The speaker at the Rotary Club of San Marcos Wednesday was Doug Cross from Havens For Hope. The meeting was led by President David Bandy at the Price Senior Center.
Cross discussed the Havens For Hope program and how it will be available to serve the homeless in San Marcos and surrounding areas. He informed the Rotarians that nearly half of the homeless are families with children and thirty percent are veterans. He discussed transformation services and how they want to prevent the warehousing of the homeless.
In early 2006, San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger and business and civic leader Bill Greehey, met to discuss the serious and growing problem of homelessness in Bexar County. The mayor then established the Community Council to End Homelessness, naming Greehey as chairman of the effort and then District 5 City Councilwoman Radle Co-Chair. Greehey, Radle, and the rest of the council, which is composed of community and business leaders, were charged with developing a plan to reduce homelessness in San Antonio. The group conducted extensive research on homelessness and visited and studied successful homeless centers around the country.
Cross presented a power point presentation about treating the root causes of homelessness with a wide array of social services (education, job training, day care, substance abuse treatment, medical care, identification recovery, case management, etc.) in a single, central location resulted in a 60% success rate (defined as a year of totally self-sufficient living) in San Diego. Cross noted that crime went down by 19.5% in the neighborhood of the center after its completion.
The facility will be partnered by several professional groups from the San Antonio Police Department, Veteran’s Administration, and area church based programs.
A single facility hosting all of the key service providers in a campus-style environment is more effective than having services spread throughout the community.
It is imperative that the facility be managed by an independent board, free of political red tape.
Cross covered the goals for Havens for Hope, which included combining the best practices of each service in a central location. The group set a vision for Haven for Hope, which will be an innovative facility that will provide a wide range of social services to meet the needs of San Antonio’s homeless community in a “one-stop” setting. Far beyond shelter, food and clothing, Havens for Hope’s services will be geared to combat the root causes of homelessness, with dozens of partner agencies providing the services.
Plans call for a large campus to be built near downtown in San Antonio, close to existing social service facilities. The project will be funded through a combination of public funds (city, county and federal) as well as private donations.
Once complete, this center will immediately improve lives in Bexar and Hays County. It will also represent tremendous cost savings, since it is much less expensive to treat the homeless in a center of this kind than it is through publicly funded emergency rooms or other care facilities. Effective treatment also keeps the homeless out of the legal system and jail, and additional research shows that up to 80 percent of people who become homeless within a given year can exit homelessness quickly – if they get the assistance they need.
The facility will offer Residential Areas for Families and Individuals which will include emergency and longer-term shelter, medical services, and much more for this underserved group of society.
Cross said, ‘We want the homeless from San Marcos, bring them to us.” “We must get the homeless off the streets and give them help, we have the right to keep our own homes unlocked and fix this problem.” If everyone lived by the Rotary 4-way test we wouldn’t have these problems in the world.”
In Rotary news, they welcomed visitor Margaret Oswalt from Mantee, Mississippi. The group discussed the EarlyAct First Knight that will be sponsored by the San Marcos Rotary Club. This program will be geared toward first grade children through the fifth grades at Crockett Elementary this coming school year.
The group recognized Rotarian of the Week J. Ronald Oswalt. Ron and wife Machel have two children, Aubrey and Hayden. Ron works in the internet news industry as the Sales Director for San Marcos Newstreamz.com. He is also a member of the Kiwanis of San Marcos and Southern Mississippi Alumni Association. He said his greatest memory as a child is watching the Jackson, MS Mets, AA Team play and also going to SEC football games at Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi. He also remembers going to the races at Jackson International Speedway with his Dad, James.
He says his best (work-related) advice he received and would like to share is, “Stay positive and make your own way in the world.” Ron became a Rotarian this past July.
He graduated from Mississippi Baptist High School in 1982. Ron attended the University of Southern MS where he received his Bachelors of Science Degree in 1989. His greatest accomplishment is being on the Board of Directors for Sigma Phi Epsilon Social Fraternity at USM and Jones County, and being USM Alumni President.
Ron grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. He enjoys sports, photography, Southern Miss and Rattlers football at San Marcos. His most memorable trip was watching a Texas Rangers game in Dallas with his family. He also looks forward to watching USM beat Rice in October. Ron enjoys Christmas and listening to 70’s and 80’s rock music. His all-time favorite movie is “The Longest Yard”. Ron enjoys football, basketball, and baseball.
Special thanks to Diane Riojas of the Rotary Club for story contributions.
David Bandy discusses issues with Rotary members at the Price Center.
Rotarians fill the Price Center to learn more about helping the homeless.
Doug Cross speaks about Havens For Hope program for homeless in our area.