The Beginning of a Life Change

When I managed the E.P. Foster Library in downtown Ventura we had many library users that were part of the homeless community. In 2008 I joined the Ventura Social Services Task Force and subsequently learned about the various local resources offered to this underserved population. One of the most effective organizations was The Turning Point Foundation.

One Monday around noon, an irate patron approached me. He said that he was an ex-Marine. He considered himself able to handle just about anything, but pointed to a person seated nearby and told me that the man reeked, that I’d better do something or he would.

Our Place Safe Haven

I didn’t recognize the “offender” as a library regular and thought he might be new to the area. Before approaching him, I called Our Place (now Our Place Safe Haven) and made sure they were open and that their normal services were available. I also drew up a little map about how to get to Our Place, just a couple blocks away.

He was seated in a low upholstered chair. I got down on my knees, introduced myself and spoke quietly to him. I explained that I had received a complaint that his clothes might need a good cleaning. Did he know that there was a place just a couple blocks away where he could do his laundry free and take a shower? No, he didn’t. I explained about what Our Place was and told him to check it out.

I Didn't Recognize Him

The next Wednesday, two days later, a clean shaven, clean cut man came to the library to speak to me. He said he’d been to Our Place, cleaned up himself and his clothes, and had a referral appointment with a case worker the next day. I didn’t recognize him.

New Beginnings

This was the beginning of a life change for both me and for the man, who I learned was named Francis and was also known as Frank. Working with Corliss Porter of Turning Point, I followed what was happening in his life. He was a veteran. He was eligible for veteran benefits, including health care. He had serious unattended health issues but within the year was able to get the operation he needed. And, most importantly, he was able to get off the streets.

I am retired now and living on social security and a small pension. One of my most important charitable donations is to The Turning Point Foundation. There are hundreds of people like Francis in our community. They need our help.

Mary Stewart

How a Simple Ribbon Cutting Changed Ashley's Life
Our Place Safe Haven Ribbon Cutting

Written by Ashley Pope, Owner of Spice Topia, Ventura CA and Membership Director at Ventura Chamber

I went to Turning Point’s Our Place Safe Haven’s ribbon cutting on Oct 25, 2018 where many inspirational leaders spoke about the newly renovated building. It’s beautiful, and a place many people will be proud to call home while they get back on their feet. Bob Davis, a Turning Point board director and Mortgage Loan Officer of Provident Bank,  spoke of helping those who are “not poster child cute” which really got me thinking.

Once outside, I was walking to my car, giant scissors and roll of ribbon in hand when approached by a man who looked homeless and asked if I would help him. My mind said I had places to be, but my heart said,

“You’re not going to say no after attending Our Place Safe Haven’s ribbon cutting? So I say yes!”

He told me that he just left the hospital, and was put up in a motel, but left to get a beer, walked a couple blocks and got lost. He still had his hospital band on, and bandages. I was naming the local motels and racking my brain as to where to start when Kevin Clerici, a Turning Point supporter, was leaving the ribbon cutting and happened to be crossing our path. He stopped to help.

30 minutes of phone calls, questions, researching… and we found where he was staying. At first, he was denied entry. More phone calls… and finally, success. He would have been on the streets that night if it wasn’t for us saying “yes” and not taking “no” for an answer.

I walked back to my car, ribbon and giant scissors still in hand. This was a first for me, but this was just another day for Kevin. We are lucky to have him Downtown, and the city would be lucky to have him serve on city council. I’m so grateful for all the inspiration at the ribbon cutting, and I’m so happy to have made a difference today.