This week we were privileged to receive a presentation of a photo essay created by Pam Moulton, Susan Nelson and Gail Ginder
This week we were privileged to receive a presentation of a photo essay created by Pam Moulton, Susan Nelson and Gail Ginder. They have been working together as photographers for several years. Their history goes back to when they took classes at the junior college and ultimately went on to take other professional courses including travel courses and photography taking them around the world. It was natural that they would come together to work on a project dealing with homelessness in Sonoma County. It was a mind changing experience for all three of them, probably best summed up by stating that it involved meeting people, learning their history and being in the moment with the people that they were photographing.
They had planned to take pictures to help with the North Sonoma County Services program to help raise awareness of homeless people in Sonoma County. Once they started on the project, they spent more time talking with the homeless people than actually photographing them and discovered that homelessness goes far beyond  simply being  without a "home".
For Pam, this was one of those "aha moments" that helped her to understand and feel at a more personal level why she is involved in Rotary. in relating her story of working with three separate men, often with all of them together, she learned that  her stereotyped concept of homelessness was shattered and she learned that each of these men were kind, generous, good spirited, willing to give much more than they had physically to help those around them. One word could not define homelessness.
Each of the photographers presented a brief profile of one or more of the people that they photographed.
Rick Cafferata had his story told which was indeed heartwarming, as well as a testimony to the inner strength that Rick has had and has displayed as he has gone from being homeless and at times hopeless to a person who is now in charge of outreach to the homeless community of North Sonoma County. He is soon to be married, has regained custody of a daughter, and is doing work that he absolutely loves.
Janelle, no last name, was a person without a home. She did not define herself as homeless. That was a concept that she could not embrace. She had medical problems along with troubles with alcohol abuse and despite the efforts of the local community, she was unable to find what she needed and has gradually drifted away from the area. No one is quite sure what has happened to her.
Most encounters with the homeless, if they are viewed with acceptance, can lead to positive outcomes. Reestablishing Social Security benefits, reinstating drivers licenses, assistance with job applications and resume creations, and simple opportunities to serve in a meaningful capacity helping others all lead to an improved outcome for people who are without homes.
The three women will have a another showing at Paul Mahder gallery starting on May 13. On May 20 there will be a one person show presented by its author, a high school senior in Sebastopol who will be telling a story about a homeless woman. The women are hopeful that we can also have another Club night at the gallery including the noon Club, Kiwanis, Soroptimist and AAUW.
There were comments at the end of the meeting about a new program called Share Sonoma. This is a program to coordinate placement of people with limited housing opportunities in the homes of elderly people who have extra rooms that they could stay in. There are approximately 35,000 empty rooms available in the county for this type of service. There is a new app called Sheltering US that allows people who are willing to share rooms with people who need them. Sonoma County Properties is also working on a loan program to help people with these rooms upgrade their properties to improve accessibility for some of the special needs exhibited by homeless people.
Members are encouraged to attend the show at the Mahder gallery on Healdsburg Avenue starting on May 13.