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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Weller’s Homeless Story–No. 8

Regina and her husband, Steve, are both pastors of the Venice Foursquare Church and chaplains for the LAPD Homeless Task Force. Regina writes the stories of these homeless ones from Venice.

They used to use their own pension monies but then the Venice Stakeholders Association and private donations helped them along, and recently, Tami Pardee of Pardee properties started using them as one of their charitable organizations.

These stories, written by Regina, are the chaplains’ encounters with the homeless. Once again, names are fictitious.

LAPD Task Force Chaplain Regina Weller

LAPD Task Force Chaplain Regina Weller


Sharon
By Regina Weller, Chaplain LAPD Homeless Task Force

TO THE LOS ANGELES TIMES:
In response to your March 14th article regarding the recent Venice Beach cleanup, which read in part:

    “Sharon MacCarthy, 26, was folding up her tent to make way for the cleanup. She said all her property, including her dog Misty, was taken away 2½ weeks ago when she was arrested on suspicion of selling drugs.
    MacCarthy, who is seven months pregnant, said she was sleeping on the pavement with other young people thrown out by their parents until she can get into housing in Pacoima.
    “I’ve tried shelters, but they’re just nasty,” MacCarthy said. “Nobody wants to be homeless.”

I have personal knowledge of this young woman, Sharon MacCarthy and her homeless circumstances, because I interviewed her in my office on Thursday, March 12, the day before you interviewed her. A policeman brought her to us, the Venice Foursquare Chaplains. We are part of the “Homeless Task Force”, in conjunction with LAPD Beach Detail Officers, providing benevolent outreach to the disenfranchised in Venice.

The officer was concerned because Sharon is seven months pregnant, and had just come out of a two and a half month incarceration for drug sales. He asked me if I could find her housing. So Sharon and I ate a chicken lunch together and during our conversation about potential housing, she said her mother and brother were also worried about her homeless lifestyle. She said she had previously hung out in Pacoima, but was now sleeping on the Venice boardwalk for a few years. Her boyfriend, who was also living on the boardwalk, is presently in jail.

I hunted online for permanent housing as Sharon selected items from a box of toiletries. After two hours, I found a beautiful home for pregnant women in Orange County that offered Sharon her own room. I took a woman there before.

It’s a top notch place for pregnant women that offers medical, a private room, parenting classes, and one can stay up to 2 1/2 years if one wants to go to school or work. They also provide child day care, and the women can upscale into the one-bedroom apartments that are also available on site. The facility also has its own resident psychologist and the hospital is just a block away.

A caseworker and a supervisor interviewed Sharon by phone, and she was approved. I was so happy for her and was getting ready to drive her to Orange County, but Sharon appeared angry. That’s when she told me she didn’t want to go, but wanted to remain with her friends on the Venice streets. “I’m not ready”, Sharon said, “I wanta hang out with my friends.”

I tried to convince this vulnerable woman standing before me that it would not be a good thing for her to go into labor on the street, that it would be best to be in a safer and more sanitary environment for her and her child. I also informed her that Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) sometimes intervenes when one is homeless at the time of delivery.

“No, I wanta go hang out with Star,” she said. (Star is another pregnant women who is almost full term and living in the same encampment, who many have approached to assist, but refuses to go into a women’s home).

I was sad for Sharon – resistant for help and denying the offer of care that would affect her life and her baby in such a positive way. It pains us especially to see a pregnant woman out there when we know there are other avenues available. But we can’t force any one; we can just gently come along side and let them know we are here when they are ready to leave the streets. She came so close to betterment, but I have to respect her choice. Some complain about the shelters, because they don’t want to answer to any authority or rules in the shelter. But, nothing is nastier than those streets. Nobody wants to be homeless?

I’m so sorry, but Sharon MacCarthy does…

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