Vee Proietti: Helping the homeless at Hospitality House
As a member of the Hospitality House board of directors, I have been following the response to the homelessness meeting sponsored by The Union and KVMR. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend due to a family commitment but have followed your reporting on it.
I was impressed with the great turnout for that meeting, which shows how concerned our community is with it. Being on the board, I’ve seen that concern displayed as compassion firsthand and it makes me so proud to live here.
I originally just wanted to volunteer serving meals, but became a board member because I was impressed at how thoroughly Hospitality House tried to deal with all aspects of homelessness.
Hospitality House does not just provide a shelter and meals but works to get at the root of homelessness by interviewing and recording each person’s story.
We also have a point in-time count of the homeless, where we actually go out and connect to our homeless camping population. We’ve long concluded that the great contributor to our local homeless population is the lack of affordable housing.
Yes, you will see strong, young men and women at Hospitality House but mental issues may prohibit them from being able to earn much more than a minimum wage and that will not allow them to afford a rental in our area.
To even find that minimum wage job is difficult. We are working on programs to train these people to find those jobs but again, it may not be able to get them into permanent housing. In order to get into Hospitality House, our guests must be sober.
Some might dispute this policy, but it means we are working with people who are looking for a better life but need help. They may even have become sober so that they can get into Hospitality House. I have seen that occur.
Yes, we provide them with a bed to sleep in, washer/dryers to get their clothes clean, showers and awesome dinners most often provided by our local churches. I don’t consider this enabling. To me, it is holding our hands out and saying we’ll give you assistance and maybe we can even help you make a better life for yourself. That’s our goal.
I have come to believe that while some sort of camp operation could work out for a segment of the homeless, there will remain another portion that has no interest in living within civilization.
It probably isn’t a large portion of the homeless population, but it does exist in this county.
We will never be able to reach 100 percent of the homeless population but we can certainly do better.
Our daily struggle is to find funding to keep our doors open and continue with our program to get people back on their feet and into permanent housing. Our paid employees work at Hospitality House from a passion to assist the homeless and, in my opinion, are not paid adequately for the work they do.
Our caliber of employees is extraordinary. It is very hard to ask people to donate over and over again. If there’s anyone out there who loves to approach people and ask for money, please come forward. We need you!
Our fundraising efforts know no limits but, at the end of the day, we need help from the public, just ordinary citizens like those who are reading this. We’ll do the work but we need the donations in order to do so.
How I wish I could just write a check every month to Hospitality House and have it sustain the whole operation. It would be so much easier than to have to continually ask people to help us.
You cannot imagine the time involved to obtain the necessary funding. We often have to go to the same people who have generously donated before. But we need everyone’s help.
I don’t believe any community has a better program than what we offer and it has taken many years to reach this point. But we always need financial help. Grant money, which we have been extremely successful in obtaining, is now drying up.
As we often are forced to say throughout each and every year, now more than ever we need your financial help. There will always be a need for Hospitality House until we can offer affordable housing for those people less fortunate than ourselves.
Vee Proietti, a member of the Hospitality House board of directors, lives in Penn Valley.
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