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COVID-19 AGENCY UPDATE

Racism Must End | Our Work & Commitment

Posted on Category CEO Updates, Updates

We’ve heard a lot lately that we’re living in unprecedented times.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “fierce urgency of now” has perhaps never been more important than it is today as a call to pay attention, to wake up, and to do something. It’s hard to believe that it was over a half-century ago when Dr. King spoke those words, calling for “vigorous and positive action” for the rights of people of color.

For many in our community, the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual anguish brought on by recent events is only the most current incarnation within a lifetime of experiencing oppression in various forms. As Dr. King also said, “the riot is the language of the unheard.” It is no longer just COVID-19 bringing the pain of inequities to our awareness. It is the ugly reality of systemic and structural racism broadcast live and giving us witness to specific acts of brutality against Black people, like the murder of George Floyd, that has made the injustices in our society and in our own backyard reach what many of us see as a turning point. We cannot go back. Voice and action will create progress toward social justice.

The Community Action Partnership of over 1,000 agencies across the country stands strong against racism. Its commitment to our human family, to the diversity of all of us, resonates here at our agency:

Currently, there is no cure to the health pandemic nor the social pandemic. While we are one human family, both conditions aim to separate us, both aim to weaken us, both aim to dehumanize us and threaten our well-being. During this time of heightened social anxiety, Community Action affirms that our healing as a county and as a nation is tied to strengthening our connections as neighbors, family members, co-workers, and communities. Our values assert, “We believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect and recognize that structural race, gender, and other inequities remain barriers that must be addressed.” If we truly believe this, we must live it.

We commit ourselves to the health and well-being of everyone and to problem-solving systems and structures that will dismantle disparities and social determinants. We must move beyond social media into constructive anti-racist action that might even cause some of us to have to sacrifice comfort or advantage.

For all lives to matter, Black lives must matter. My hope is that the people of Marin County will together aspire to reflect an affluence of hope, of justice, and of peace—making this a perfect time to act and be one for all of us.

RACISM MUST END!

Read the full Community Action Partnership solidarity statement here

West Marin Partnership Announced

Posted on Category Newsletters, UpdatesTagged ,

On April 28th, the Bolinas Stinson Unified School District (BSUSD) Board approved a partnership with Community Action Marin that will support preschool for all three- and four-year-old children at the district-operated Bolinas Preschool. While details of the partnership are yet to be finalized, BSUSD will be the program operator.

Our agency will continue to provide enrollment in the California State Preschool Program (CSPP) to all income-eligible families. We anticipate that this partnership will support enhanced parent engagement programming, inclusive of a bilingual family advocate position.

The agency’s commitment to the Bolinas-Stinson community continues to strengthen. As the operator of the Family Child Care Network in Marin County, Community Action Marin is actively recruiting for a family child care home operator in the Bolinas-Stinson area to provide high-quality early education for infants and toddlers. We are also exploring the potential to offer developmental play groups for parents with very young children.

We are excited that the partnership between BSUSD and the agency will allow Community Action Marin to focus on the needs of children ages 0-2, while the district will provide high-quality early education for three- and four-year-old children. We believe that the community as a whole will benefit from our collaboration and vision for what’s possible together, leveraging our strengths, new resources, and community good will.

Photo caption: Bolinas Stinson Preschool (BSUSD) will be a partner with the agency’s efforts to provide more resources for families in the Bo-Stin community.

Enterprise Recovery Center: Emotional Warmth

Posted on Category Stories, UpdatesTagged , , , ,

Although the Enterprise Recovery Center (ERC) is closed at this time, our site manager, Darcy Woodall, and peer support staff, Jennifer Carter, are keeping office hours daily. This is in part because many homeless people in crisis are still showing up at the center since it’s a respite they know and trust. The two team members are able to provide appropriate referrals and crisis intervention, working to ensure that people who come are not a threat to themselves or others.

During the course of the pandemic, they have helped to transport individuals to the hospital for non-COVID health emergencies. Some may not have made it there on their own. Recently, they coordinated with the county’s Adult Case Management, our agency’s own CARE Team doing homeless outreach and coordination, and the local police to have a client who was experiencing a mental health crisis transported to the hospital’s crisis stabilization unit. This was someone they had been dealing with for years, a woman who has been traditionally resistant to services and usually manages to mask her symptoms.  The work is hard and can take a lot out of staff. We are grateful for the difference they are making!

The WarM Line: Emotional Support

As soon as the ERC team understood that it would be necessary to close, they began to think about how best to continue offering mental and emotional support to community. With some focused effort, the agency launched extended hours for the Warm Line the day the statewide shelter-in-place order was released.  Peer staff were redeployed, offering 9am to midnight service. Even though this was not publicized in advance, people wanting to connect immediately began to call. Many expressed acute anxiety around how they would manage the disruptions to daily routines and needed recovery tools and assets, including mental health doctors.  Some have asked for information about available resources such as food banks.

In the past week alone, the incredible Warm Line peer support staff have fielded over 150 calls. There are a lot of callers still concerned about the pandemic. Many people check in daily and some several times a day to just feel companionship. Callers express relief and gratitude that they are able to reach out for support; to hear a human voice. As one staff member shared:

People are having a hard time staying indoors. One group home has very strict rules about people going out which was distressing for the clients that live there. Some people are worried that they will contract the virus. While these difficulties exist people in general are trying not to panic and stay positive. Also, callers are looking for more information about the Coronavirus. One lady is concerned because she is still going to work and feels vulnerable.

Additionally, many people do not have (due to limited financial resources) either cable or Internet service and have a hard time accessing reliable information. People who struggle with psychosis (particularly auditory hallucinations) are finding it more difficult to cope with the intense isolation.  It is clear to ERC staff and to callers that the impacts of the isolation would be much worse without access to the Warm Line.

The agency has also installed a second phone line in order to create a Spanish Language Warm Line. We are working on staffing this right now, looking into extended partnerships with other nonprofit organizations in the county.

While the expansion of the Warm Line was the right solution, its impact and success is only because of the dedication, empathy, and wisdom of the staff and volunteers who have been unfailingly heroic, patient, and compassionate. To all, we are grateful and proud of your commitment in community!

Learn more and contact us

 

CARE Teams During COVID-19

Posted on Category Stories, UpdatesTagged , , ,

UPDATED April 26, 2020

Our homeless outreach teams are called CARE Teams. CARE stands for Community Alternative Response & Engagement. The three teams share a mission to work with and support the homeless, or those at risk of becoming homeless, in Marin County.

CARE Team One, funded through the county’s Behavioral Health & Recovery Services, is working exclusively in West Marin. There are limited services available to the homeless population in Pt. Reyes, Tomales, Inverness, Stinson Beach, and Bolinas, which is the route this team covers. Michael Payne and Peter Planteen, both veterans of this work, are our staff for this team. They check in regularly on people who are living in cars, campers, or who are otherwise on the street. They work closely with Health & Human Services, West Marin Community Services, and the Coastal Health Alliance at Pt. Reyes Station. Michael and Peter have been told by multiple members of the community that this CARE Team is, in Michael’s words, “the only game in town.”

In normal circumstances, the team will traverse West Marin on Mondays and Tuesdays. However, due to requests from partners and members of the West Marin community, for the last month and a half due to the pandemic, Michael and Peter have been in West Marin much more. On an average day, if there is such a thing in this work, the two men will seek out and engage eight or nine clients. Michael shares:

What do we do? Everything from A to Z and more. It is important to understand that unlike the homeless, as well as the homeless mentally ill and the homeless dually diagnosed (with mental illness and substance abuse) in other parts of the county, the homeless in West Marin have very little support services.

Food? Sometimes the only food for some of the homeless comes from the food pantries in Pt. Reyes Station and Bolinas. When these food pantries are closed situations can become dire; some folks will either beg or go without food at all. We know one woman who, having no income or support, uses any means available to her to acquire money for food.

Michael continues,

Where do the homeless live? Some live in the woods, some live in their cars, and some spend the night on porches. There are three people Peter and I know who have endured nights huddled together for warmth on the floor of the Post Office in Pt Reyes Station, when it has been cold or raining.

It’s tough. Peter relates that he recently found a homeless young man sleeping in mud, under a wet blanket, who hadn’t eaten for a day and a half. And Michael says it can all hit one pretty hard. “Yesterday, Peter and I drove out to North Beach to eat our sandwiches we had bought for lunch. For a while we just sat in the van in silence, staring out at the ocean.”  The team keeps its eyes on people, looking for anything that indicates something is different today for this person. Michael relates,

Every time Peter and I engage with a person we look for signs that something is different from that last time we saw the person. We have ‘eyes on.’ We monitor the entire engagement looking for anything that has changed either for the better or worse. We then review our findings and based on our assessment we determine a course of action. Interventions range from counseling to soliciting help from service providers such as West Marin Community Health and Human Services, the Coast Health Alliance Medical Clinic, the West Marin Community Services Agency, and/or the West Marin County Sheriff’s Department.

Who are some of the people and what are some of the services that CARE Team One provides?

  • M (male) – found riding a bicycle in circles; services provided; eyes on.
  • S (female) – missing three days; found living in her car near the ocean with little food and no water; services provided; purchased water and sundry items.
  • V (male) – found sleeping on the ground under a tree in the woods; services provided; transported to Novato for medical support and later to a motel room in San Rafael.
  • K (female) – missing two days; found huddled in a corner of the public rest rooms at Point Reyes Station; services provided; medical support from Coastal Health Alliance for scabies and lice.
  • N (adolescent male) – missing four days; found sitting on a bench outside the Pt Reyes Food Pantry. N now has boots on his feet but no laces to hold them on (used to walk around barefoot); services provided; eyes on and counseling.
  • H (male) – found in his car outside food bank in Point Reyes Station (has blood clots in legs, uses crutches to walk around); services provided; eyes on and counseling; monitoring medical condition.
  • J (female) – missing two days; found sitting in her car outside of town (has trouble walking due to edema); services provided; eyes on and counseling; monitoring medical condition.
  • K (male) – found sitting on a porch on top of blanket (left foot broken approximately six months ago; no medical treatment); services provided; eyes on and counseling; monitoring medical condition.
  • C (male) – sleeps in his van, missing two days (moderate to sever memory problems due to medical condition; C smiles every time he sees us, but often can not remember our names); services provided; eyes on and counseling; working with Coastal Health Alliance to monitor symptoms.
  • P (male) – missing.
  • R (male)– often missing but sometimes contacts us via phone, meeting us outside the Point Reyes Food Pantry; services provided; eyes on and counseling.

The team was recently able to get an 81-year-old homeless, wheelchair-bound man in Mill Valley into a motel in San Rafael.  Working with partner agencies, Homeward Bound and St. Vincent’s, the team was able to secure him a room.   Michael notes, “I took a look at this man’s legs and feet; the feet were swollen and bluish in color.  He said he had diabetes but had not seen a doctor nor had any medication, so I informed county staff at the motel about his situation and they were going to call to get a medical evaluation.  Peter and I intend to follow-up.”

It takes a county-wide collaboration to ensure that the people our CARE Team encounters are given the treatment and support they need.  One of our agency’s Peer Support Specialists, Hasani Moore, usually working alongside county case managers, has shifted to the county’s response team helping to get the homeless into motels that have been converted to shelters. The temporary residents were offered rooms so they could shelter in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Hasani is providing overnight staffing support. “The coolest part,” he says, “is seeing people who have been out on the street now getting housed, at least temporarily, and hearing them be appreciative of that. They’ve been outside so long and they’re not used to being cooped up. Some of them have issues that are triggered by being quarantined, but I’m telling them this is a good thing and they can relax.”

Collaboration can mean the difference between life and death for someone. Michael sums up his report:

Suffice to say that the current pandemic, COVID-19, has made our job much more difficult. However, difficult does not mean impossible. Peter and I will continue to do our best to provides services to those who without our help would have no services at all. This afternoon had a referral from Homeward Bound about a homeless woman in San Anselmo who is living in her car and apparently quite symptomatic.  Peter and I intend to follow up on her Monday morning after we have a meeting about the homeless census count here in Marin. We’re staying busy!

Want to learn more or contact us?

Visit the care team page

Warmline Now in Spanish | Support During Difficult Times

Posted on Category UpdatesTagged , , ,

UPDATED MAY 17, 2020

In an effort to curb the spread of COVID 19, state and local officials have issued a shelter in place order. As a result, many of us are experiencing fear about the future, confusion, and loneliness due to restricted contact with our peers, friends, and loved ones. Even though the Enterprise Recovery Center is closed at this time, we are still available to help.

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that mental health issues are a concern for about 50% of Americans as the COVID-15 health crisis continues. This is particularly true for families and those who have lost income because of the pandemic. For over twenty years, Community Action Marin’s Mental Health program has operated the “Warm Line,” a call in service where trained Peer Support Specialists are available by phone for anyone who feels the need to talk.

The Warm Line is not a counseling service. Instead, people listen, and if callers want feedback, the Peer Support Specialists may make suggestions. All staff are familiar with the services available in Marin County (mental health and other services) so can direct people to places where they can get additional help, whether it is a mental health service, a food bank or affordable child care.

WARM LINE EXTENDED HOURS: ENGLISH SUPPORT

(415) 459-6330

During these stressful times, we recognize the importance of providing extra care, comfort, and support to those with mental health challenges. For this reason, we are extending our peer support Warmline to 9am until midnight, 7 days a week.

Community Action Marin Launches Spanish Language Mental Health Warm Line

(415) 457-4026

On May 4, Community Action Marin launched a Warm Line for Spanish Speakers.  Marin’s Latinx population have been disproportionately economically affected by the restrictions of Shelter in Place as many work in low wage, public-facing jobs that do not offer a “work from home” option. The Warm Line will begin with limited hours; 1PM – 6PM,  7 days a week provided by bilingual staff from Community Action Marin’s Family Partners program.

Responding in Community | COVID-19

Posted on Category CEO Updates, UpdatesTagged

UPDATED JUNE 1, 2020

Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Community,

We are looking ahead at how we can best serve and center community as news of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and impact continues. We are looking at Marin Recovers and are concerned about mental health and the abundant inequities facing communities of low income, undocumented workers, child care operators, immigrant communities, and communities of color.  We are working hard in response to create more programs, raise awareness, and deploy more resources for those in need.  Thanks to generous community support, we continue to ensure that rental assistance, individual cash grants, homeless outreach, and mental health supports strengthen. To date, we have delivered and secured over $2M in resources for those most in need. I invite you to join us!

We are also taking measures to support our employees and are extremely grateful for all who have stepped up to support Marin County at this time. Thank you donors like you, we are able to make new services and supports available through our Step Up Community Fund.

DONATE to our step up community fund

Bookmark this page so that you can get the latest insights about our most current operations. On this page you will find additional guidance about our agency’s response and services. Community Action Marin is open in solidarity with community and other human service agencies in the county.

Are You a Community Member Impacted Directly by COVID-19 and Shelter-in-Place?

Take our survey so that we can better understand and meet your needs.

Take Our community survey

Here is what you need to know about our response:

  • Our Home Office at 555 Northgate Drive in San Rafael will continue to provide client intake over the phone (415-526-7500) and homeless outreach county-wide, as well as safety net services such as rental assistance, utility assistance, and emergency food boxes. We will also continue to offer financial coaching services (appointments available) and mental health supports. We are looking at a July 1, 2020 re-open date with designated community hours. Stay tuned for details. 
  • Agency Orientations are paused through June 30, 2020 and all registered participants are being notified and rescheduled. We are working on rolling out virtual agency orientations in English and Spanish. Call our home office to register as these come online.
  • Census2020 support will continue for 0-5 and homeless hard-to-count populations through our CARE Teams and emergency child care workers as we coordinate with others throughout the county. Questionnaire Assistance Centers are not open at this time but phone-in support to ensure you get the help you need is available. See details below.
  • Warm Line Emotional Support is availale 7 days a week. Operating since March 23rd (English), our telephone peer mental health support services are open from 9am to 12am (midnight) every day. If you or someone you know is feeling isolated, depressed, or anxious, call us at 415-459-6330 to speak with someone and get the emotional support you need. We launched our Spanish Warm Line this month and now have operations every day. Take a look at hours and number here.
  • Questions? Call: 415-526-7500 to get all other questions answered and information to meet your needs. We are coordinating with the county, other community-based organizations, and the emergency response office to ensure we continue to meet the needs of our staff and families. At this time, we are requesting that callers leave only one message to ensure that our staff can keep up with messages and a timely response.

Rent Help & Cash Assistance

Rental Assistance help is available; please call only one agency if you are looking for rental assistance. Call 415-473-7191 to see if you are eligible. NOTE: Marin County has a ban on evictions through June 30th. Learn more about the county’s efforts to prevent homelessness here.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT RENTAL ASSISTANCE & CASH GRANTS
  • Is Rental Assistance still available? Background: The County of Marin and Marin Community Foundation provided $650,000 in Emergency Rental Assistance for the month of April. This amount was quickly used and more funds came online thanks to generous donors and the county in May. We continue to coordinate efforts across Marin to ensure that those in need of support get the help they need.
  • How do families apply? Families must call the County of Marin’s COVID-19 Information Line (415) 473-7191. A waiting list has been created and people will be contacted in the order that they have called. Please let people know that it may take a while before they get a return call as all agencies are experiencing a very high volume of calls.
  • Will Rental Assistance be available in May? All applications for the month of April will be processed before May rent is paid. May assistance is now available and we are working with the county to go through the waitlist of those in need. Thank you for your patience.
  • Are other Rental Assistance funds available? A number of different agencies throughout Marin are providing rental assistance not only through this fund but using other resources. If you hear that requirements are different at different agencies or that some agencies are providing more than one month’s rent, it is because they are using other funds. This fund pays for rent only. No deposits, no mortgages, no hotel stays or other non-traditional living situations.
  • Is Deposit Assistance available? Yes. Community Action Marin has Season of Sharing funds available for deposits. Families can still call the same agencies on the Season of Sharing referral list, but when they call, they should make sure to say that they are calling for DEPOSIT assistance, so they don’t end up on the rental wait list.
  • Cash Assistance has been provided to over 435 clients already based on prioritized income and need. We continue to invite donations to support the community, especially for those in our immigrant community and low-wage essential workers who face tremendous challenges now. Households will be contacted this week thanks to generous donors at the Marin Community Foundation.

Children and Family Services Update

Regular child care services offered through Head Start, Early Head Start, and our Child Development Program are paused through June 30th. We do have spaces available for essential workers. Contact: Kelsey Lombardi at klombardi@camarin.org to learn more. 

  • Healthy Meals. We continue to provide each enrolled child across our programs with healthy meals. Drive through for Brown Bag lunches available for pickup Monday (for Monday and Tuesday), Wednesday (for Wednesday and Thursday) and Friday 10-11:30am. Cereal, fruits, yogurt, and other items are available regularly as well, enough for your family. We are also delivering to Marin City daily. Families, please check your text messages for details and ongoing updates. If you are an enrolled family and have questions, email us at cam@camarin.org.
  • Essential Worker Child Care. We are providing essential workers’ families with child care support and will keep community updated as more services become available. We are working to open additional classrooms for all essential workers and children with special needs or at-risk during this challenging time.

Please check our Facebook page for up-to-the-minute information as the situation unfolds. We are also sharing some health resources for all community here (Spanish), (Mandarin), and (English) from our partner Kaiser Permanente.

Need Food?

Here are two great resources to find what you need.

Census 2020 & Tax Update

Stay informed and ensure you respond to your census form online or on the phone.

 

  • 2019 Taxes. The tax filing deadline has been extended until July 15, 2020. Taxpayers can also defer federal income tax payments due on April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. See the announcement from the IRS here . As soon as the agency reopens, we will resume our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) filing services.  Contact Debbie Brown to learn more.NOTE: The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) announced on April 1 that Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns will not need to file an abbreviated tax return to receive an economic impact payment. The IRS will use the information on the Form SSA-1099 to generate $1,200 economic impact payments to Social Security beneficiaries who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. Treasury, not Social Security, will make automatic payments to Social Security beneficiaries.  Beneficiaries will receive these payments by direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their Social Security benefits. For updates from the IRS, visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
  • Census 2020 has been extended and work will continue through fall (October). Help us get needed resources to Marin County. You, your children, your elders, and everyone in hour household counts! Would you like to volunteer? Sign up now!

We are with you, and I look forward to healthy days as we support one another by following healthy hygiene protocols like good hand washing and following all shelter-in-place guidelines. Thank you for all you are doing to support your families, neighbors, and loved ones. We’re in your corner during this difficult time.

In solidarity,

Chandra AlexandreChief Executive Officer

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