Friday, June 27, 2008

Remembering David

Last week I presided over a memorial service for David. I must confess, coming up with a sermon was more difficult than normal because I didn’t really know David. I knew that he was playful and funny and that each week he came to share lunch he would pretend he couldn’t remember our names. I knew David’s name very well, since he received mail at the church. After he passed, I learned that David knew my name well too. In fact, the medical examiner informed me that on his contact information at the hospital he had listed my name on the line that said “home.”

While only four of us gathered to remember David’s life, we were joyful that David was not one of the hundreds of homeless individuals who die in San Francisco each year without anyone to remember them.

I often say that my most important job at the Welcome Ministry is to learn people’s names. After all, my journey to become a pastor began when God remembered my name and it was marked on my forehead with water.

The Welcome Ministry not only learns people’s names, we help them gain an identity. In the short term we help people get their state issued identification and birth certificates, but in the longer term we help them to improve their quality of life, to advocate for their needs and to gain the quality of life that all humans deserve.

Today, I invite you to support the vital work of the Welcome Ministry. I also hope that with your gift you will share the name of someone who has been important to your life, faith or identity. Whether you are able to give a lot or a little, remember that the little I was able to share with David was big enough to create a sense of home.


Rev. Megan Rohrer

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Skill Share SCHEDULE

Here is the schedule for summer Skill Share workshops. See post below for more information.

If you have ideas for topics, questions, or would like to share a skill, contact Jay.

Stress reduction in real life-

Poverty and homelessness are stressful! Stressing can make it hard to get/stay healthy, control mental health symptoms, and get/maintain housing or employment.

Learn free ways to reduce stressing in tough circumstances.

Wed. June 18, 4:30-5:30

How do I get and use health insurance?

Health insurance can open doors to preventative health care, ability to choose doctors and clinics, medical and adaptive equipment, alternative medicine, and disability services.

Many people are eligible for free/low cost health care through state and federal programs. If you have MediCal or Medicare, learn what is covered so you can get it. If you don't learn how to get insurance and how we can help.

Wed. July 9, 4:30-5:30

Healthy eating at convenience stores-

In our neighborhood for people without much money, it can be difficult to find healthy food. But even in convenience stores, dumpsters, and food shelves, you can make healthy food choices. Learn how to spot healthy options.

Satisfy your food needs and wants in healthier ways from the places you really get food.

Wed. July 16, 4:30-5:30

Options for managing mental health symptoms-

These days, I hear a lot that medication is the main tool most people have for managing mental health symptoms. But there are many other tools and options, many of which are low cost, free, or covered by MediCal. Learn about different kinds of counseling which work well, case management, natural/alternative options, journaling/art/music therapy, harm reduction, and many other useful tools for your mental health toolbox.

Wed. August 13,


Stretching your money and staying housed with money help-

Having trouble making your money stretch all month? Get confused by math and numbers? Lost your housing due to not paying rent? Learn about the options for getting money help.

You can get help to do or learn how to: plan a budget, make sure your rent gets paid, or save money for something you want to buy. If you decide on your own to get this help, you can control who helps you, what kind of help you want, and even how exactly you want your money spent.

Wed. August 20,


Health Skill Share Workshops

Starting June 18, Welcome Ministry will be offering time to learn and share skills about health topics.

Skill Shares will happen 4:30-5:30 pm on Evening Outreach Nights prior to the meal- that's the 2nd and 3rd Wednesday of each month.


Assistant Director Jay Wilson or visiting educators will facilitate, and the hope is that people who have specific skills will want to share their knowledge. If you see a topic that you want to help with, contact Jay.


Come with your questions, skills, and suggestions for topics. We hope that a mix of people will come to each Skill Share, people of all levels of skills. Want to come but see a barrier? Talk to Jay to find a way.


In order to be able to offer a safe, comfortable, and effective place to share skills, in addition to the regular Welcome Ministry rules, we also ask that participants:

-Step up and step back- if you are reluctant to participate, STEP UP to try it.

If you know that you like to talk and other people haven't had a chance, STEP BACK to allow everyone to participate.

-Only one person talks at a time, no shouting- so that we can hear and respect everyone who speaks.

-Speak from your own experience, no erasing- You are an expert in your own experiences, so share them (remember this is a public space). Do not speak for other people, whole groups, or erase someone else's perspective.

-No racism, homophobia, ageism, or other ways of oppressing people.

-Jay cannot help you with an individual problem, get items or mail for you, or make appointments while we meet. Please see him before or after the presentation if you need to meet.

These rules are communication skills in themselves, so Jay will assist in remembering and following them.


See next post for schedule for the summer!

Contact Jay for more information, for questions, or if you'd like to share some skills.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Why do economy downturns have to hit the poor the hardest?

Mayor Newsom released a budget today that will terminate critical health and human services, while pumping up salaries for police by 25% and adding many new high paid patronage positions into his own administration.

Some highlights of the devastating impact of the budget include:

1) Closure Ella Hill Hutch shelter serving up to 100 people every night in the Western Addition.
2) Closure of Caduceus Outreach Services, a mental health treatment and wrap around support program for severely disabled homeless adults with co-existing addictive disorders.
3) Almost total elimination (66% cut) of SRO Families United program for families with dependent children living in hotels.
4) Cut of 22% to residential substance abuse and mental health treatment programs budgets.
a. Removal of support from Conard supportive housing program for severe psychiatric disabilities.
b. Closure of Cortland Acute Diversion Unit for individuals in psychiatric crisis.
c. Loss of 12 out of 24 community based medically supported detox beds.
d. Many more residential cuts yet to be determined.

5) Cut of 30% to all outpatient substance abuse and mental health treatment
6) Almost total elimination of STOP treatment program.
7) 1,600 people lose psychiatric treatment through Private Provider Network.
8) Closure of Tenderloin Health, homeless multi-service center in the Tenderloin serving over 300 people a day, 16,000 unduplicated people a year. Program provides health services, HIV case management, HIV prevention, mental health services, harm reduction work, improving quality of life by getting people out of rain, providing hygiene kits, bathrooms, snacks, crisis intervention, 30, 000 shelter reservations a year.

Brought to you by the People's Budget Collaborative

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Homeless Identification Project

The Welcome Ministry recently initiated a new project to help homeless people who do not have govern-ment identification. All government resources and many private resources for the poor require government-issued identification as a prerequisite for service. Additionally, the government requires that businesses see identification before hiring, giving permanent or temporary tenancy or providing financial services (e.g., cashing checks and establishing bank accounts). At the same time, the government has made it more difficult and costly to obtain these documents.

Common barriers that make it difficult to obtain identification:

• In order to get California state-issued ID, you are required to have your birth certificate. In order to get your birth certificate, you need a copy of your state-issued ID.

• In order to get a copy of your Social Security card you must have a copy of both your birth certificate and your state-issued ID. Additionally, the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 states that you may only request a copy of your Social Security card five times in your lifetime.

• If you have a copy of your birth certificate that was issued before 2004, it will be considered invalid because it is printed on the wrong type of paper (even if it has a seal).

• Ordering a birth certificate costs $15 to $75; it can take up to a month to arrive. The requirements to obtain your birth certificate vary based on the birth state.

• Many states require that a notary witness your signature when you request a birth certificate, but without proper identification a notary cannot witness a signature unless they personally know the individual.

• You must have a mailing address to receive your state-issued ID, birth certificate or Social Security card. Often when you order a birth certificate, the address it is mailed to must match the address on the credit card that is paying for it.

• You must pay by credit card or check with the same address where the identification will be mailed.

Companioning someone while they secure the identification they need is more than just paperwork. It is an opportunity to advocate for people as a religious leader and to provide pastoral counseling in ways that many people never experience. When a homeless person, who previously has had little or no support, and a chaplain share that person’s birth history, spend two or three hours together on the bus and in the DMV or Social Security office, an incredible amount of spiritual care takes place and friendship develops. Having a compassionate chaplain listen to your stories, fears, joys and hopes can be life-changing.

To staff the Homeless Identification Project, the Welcome Ministry has created a second staff position that is responsible for getting acquainted with people needing ID, establishing a mutually trusting relationship and gaining sufficient personal history information to begin the ID application process. The position also coordinates volunteer participation in the ID project and publicity to attract people who need help and people interested in supporting the project.

Jay Wilson started as the new Assistant Director April 1st. Jay has Master of Divinity and Master of Social Work degrees. He is experienced in assisting individuals and families to access services and understand state, county, Social Security, and educational systems.

-Barry Clagett, Welcome Ministry Treasurer