California’s Homeless Dilemma

One block from when our grandson plays basketball tournaments

Early this week  Jacob, my grandson, and I had to go to Smart and Final to pick up raffle tickets. Although this grocery store is less than two miles from my home, I did not feel safe. The homeless, unhoused, displaced (or by any other name that they go by) have become a big concern in our city.


As I was making my turn onto Katella, I noticed from my peripheral vision a tall, thin, white man with matted hair using Katella Avenue to empty his bladder. In view of all the passing vehicles, this disoriented man was relieving himself. “Jacob, don’t look at that man!” I yelled. It was a disgusting sight.

Shopping Carts and Litter

Many retailers are missing shopping carts because the displaced help themselves to them. They place their belongings in them and conveniently go around town collecting other things. To the retailer this has become a financial burden that they pass on to their customers. To retrieve these carts would involve the police because who in their right mind would ever approach the homeless to take something that does not belong to them anyway?

There are not enough trash cans around to fill the garbage these poor people produce. By contrast, the displaced cause fires, property is destroyed and their unhealthy, bad behavior must be addressed.

The State of California

We have all seen the mess our state has made be creating many useless programs costing billions of dollars to solve this dilemma. Nothing seems to work and we have been affected by this complicated crisis. Although politicians use the problems of the homeless as a platform to gain the trust of their constituents, when they are voted into office, the homeless crisis  is always put on the back burner.

My Simple Idea

Stop allocating money for climate change and for  those who are illegally crossing our borders. Take the billions that our states gave to Planned Parenthood to support abortions and open mental hospitals. We need to clean our streets of human beings who are suffering and have no place to go. One in four of the homeless suffer from metal illness, and in California we have an estimate of over 171,000 homeless people on the streets.

Churches need to get involved by offering free counseling and by visiting and sharing the love of God. I would much rather visit a them in a hospital than confront them on the street.

How our tax dollars are spent in California:   This Information is  from California Environmental Voters.

With prompting from EnviroVoters, locally-funded partners, and the broader environmental community, we secured:

  • $45 million for offshore wind through the California Energy Commission
  • $150 million for community resilience centers
  • $225 million for clean energy transmission projects in the Climate Catalyst Fund
  • $61.7 million for ocean protection and carbon sequestration
  • An increase in $75 million for extreme heat planning and support
  • $1 billion to ensure that we’re spending to build green infrastructure that will allow us to move away from dirty gas and diesel plants in times of energy scarcity, through SB 849 for the Clean Energy Reliability Investment Plan.

Of course this does not include the billions of dollars to expand access to abortions and the over 31 billion dollars to provide for illegal immigrants

The team: Robert, Leah, me Jane,Gary and a sweet homeless man
Veronica, me, Robert, Mary and a group of lovely homeless people

The Homeless Ministry

For 20 years I was in charge of serving the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles.  I loved serving these people and made many friends. It was a different time; this was before COVID. We as a team felt comfortable and welcomed on the streets.  In the beginning we had a large team helping us with this ministry. As the years passed it dwindled to sometimes just three or four of us. In spite of this, I was never afraid because I felt that God was protecting us. I believe that the main reason our ministry was successful was because we respected the homeless. We not only gave them food to eat but we fed them manna from heaven. We watched our backs, and many times different homeless people would join us in handing out the lunches. They also protected us.

I trained the new team members on how to gently handle the homeless. It takes a special gift of empathy to understand that this is the lowest place a human being can be. God closed our eyes to the filth and the smells of the streets so that we could minister. Sixteen years ago our team experienced the worse of all incidents on Skid Row.

Bottom photo: Precious homeless man, me, John, Ruth, Lauren, Carmelita and Robert

The Stabbing

The man’s name was Anthony, a well-groomed parolee, wearing a blue and white plaid shirt buttoned to his neck; I offered him a meal and he politely gestured yes. After a quick introduction, I asked if he wanted prayer. “Can I touch you?” I asked, and he agreed.

Skid Row is the Devil’s territory, so you pray with a watchful eye. As I placed my hands on his shoulders, I noticed a young man in a black hoody come so close to me that he touched my right arm. I thought to myself that this man has no reverence for the things of God, but I continued to pray for Anthony. Suddenly from my left side the hooded man pulled out a sizable knife. This knife was different; it had a curved edge with a fancy, carved gold handle like a Sinbad dagger. He started stabbing Anthony; this happened so quickly and was just inches from me. This was like an out-of-body experience for me. As if in slow motion I looked around at the 15 or so people who were witnessing this heinous crime; not one of them did a thing to help this poor man. Instead they turned and looked the other way; it was as if they somehow were in collusion with the stabber. I started to scream, “Leave him alone!” “Leave him alone!” This got the attention of the others on my team and they rushed over to help. I saw the knife moving in rapid secession and Anthony attempting to dodge the weapon. Again I screamed, “Leave him alone!” Finally the perpetrator fled. Anthony’s neck and face were flushed red and his shirt was shredded but not a drop of blood. Our team surrounded him to comfort him, but he was inconsolable. “You’re okay, you’re okay,” I kept reassuring him but he just continued to drop “F” bombs and said repeatedly that he got stabbed. I explained that he did not get injured because he had a shield of protection while he was being prayed for.

These occurrences are the norm on Skid Row. The police are unable to keep up with the crime and the street people do not get involved for fear of retribution. To this day I understand the role of a guardian angel because both Anthony and I were protected.

The Shock

We were all pretty shaken up from this mindless act of violence. I, like Anthony, was in a state of shock.  After leaving Skid Row, I had to swing by my son’s friend Jason’s home to pick up our granddaughter; Jason noticed the distressed look on my face.  I gave him a quick summary of what happened and instructed him not to tell my husband Mike for fear that he would not allow me to continue feeding the homeless on Skid Row.

At home I put all anxiety aside and the evening went as usual. Well…until we started watching the movie Hidalgo. There are many fighting scenes in this movie, but one in particular made me jump up from the couch and scream. There it was, the same Sinbad-curved knife almost exactly like the one on Skid Row! Mike looked over at me and asked, “What is the matter with you!” My reply: “Oh nothing.”  After several months I did share the incident with Mike, leaving out a few details.

My Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the 20 years of serving Your people on the streets. Please open doors to help solve this growing problem. May we elect godly politicians who have a heart to help these hurting souls. Amen.

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Skid Row Calling


2 Timothy 1:9 New King James Version (NKJV)

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

Mrs. Donaldson, me, and her sixth grade class

The first two years of college are to establish the route we are taking as far as a career is concerned. It’s the same way with our calling to serve the Lord, because we are all called to serve.

In the almost 20 years that I have served, I always felt a natural comfort in going to Skid Row. Many of my friends have gone with me but never returned  because God did not call them to serve there. I have never felt anything but gratitude for all who have helped with this ministry.

Those who are called feel that tugging in their hearts; this feeling does not go away until you answer your call.

For the past 11 years Mrs. Donaldson has opened the doors to her classroom by allowing our ministry to make the sandwiches. We usually have as many as 20 volunteers. The wonderful thing about this is that we get the job completed in less than two hours, and the sixth-grade students also do the clean up. This has facilitated and changed everything for the better because when we made sandwiches in my home, after everyone left I still had to put my kitchen back together, and I only had half of the help.

I’m so grateful to Mrs. Donaldson for saying yes, and for teaching her students the value of servanthood. These students get a taste of what God may have in store for them, and they will never forget the experience.

With me this weekend were Jane, Mary, Robert and Veronica (a newbie). Mary has been coming for over a year; she is definitely called to Skid Row. How do I know? For one, she keeps coming back, and she is never squeamish about the horrid conditions and smells of Skid Row. If you can get past the scent, you’ve passed the test and can tolerate just about anything Skid Row throws at you. Mary has earned magna cum laude with her services. Jane has for years been a part of this ministry: she keeps me going in the right direction when we drive to LA, but mostly she is the quiet prayer warrior. She can change circumstances for those she is praying for. Jane also has a special gift in looking into the souls of the lost and knowing how to reach and touch them spiritually. Robert  has always been and will continue to be our rock. Robert has a calling to minister to the drug addicted, because he was once in that same rut.

We always try to park in the same spot, and on Saturday we were able to secure our usual parking. I never feel fearful because when you are doing the work for God we are protected. I always feel that there are angels assigned to protect our vehicles so we do not worry about this. We do, however, take precaution and make sure that our vehicles are locked.

They loved the blankets

Robert was late in meeting us, so I recruited Malcom, a citizen of Skid Row, to watch over us. Malcom was obliged to help. This precious man stayed with us for a while. He followed us on his bicycle and watched as we handed out the meals. By the time we ran out of sandwiches, we had to go back to refill our wagon. We remembered that Michael and Trisha had donated about 20 green blankets. These blankets were handed out in a flash, but I made sure Malcom received one.

As we made our way to the front of the Midnight Mission, I could not help but notice a sleeping couple. They were dangerously close to the street, sleeping soundly. I could see peace over them. The woman’s hair was done up in several neatly woven braids tied with some type of yellow ribbon. The man’s head was snugly against the woman’s neck, almost as if they were sleeping in the privacy of their bedroom; nothing seemed to disturb them. Even the screaming woman who woke up from a nightmare, yelling as she reached for her pint of hard liquor, did not wake the slumbering couple.  A rude man was antagonizing the screaming woman and making her suffer great anger. This type of behavior catches our attention but only for a fleeing second. We do not get involved because the homeless read body language better than anyone. If they feel you are judging them, they come at you. We are trained to give them their space and respect them; if you break these two sacred rules you will be in big trouble.

Me, Jane, Estefon (holding blanket)
Veronica, me, Estefon, Mary and Robert (behind Mary) did not get the names of the others

On the same block we met Estefon, a talkative young man. In about three minutes I learned so much about him. He was adopted by a German couple who made their home in the San Fernando Valley. He then moved with them to Germany, then back to California. He is homeless because he cannot keep a job. He explained why he could not keep a job: he did the job so well and got ahead of himself so he would get fired. He went on and on about how no one would hire him. My head was spinning with all that he shared. I prayed for him to get solid direction from the Lord.

Me and Craig

We met Craig, a man with a million-dollar smile and serene spirit. I prayed for him to find his way, he has not been on Skid Row long, and the sooner he gets, off the better for him. After we prayed for Craig we passed a woman sitting against the curb. She was on the phone, yelling so many obscenities; if you think of the two worst bad words and add pedtophile them, this describes the person that owes her $4,000. We steer clear of that type of anger.

City scooter
City scooter stripped

The city is providing scooters, but it’s not such a good idea in this neighborhood; parts are taken off, used for other things or sold.

Overall our mission is complete with seed planted and prayer for a good harvest in the souls of the destitute.

Thank you, Michael and Trisha, for the beautiful blankets. Thank you, Sarah and Jason, for donating the cookies. Thank you, Jane, for your financial support and for being there in the flesh handing out all the goods. Thank you, Mary, for being part of this ministry and helping us distribute the meals. Thank you, Robert, for your protection and for your faithfulness in supporting this ministry, And thank you, Veronica, for helping hand out the meals. Great is your reward!

Matthew 22:14 New King James Version (NKJV)

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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And Then There Were Three

As I was picking up supplies for Skid Row, a thought came to me that in the past 20 years, so many people have been touched by this small outreach; truly only God knows how many have been blessed.

Me, Jane, and Robert

When I arrived at Nohl Canyon Elementary School, Mrs. Donaldson was waiting for me at the back gate of the playing field to open the chain link fence. If you can imagine 20 sixth-graders rushing to unload the supplies! They were eager to help; their excitement was delightful. When I come to this school I try to make small talk with some of the students, but due to the complexity of this undertaking, it’s almost impossible. I did meet Maya, a new student. Maya was born and raised in China but she speaks fluent English, I asked her where she learned English, and she said that it was from watching videos on “You Tube” in China. I was not surprised because last year, while I was in Israel, I met a group of Israeli students on Mt. Tabor. They were speaking fluent Spanish, and when I asked them where they learned to speak in Spanish they said that they watched telenovelas. Note to self: watch more Univision to improve my Spanish.

All of these children, along with several parents, are dedicated to this service. There is always a spirit of peace and excitement; knowing that they participated in helping the needs of others is their greatest reward.

The sixth- graders unloading the supplies

From their loving hands into the hands of the poor, I get to experience the end results. As I have explained in the past, Skid Row is a community of people who have, for whatever reason, ended up one level above Hell. They live lives of drugs, violence, and neglect. They have become outcasts for the lack of resources and their inability to move forward. So the next best thing to numb the pain is drugs, lots of drugs. They feel abandoned, and for this reason many of the displaced have adopted dogs. They understand the reciprocity of an animal. A dog is truly man’s best friend on Skid Row. The dog will never verbally abuse you, it will not steal from you, and it will not beat you. These dogs protect them and their property.

Saturday’s outreach was powerful. Even though we were only three, Jane, Robert, and myself, the Lord blessed us. We never felt intimidated or overwhelmed because of our number. We did our part in handing out the meals and praying for those who needed prayer.

James and Jane
Baby Girl, one of the many dogs on Skid Row

We did encounter hazardous obstacles. A woman who got in my face when I reminded her that I had already given her two meals, said, “You didn’t give me two lunches, I know how to count, you stupid a**!” I looked blankly back into her eyes, and the white, crinkly-faced woman was filled with anger. You should never look away when you encounter this kind of situation, because it shows them a sign of weakness. We never engage in an argument either, because that is how they operate on Skid Row: it’s one fight after another. The homeless read body language too, and anything that they feel offended by provokes them to come at you.

As we were walking past one of the tents, we heard someone suffer a physical blow. Then an attractive long-legged, tall black woman come out of the tent in her underwear. A huge fight broke out between her and her boyfriend. The colorful language, fit for an “R” rated movie, is never shocking, but it was the tone in her voice that warned us to stay clear. The young woman was fuming mad because her boyfriend took her suitcase. The lunch made by the sixth- graders was thrown at her partner, and it barely missed me, but landed on poor Robert’s leg. Sometimes it is difficult to escape these ongoing incidents.

Skid Row residents rarely follow rules. People walk in the middle of the street, and if you honk your horn, a mini riot will break out. The trash is discarded on the street, the dogs’ dung is usually on the sidewalk, and there are no cute little plastic bag dispensers to pick-up the dog waste, so you must watch your every step.

As we were handing out lunches at “Refresh Spot” Robert encountered the same fate as I did earlier. A transgender person wanted another meal, and when Robert refused the person, she got in Robert’s face, with one hand on her hip, wagging her finger, and shaking her head side to side. She staring yelling, “Don’t you ever disrespect me like that again!” Of course, this was followed by the most disrespectful language ever. Robert stood his ground, no explanation of defense from him, because they are always “right,” so any words would fall on deaf ears. We have two choices when this happens: walk away, or wait for them to finish the chastisement. You need to have godly discernment because if you do walk away, sometimes they will follow you until they get tired. We are always praying in the Spirit, because this is the only way you can make it safely though Skid Row.

Someone’s son

Jane and I always carpool to Skid Row, and I always travel with my huge handbag, but this time I decided to leave my purse behind, Jane followed suit. We got so caught up in conversation that we forgot to pray. Normally Jane reads from a prayer book, and then we pray the Rosary; no handbag, no prayer book, no Rosary, equals chaos.

Robert, Tristan, Johnny, Jane, and me

Romans 15:1-2

 1 Now, we that are stronger ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of you Please his neighbor unto good, to edification.

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