Saturday, February 27, 2010

More on the Shelter

This month, I had the opportunity to deliver our meal to the shelter we're supporting in San Leandro, Building Futures with Women & Children. According to their website, this shelter "offers 24-hour staffing and client services for 32 women and children. Along with food and shelter, staff provides case management, resources, referrals, advocacy, and household items for residents moving beyond shelter."

Although I've spoken several times with the shelter's manager, Cheryl Houston, this was the first chance I'd had to see the place (because Bob Fagan had so kindly made all the earlier meal deliveries). The shelter is next to Saint Leander Catholic Church and its school, and the property may actually belong to the church—though I'm not sure about that. The entrance is through an unobtrusive and unmarked gate in a high pinkish wall. I had to ask the school crossing guard to point it out to me.

I rang the bell, and the woman on duty came to the gate. Together we carried the food inside. I didn't see much of the place, aside from a cluttered office, a small sitting/TV room, and a kitchen whose shelves and large refrigerator seemed well stocked. A few residents were around, but I didn't have the opportunity to do anything more than smile a "hello."

A Shelter Tour: I asked about the possibility of touring the shelter and was told that we could arrange this through BFWC's central office. I would like to do this in the next month or so, and it would be great if some of you wanted to join me. I'll check in with you all a little later about possible dates—maybe in April or May.

Response to our Dinner Donations: In two earlier conversations with Cheryl Houston, I had asked if she had any feedback for us on the food. She had nothing specific to offer in either case, except that it was ample and the residents didn't complain! Apparently this lack of reaction is typical: the women generally don't comment on the food, unless they find it unpalatable. So not quite the enthusiastic response we would love to hear :)  but it seems that no news is good news in this situation. When I asked about their food donations, I was told that they were generally well provided for; church groups, in particular, are regular donors.

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