One of our favorite men who lived in his truck for several years had a dream that he would re-open his auto body shop.
One of our favorite men who lived in his truck for several years had a dream that he would re-open his auto body shop. He had been in business for many years and had a stellar talent for fixing things.
Ron’s income was about $1100 per month. He paid $750 a month on a large metal building filled with his tools and equipment. He parked his big old work truck at the front door and slept in it for many years. He was a regular at the Welcome Center. When his eyesight got so poor and he knew he couldn’t drive anymore, we picked him up every morning on our way to work. Howard got him to the showers on Saturday and Ted Perez made regular arrangements for his care through Medi-Cal. The visiting nurses would come to the office and treat his ailments. He was a big eater and we kept him in good supply.
He attended a Spanish speakers’ church in Oxnard each Sunday. Members would transport him both ways. He didn’t speak the language but he loved the people and felt loved by them.
On many occasions, we presented housing options which he could have afforded without the monthly rent on his storage building. He would have to give up his dream of re-opening his business and having his tools and customers around him if he did that. He would often speak of his early days learning the trade and how intuitive he was at creating tools for specific tasks.
One day, we recognized the change in his memory and how it progressed through the weeks. He had a terrible time with his phone thinking he was being overcharged. We made many trips to the Verizon store to square away his concerns. The sales associates were very patient with him.
One day, he went to Santa Paula hospital for treatment and was transferred to the Greenfield Health Care Center in Fillmore. After several visits, he stopped recognizing me but recognized Howard. One day he didn’t and he was placed in a secure area of the center.
A nice lady from Medi-Cal called me yesterday stating she heard I knew Ron and asked me if I would take responsibility for his truck and his finances. The same day, the hospital called and asked if I would contact his family as soon as possible. There were two family members, one immediate and one a little removed. They had asked that his care be given to the Public Guardian. For some reason that didn’t happen.
Just before the paperwork was completed today, she called and told me that Ron had died.
He lost his truck, his equipment and his dream gradually vanished along with his memories of current events and the people in them. He left this world with no one to salvage anything he loved or had meaning.
In his dark last days, I hope he still dreamed of his grand re-opening doing the work he loved and gave his life meaning.
I’m grateful for the work we do and the people who lay themselves open to serve others each day. From the wonderful dedicated employees of the Ventura County Healthcare Agency, those in the Behavioral health building in Santa Paula and throughout the County, and to the volunteers who simply meet and greet, offer food and affection without question or judgement.
Ron’s life was better because of all of them. That’s my dream for every person who is homeless. Whether they do it my way or not, they deserve to be loved. I know for a fact that love changes everything.
Many Meals was our original link to Ron. He sat at table every with Pastor Jim Dexheimer who loved on him and heard all the stories Ron wanted to tell. Many Meals continues to be our link. If we don’t touch them around the dinner or lunch or breakfast table, it’s hard to touch them at all.
That is why we say, “We are more than Many Meals.’ This is for Ron. Thanks for the memories.
Our meal tomorrow is ham and cheese casserole with peas, artichoke sauce, celery and onions, Brussel sprouts, buttered cooked carrots, fresh blueberries and strawberries fruit salad, and rolls. Next week is beef enchilada casserole. My Realtor® colleagues will be on hand to help serve.
Website: Council member Jenny Crosswhite and her sweet husband, Daniel Sandoval, are working with Susan Kulwiec to update our www.spiritofsantapaula.org website.
Our Goal: End Homelessness in Santa Paula