At the beginning of 2014 we became aware of a great need in our community, that of the homeless woman. On the Monterey Peninsula, between the coastal communities bordered by Marina in the north and Carmel-by-the-Sea in the south, there are an estimated 350 women living on the street or in their vehicles. They are vulnerable. They have real needs, and the programs in our area are focused primarily on the men because in general it is preferred that men are off the streets at night. Women are not considered as likely to be a problem to society. So there are shelters for the men, but only one 16 bed shelter for women, specifically victims of domestic violence who have children with them. This leaves the rest of the homeless women in the streets or their cars, as long as the cars still run or they can afford fuel for them.
Awareness is rising and there are groups that have formed to assist, but as yet they have not been able to find what the women really need, a permanent place to shelter at night. These women are sometimes victims of rape and physical attack. The average age is early 50’s, many just couldn’t pay their rent any longer, and the oldest the social workers are aware of is 82. She is recovering from two broken legs received when a homeless man jumped on her to get her out of a sleeping spot he wanted to occupy.
One of the brighter lights in this problem is a trial program in Monterey called “The Gathering Place” that offers the women a place to go for two hours every Tuesday to socialize, receive services, clothing, and get a nutritious hot lunch. The program is currently at the hall at San Carlos Cathedral and meets at 11:30 each Tuesday. The women find out about it through word of mouth and small referral cards that are handed out as need is identified. Funding for this program was guaranteed through November 2014 and they are trying to find ways to extend it, but the real need is a permanent facility with a kitchen where they do not need to break down the tables and chairs each time.
SI Carmel Bay “Tote Bag” Program
In support of the work being done at The Gathering Place, SI Carmel Bay has committed funds to purchase and solicit donated necessities for these homeless women, after consulting with the director of The Gathering Place on what it was they need. In June we delivered 50 totes, one for each of the regularly attending women, and we hope to continue this program with money raised and donations from the community at large (contributions can be made on our Donations link).
Here is a list of the items that the women need the most. If you would like to purchase any of these items to donate to this worthy cause we will happily arrange for it to be picked up. Call Marilyn Schultz at (831) 915-5500 to make arrangements.
Toothpaste and floss
Folding Toothbrushes in case
Small First Aid Kit or zip locks filled with:
- Alcohol wipes
Small unused toiletry items
Quart Ziplock freezer bags
2 Gallon plus Ziplocks (used to keep clothes dry)
Plastic packaging from sheet sets/bedding
Ski hats (no red or blue due to gang association)
Bandanas (no red or blue)
Womens’ panties (new)
“Something pretty” because they are women after all
Outside Sleeping Supplies
Mylar Space Blankets
Target gift cards
McDonalds gift cards
Valero Gas Cards – order by mail (about 50% of the women are living in their cars)
MSTS bus “Go Cards” – order by mail (not passes) $20
Laundry cards for Otter Laundry on Soledad Drive in Monterey