The City of Santa Cruz is an important partner in our work of providing Transitional jobs to people who are homeless. Here, several voices advocate to Santa Cruz City Council members on behalf of HGP and the people we serve.
Dear City Council Members,
I met my husband, Eugene, right before he became homeless. Because I believed in him, I continued seeing him after he became homeless. He looked for work but couldn’t find it. The economy was horrible, and his own past mistakes lead him to this desperate place.
He is a person with a brilliant sense of humor, gratitude for whatever he’s given, and respect for others.
Unfortunately life threw him many challenges early on and he needed some time to catch up with the rest of the working force. There aren’t a lot of people with compassion, much less a place for people who are disadvantaged to go and feel accepted, part of the team, and valued as individuals.
Eugene found The Homeless Garden Project as a last chance. When someone finally hits rock bottom and reaches out for help and can’t find it, it has to be miserable.
People who find The Homeless Garden Project want to work. They want to improve their lives; they want that last chance to change. We all know sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to finally want to change. This happened for Eugene. He stayed at the Project for one and one-half years, carefully rebuilding his dignity, resume and character. And also constantly looked for more work.
Finally he found a job at a hotel and has been there for a year now with no problem. We married this past December. I believe in Eugene. The HGP believed in Eugene, and the people who help fund HGP believe in others like Eugene. We all want people to improve themselves, society, and our city. We all want to help people without homes. Please do your part; you have an amazing opportunity to make a huge difference in our city, our society, and the personal lives of the individuals who go to the HGP for help, a last chance, a change. Thank you for your time.
You might well wonder why I, who do not live in Santa Cruz, am writing you regarding the Homeless Garden Project. The answer is simple: We here in Redlands, at the Redlands United Church of Christ, knew of the absolute and incredible success of your project and wished to replicate that project here in our city using your Homeless Gardens as a blueprint for our own.
To that end we had Chrissi Brewer, past coordinator of your Gardens come and spend an afternoon with us laying out specifics and general necessities. She was wonderful and we became more convinced than ever that as soon as the land we were waiting for became available we would act quickly. We already feed homeless youth in the area on a regular basis and this seems a logical next step. With Chrissi’s amazing knowledge and ability to see things transformed we became excited about a whole new city-wide ministry based on your Homeless Garden Project.
To think that the very prototype for our possible project is in danger of going under is heart-breaking. I would ask you to reconsider your position on this matter; the Homeless Garden Project has given life to many people who have worked there. I know- I have come and visited and seen how important this place, this work, is to them. It’s not just work. It’s the sacredness of digging in the soil, seeing things you have planted grow. I’ve seen broken people start their healing journey because of this Garden.
Please reconsider. Much more is at stake here than saving a few dollars in a budget.
Thank you for your time.
I am going to incorporate everything I have learned at the Homeless Garden Project into my life. In fact, I want to transform my life to fit into the mission statement and purpose of HGP.
I have found a new love for gardening as volunteering there has taught me how to plant seeds, thin produce so it grows to the right size, weed and flip over old vegetation so it decomposes, wheel barrel compost and harvest flowers.
But more importantly, my placement has taught me how to be a part of a welcoming community and connect with strangers in a very compassionate way. I cannot repay HGP for the lessons they have taught me this quarter. I have now seen what true empathy and compassion looks like through the eyes of those who have truly struggled. The most amazing part about these people’s stories is the fact that they have had so many injustices thrust upon them, yet they stay some of the warmest, most selfless people I have ever met.
I realize I need to seek out these kinds of communities and organizations whereever I end up next, because this welcoming place with its meditative and collective qualities offered some of the most rewarding activities I did this quarter. It connected me to a vulnerable population of people I have wanted to interact with–but never knew how to get into a comfortable space for both of us; it has filled my mind with all the things I want to continue to do to make sure that there continues to be a safety net for people who have been mistreated.
I do not believe anyone is born evil. I think people come from different circumstances and must do what they have to in order to survive. If we gave everyone a chance regardless of their history, I think our society could be a lot more just, equal, productive and harmonious.
Thank you Esprit for offering this amazing opportunity to get involved with the community and teach me so much!