One Stop does it all

There are no prima donnas there … just worker bees.

Ventura County’s hidden gem is the One Stop program for homeless people. It is a lifesaver for those most in need … especially for the newly homeless who are often overwhelmed by the many agencies they must apply to for help.

One Stop, under the leadership of Health Care for the Homeless, provides comprehensive care under one roof – in five different cities each week. Tuesday’s Ventura day at the County Public Health HIV Department is a prime example of compassion and efficiency. A dozen service providers gather for three hours to collaborate with each other so as to guide the many people seeking help through the system.

There are no prima donnas there … just worker bees, collectively figuring out how to best help each person.

Some need photo I.D.s in order to register for services, some need medical care through Medicare or MediCal, others need mental help care. Some have pets and need veterinary care, food or licenses for them, some are disabled, some are addicted; all need housing. The workers listen to their needs and figure out how to help. They compare notes with the other services to form as thorough a package of care as possible.

This is not your typical homeless agency: people are welcomed as soon as they come through the door. There is hot coffee to greet them, plus a bagged lunch and bottled water. As they form a line to sign in, they are offered candy and chit chat … this is the best waiting line in town.

People have mail delivered here and so there is a group of people at the mail counter. Friends have a chance to visit in the waiting room or out on the front lawn. Tables with Obamaphones appear so that those who have nothing at least have phones, which are often their lifesavers.

It is a congenial place where very serious business is conducted by representatives from the Health Care for the Homeless Department, Buddy Nation, Independent Living Resource Center, the Health Care Agency, Behavioral Health, Project Understanding, The Salvation Army, Turning Point/River Haven, the Human Services Agency and Whole Person Care. All of this is guided by James Boyd, who knows everyone in the service agencies and everyone on the lines. He keeps things running smoothly and resolves any problems that arise and comes up with answers for complex situations.

When the last person has been helped, the workers exchange ideas and talk among themselves, getting their notes and files ready for the next day of One Stop, which will be in Oxnard.

Volunteers are always welcome to help sort mail, make the coffee, greet people, and generally assist. Call James Boyd at 805-652-6694 and pitch in to help your fellow Venturans get through a rough spot.

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