A benefit concert for The Association of Faith Communities (AFC), a local 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to alleviating human suffering.
The United Methodist Church of Santa Cruz is hosting a benefit concert for AFC - The Association of Faith Communities - in the First Annual Concert To End Homelessness. AFC are now in their 10th year as a local Santa Cruz nonprofit serving the unhoused, through their Faith Community Shelter program, SafeSpaces Parking program, and Shower Trailer program. Concert doors open at 6:30PM, show starts at 7:00PM and goes 'til 9:00PM, with one 20 minute intermission (with refreshments). Local musicians and singer-songwriters are donating their talents, featuring Jazz the Dog, Joe Chaplain, Madrigal & Strange, Colin Hannon, Nick Royal, Linc Russin + Special Guests! Tickets are $25 in advance, $35 at the door. Mask optional. All donations including ticket purchases are 100% tax-deductible.
AFC is looking for a detail-oriented, reliable and caring individual to work as our Weekday Morning Shelter Coordinator. The role plays an essential part in shelter operations by ensuring shelter members start their day well and that our host sites are left in great condition.
· $20/hr with annual cost of living increases and raises after one year
· 10 hrs/wk
· Shifts are 2 hours each weekday morning with the potential for increased hours down the road
· Benefits include 2 weeks PTO and a retirement plan
· Valid Driver’s License required
· COVID-19 Vaccination required
· Drive a truck and trailer daily to the shelter site, occasionally offering rides to shelter members
· Foster a safe and welcoming environment for shelter members and volunteers
· Ensure host sites are left clean and in good condition by overseeing assigned chores and assisting as needed
· Lend an ear to shelter members, offer support, and share in joys and successes
· Welcome new shelter members, helping them acclimate and answering questions
· Ensure shelter members complete assigned chores
· Ensure shelter members are abiding by community guidelines and COVID protocols
· Monitor shelter supply levels and notify the Program Manager when more are needed
· Notify Program Manager of any maintenance issues with the truck
· Participate in a monthly staff meeting via Zoom
Job Type: Part-time
Pay: From $20.00 per hour
All staff, shelter members and volunteers are fully vaccinated. Rapid testing is always available, and masks are worn on site.
To apply, click the link below, or email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Get to Go Home!
Jeannie came to Santa Cruz 30 years ago to study sculpture. Like many locals, she lived the artist lifestyle. She worked as a potter, a farmer and started her own jam business, living on local farms and in art studios along the way. Her jam business grew a loyal base of customers and kept her committed to the area. “Santa Cruz is one of the best places in the world to be a jam maker,” Jeannie noted. Even with the business growing, housing became increasingly tough to find. Eventually, she began living in her car, and when that became too tough, she joined the Faith Community Shelter in early 2020.
From there, she rode out pandemic in the safety of the shelter, making jam when she could. As vaccines rolled out, her partner Eric decided to move from Colorado in hopes of helping Jeannie find stable housing. He remembers his plan well. “Come out. Get a job, and get Jeannie out of the shelter. I had to get her out, and I couldn’t do it from Colorado.” He quickly found work and support through the Homeless Garden Project and began saving for their future.
About that same time, the couple was awarded a housing voucher, which would allow them to rent an apartment and pay only 30% of their income. The couple, and AFC staff, began scouring rental listings. Their housing search was long, and often filled with disappointment, until one day last summer. A landlord who had a good experience with another AFC participant called shelter staff to say he had another rental available, and he'd love to rent to another shelter member.
Jeannie and Eric toured the quaint duplex in the redwoods, loved it, and were approved on the spot. Within a couple of weeks, they were moved in, and Jeannie was cooking gourmet meals and making jam.
While the couple’s stay at the shelter wasn’t perfect – moving everyday can be hard – one of the most impactful experiences was the hospitality of FCS volunteers. “The people were so generous. We at like kings and queens,” Eric reflected.
Jeannie summed up their journey well. “I still look at Eric and say we get to go home!...It’s like a miracle. I can’t believe it’s actually happening!”
Want to try Jeannie’s Jams? Visit her site: http://www.jeanniesjams.com/.
celebrating 10 years, by the numbers
Last May, we celebrated our 10th Anniversary. We took the time to look back at all we have accomplished. Each number is a story and, boy, there are a lot of stories. Here are the numbers.
Safe Spaces Program
Faith Community Shelter
Mobile Shower Trailer
Not Who You might think
Our unhoused neighbors each have a story, as we all do, and those stories often don't fit the stereotypes in our heads. Chris K. has been in Santa Cruz for 50 years. He needed a break to get back on his feet, and he got it through SafeSpaces. Chris is a working writer and published author. He has been unhoused here since 2015. He came to AFC SafeSpaces in June, 2021. This interview with Chris was conducted by Fr. Joseph Jacobs, Program Manager for AFC SafesSpaces, at the Rodeway Inn IQV Hotel, a program that recently shut down.
Q: How long have you been unhoused in Santa Cruz County?
A: For about 7 years; prior to that I had a place in LaSelva Beach for about a year, I had to move out quickly, it wasn’t safe. That’s when I started staying in my vehicle. For a while I used to find short term rentals easily. Before AirBnB, I’d rent a place for 1-3 months at a time, in between staying in my car. I just kind of “gypsied about” and found places I could furtively park my van, sleep, and leave during the day. I’m a pretty busy person, working, so I don’t hang about during the day.
Q: Where were you born?
A: Southern California.
Q: How long have you been in Santa Cruz County?
A: Since 1971, but for two years I lived in Mill Valley, while I wrote my first novel.
Q: How did you hear about SafeSpaces?
A: I think I found you on the internet. I had read about it in the newspaper, looked it up and called you. You got me into SafeSpaces at a church in Aptos. And then after that you got me in here [Rodeway Inn IQV Hotel program] really fast. It was a blessing. It was hard living in my van. I’ll say this much. I don’t think I would have survived a whole lot longer, and I really mean that, if it wasn’t for you and AFC. I was just exhausted, my foot was really wrecked [from a bad injury], it was hard to get around, it really wears you down. I still had some income from my writing, but it wasn’t enough to afford a place to rent and make ends meet, to pay my credit card bills every month. I was really losing energy fast and winding down. So, it was a blessing that it all showed up when it did. I don’t think I would have survived much longer.
Q: Yes, I made the referral for you to the IQV hotel program, and they took you right away.
A: Yes, that was amazing! I didn’t expect that. They’ve been great, I can’t say enough good about the staff here, they’ve all been superb. They’re very friendly. Colleen, the social worker who was working with me on the Section 8 voucher, she’s fantastic, wonderful, couldn’t ask for better.
Q: So long have you been here at the hotel?
A: Since the end of July, 2021.
Q: After you were here, how long before they took your application for Section 8?
A: Within a month, I had to get stuff, a copy of my birth certificate, bank statements, I finally got it all together and submitted it in January, then the Housing Authority interviewed me in February and then they called me and said “OK, you qualify, your packet will come in the mail.”
Q: Yes, we’ve found that the whole thing is pretty quick, once the application is submitted with all the documentation, they turn in around quickly.
A: I’m going to find a place in Watsonville as soon as possible. I don’t want to go back to my car. Now that I’ve been inside with a roof over my head for six months it would be really hard to go back to that. With ankylosing spondylitis [a form of inflammatory arthritis] you have to do a lot of physical activity, and I’ve been really disciplined about that. Every day I do three hours of physical therapy exercises, including walking barefoot for 30 minutes in moderately soft sand. It’s very therapeutic, so I want to keep fairly close to beach access for that.
Q: So, you finished your second novel while you’ve been here?
A: Yes, I finished the second draft while I was here, I got right to it, and I’m just doing final editing now. It was a big gift to be able to finish it here.
Q: Any final words about AFC and SafeSpaces?
A: I just think it’s a fantastic program, I’m so grateful to you guys. It’s a life saver, a Godsend. I think all the people that have anything to do with it have all been really great, and that makes a big difference. There’s no attitude of condescension, just all really good people, and they’re good to you. Thank God they came up with this program. It sure pulled me out of the rapids!
SafeSpaces Adds Case Management
With our safe parking number growing to around 50 participants, we realized a need for more staff to help people move to a better place in their lives. Every three years the County and City of Santa Cruz takes proposals in eight different funding areas including housing, health, arts, and equity through its Collective of Results and Evidence Based Investments (CORE). AFC put in a bid to enhance our case management services and are excited to announce that we have secured funding for three years.
Applications from scores of other non-profits doing excellent work were submitted, and only about one third received funding. The award sets funding for three years in a climate where most money is only available year to year. Our new Case Manager will work with SafeSpaces participants to develop and work to achieve permanent housing. Whether it’s getting the medical attention needed, services that lead to employment or better employment, earned benefits like disability or mental health care, building a foundation of resources is essential to get better housing.