Monday, February 20, 2006

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Project Homeless Connect

I spent Thursday volunteering with Project Homeless Connect. It's a citywide initiative to connect homeless clients with the resources that they need. The event takes place every other month at the Civic Center.

Basically, clients enter the building at 10am. They go through triage where someone does an immediate needs evaluation on a worksheet and then circles the most immediate need. An escort then takes the client to the area circled first. They can go to clothing, food, shelter, medical care (including podiatry, mental health and substance abuse), dental, vision and benefits. Fedex was there offering supplies to make valentines which the clients could have sent anywhere in the U.S. for free. Nextel was offering a similar free service where clients could call anywhere in the U.S. for free and Nextel would help them locate phone numbers. There were also free paperbook books being given away, free massages and foot spa treatments and free toiletry kits. It's a pretty big event. I worked as an escort to get people from one area to another and answer questions.

Some of the things you see just break your heart. I saw several guys there about my age or younger. They look a lot like the snowboarders I used to see in Colorado except their North Face jackets and sleeping bags and dreadlocks are very worn and dirty. You look at them and wonder how they ended up on the streets. And most of the people were so nice and grateful for the help. They had such need. And it made me think about how we can give these people back their dignity. Is it meaningful to start with being polite and looking them in the eye and referring to them as "sir" and "ma'am?" How about the free massages where they could receive caring and gentle touch? It goes beyond just meeting their basic needs. They get so used to people looking past them and ignoring them.

This was the ninth event they have had and I hope to participate in the next one as well. With this initiative and others, the homeless population has gone from about 1200 to 600 in the last couple of years. Wouldn't it be great to get it down to zero?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cupid's Revenge

I hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day. Mine was a mixture of good and bad. Gary gave me some lovely yellow roses. My favorite. He then took me to a new restaurant in town called Graffiti which was just lovely. Earlier in the day, I had to take Toulouse to the vet because he has been limping. It turns out he sprained his elbow. I'm supposed to keep him from jumping around. Which, if you know cats, is laughable.

After our lovely dinner, Gary had an allergic reaction to something he ate. And it wasn't pretty. I felt so bad for him. I went back to the restaurant today to find out what was in the dish. The chef could not have been nicer. But we still couldn't figure out what it was. Poor Gary. He has all these food allergies and asthma. He's so delicate! :)

Tomorrow, I go to San Francisco on my own for a real adventure. I'm volunteering with the League at Project Homeless from 8:30-12:30. Here's hoping I can find my way there and back. I get anxious every time I venture into the city. Which is a little strange since I grew up in a big city. But San Francisco is its own thing. Wish me luck!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Small Town Life

I have lived in two of the biggest cities in the nation. Now, I live in a town of 54,000. And it's a switch. But I kind of like it so far. I thought it would feel stifling but it doesn't. I live one mile from downtown. I could easily walk or bike. The town is cute full of antique stores and little restaurants. And the first movie theater pulled into town last year. Whoopee!

It has been a change having to drive to the next town for a Target or a Bed, Bath and Beyond but it just require more organization. My days are filled with such adventures as "Finding the Post Office" and "Finding a Walgreen's." Next week, I may even attempt "Getting a Driver's License." Whew! So many things to think about. And now it's almost tax season on top of everything else.

I'm trying to pace myself and not feel overwhelmed. I took yesterday off. Drove to Santa Rosa to see the Charles Schulz museum which was very cute. I may even drive the Mrs. Grossman's sticker factory soon to see if they have any new stickers. I'm going to try and do one fun thing each day and not focus too much on organizing and unpacking. It will get done.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ikea You-Kea We all-Kea Over

Whew! It has been non-stop since I arrived in California. I haven't really had an opportunitiy to truly miss Denver yet. The first day was really hard because Gary had to work, it was raining, and I was faced with a room full of Rubbermaid boxes. But the last few days the sun has been shining and it has been around sixty degrees. It has done wonders for my mood.

The biggest challenge so far has been how to go from 1800 square feet to a small apartment. We are currently trying to conjure up space. To help bring the apartment from bachelor pad to starter home on a budget, Gary suggested that we try Ikea. I have never been to an Ikea before. I was a little overwhelmed. In fact, about ten minutes after hitting the showroom floor, I whispered to Gary that I thought I was going to faint and we sat down on a couch for awhile. I had this overwhelming sense of vertigo and felt sick to my stomach. It was just too much sensory overload. After a few minutes, I started to recover and was able to complete the trip. We left with a bathroom shelving unit, dresser drawers, entertainment center and computer desk. It really helped to put all those things together.

My next challenge is my closet. That's going to be a tough one because I do love my clothes, shoes and handbags. But we're working on it.

So far, I'm adapting quite well. I like sharing my life with someone. It hasn't felt as intrusive as I thought it might be. And it seems my cat is finally adjusting as well although he seems to be eating more. I guess the whole process just takes time.

We have already been invited out several times which is a nice change for me. We dine with my friends Jen and Andy on Friday and I'm looking forward to that. If I could only import my Denver friends and my family everything would be perfect.