assemblymember Kristin Olsen, Senator Anthony Canella, Supervisor Dick Monteith, and Mayor Ted Brandvold.

During their second week in operation, I was privileged to witness a few gentlemen utilize Cleansing Hope before heading out to new jobs. The dream team is making a difference, one individual at a time.

We know change does not happen overnight – it happens at the speed of trust. That’s why the County’s Focus on Prevention prioritizes relationships and engagement.

The next Homelessness Action Council (HAC) gathering is scheduled for September 15 from 2:30 to 4:30pm at the Ceres Community Center on 2701 Fourth Street. The update includes information on the Community System of Care planning workgroups (see flowchart in the online version of this article).

The coordinator of those workgroups is Jeanette Fabella (<>), the new Housing and Supportive Services Manager for Stanislaus County.

One of the workgroups is the multi-sector Volunteer Engagement Team, which will have an orientation session on September 7:

Other workgroups include aligning the faith sector, educating the public on resources for those experiencing homelessness (through 211, etc.), and engaging people experiencing homelessness in neighborhoods.

There is a Neighborhood Engagement Training coming up on September 13:

One of the champions leading the neighborhood engagement training is Christina Kenney, program director of Turning Point Empowerment Center. Christina is a seasoned and passionate advocate you will find at nearly every meeting focused on neighbors among us whose various conditions often lead to or are caused by homelessness.

Christina’s team will provide data that dispels urban myths surrounding homelessness and its causes, and will equip us with ways we can proactively express our compassion without unintentionally prolonging homelessness.

If you aren’t too comfortable with the state of homelessness in our community, please consider joining one of the above workgroups, or perhaps find out how you can get behind the Cleansing Hope Shower Shuttle. You WILL be making a difference.



About the Author:

Maryann Spikes holds an Associate of Arts degree in Humanities through Modesto Junior College, manages the Positive Modesto News page on Facebook, and enjoys coordinating Orchard Park Neighborhood Alliance under the umbrella of Modesto Neighborhoods Inc. Her favorite local coffee shop is the Queen Bean, and she calls Redeemer home. Maryann and her husband, Lee, are very proud of their young men, Ethan and David. Email Maryann at with CommunityView story ideas.