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"Be the change that you want to see in the world."  
  — Mohandas Gandhi

Programs and Services

Homeless Support Activities in Laguna Beach

Currently, the homeless support activities in Laguna include:

  • The Friendship Shelter.
  • The Laguna Resource Center.
  • Citizen and church volunteers helping the homeless particularly with meals:
    1. Three dinners per week by church volunteers (Heisler Park).
    2. Saturday breakfast from Christ Fellowship Church (Main Beach).
    3. Wednesday and Saturday lunches (at various locations by various volunteer groups).
  • Police Officer Jason Farris - Community Outreach.
  • Mari Hill - OC Mental Health nurse.
  • The Cold Weather Shelters provided by the Churches each winter, staffed by volunteers, and supported by the city.
  • Volunteer mentors and case managers working with the homeless on a one-on-one basis to help them solve the problems that trap them in homelessness.

Outreach Volunteers

Our most important resources are our outreach volunteers. Review of the homeless statistics for the last ten years show that more Laguna Beach homeless individuals (including chronic homeless) have been returned to a home or shelter-based stable life by outreach volunteers working on the streets then by any of the other activities listed above.

To best understand the plan for our homeless outreach program, we should understand the categories of volunteers that are needed to implement the program. There are four important categories. They are:

  • Volunteers to continue to help prepare and serve meals, to volunteer at the Cold Weather Shelters, and to assist in the acquisition and distribution of food and clothing.
  • Mentors.
  • Case Managers.
  • Information Specialists.

Mentoring

Mentoring is the backbone of homeless outreach. It is performed on a one-on-one basis with each client over a long period of time. The cornerstone of mentoring is to develop a close personal relationship with the client that is based on respect, understanding, knowledge, and love. A mentor must have a significant capacity to listen and the capability to encourage the client to talk and to share. The mentor works with the client to develop:

  1. A mutual understanding and agreement on the client's problems and objectives.
  2. A plan for achieving an agreed-upon goal or set of goals.

The mentor works with the client through each step in the plan. This direct support can involve such things as:

  • Attending meetings with the client, including court appearances, AA meetings, medical appointments, etc.
  • Providing transportation.
  • Helping the client to fill out forms.
  • Practice for interviews.
  • Being available on-call if necessary.
  • Develop family contacts for various purposes.
  • Provide access to food, clothing, medical support, and shelter.
  • Assistance with finding jobs and living accommodations.
  • Helping the client acquire vital documents such as birth certificate, ID, driver's license, social security card, etc.
  • Assistance in obtaining access to special care, such as health clinics, hospital care, legal aid, SSI, etc.

Case Management

The purpose of case management is to coordinate and track each client's recovery process and progress toward their desired goals. The Case Manager also works with the Mentor and the client to develop each client's individual recovery plan. Then the Case Manager uses knowledge and understanding of the local resources available to match the client's needs with the appropriate program, service, or organization. Mentor and Case Manager work closely together to coordinate and organize activities aimed at helping the client achieve their goals. The benefit of case management is efficiency by quickly facilitating each client's efforts to follow-through on their desired goals.

Case managers may engage in any of the following activities:

  • Coordinate solution activities carried out on client's behalf.
  • Schedule appointments.
  • Interact with key contacts within local programs and organizations.
  • Use computer to maintain accurate information on various county resources.

Use of Information Specialists

Information specialists are volunteers who become experts in one or more specialty areas. This is an activity that is vital to the successful implementation of both mentoring and case management as described above. These experts work with the mentors and case managers as needed. They add value to the client's recovery process by providing accurate, up-to-date information to help the client and case manager implement their plan of action.

Areas of specialization can include:

  • Procedure for acquiring SSI for our clients.
  • Jobs availability, types, and locations.
  • Housing availability of various types and locations.
  • Detox locations and contacts - both alcohol and drugs.
  • Post-detox facilities, contacts, and details of acceptance.
  • Mental health assistance capabilities in OC, including organizations (and capabilities and limitations), facilities, locations, coverage, key people, interrelationships, etc.
  • Job and skill training opportunities.
  • Emergency shelters, including all aspects of location, capabilities, and limitations.
  • Dental support.
  • Legal support.
  • Specialized Veterans support.
  • Homeless Court operation.