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Unsung Heroes: Week of May 4, 2020
Homelessness Response Team Heroes
One of the City’s missions is to enhance a safe, livable, and vibrant community for its diverse residents, while that is difficult in current times for our unhoused population, it remains an important goal. The City’s Homelessness Response Team is a prime example of continuing that mission. The Team has been on the frontlines of the City’s COVID-19 response, providing desperately needed services to some of our community’s most vulnerable people. Since March, the team has worked with the Emergency Operations Center’s (EOC) Logistics Branch to acquire facilities, equipment, supplies, and personnel to successfully stand up five shelter locations:
- Parkside Hall (75 individual / couple capacity)
- South Hall (283 individual / couple capacity)
- Camden Community Center (40 family capacity)
- Bascom Community Center (30 individual capacity)
- Trailers at Story Road (91 vulnerable at-risk individuals)
The team worked seven days a week for most of March to set up the shelter facilities, said James Stagi, who, along with Kelly Hemphill, led logistics and construction. “I feel very proud to be part of the City through this confusing and stressful time,” said Kelly. “The partnership and collaboration that has occurred as a result of this crisis has been refreshing. The Homelessness Response Team has been managing the shelters and doing such an incredible job. I am thrilled to be part of such a dedicated and compassionate group.”
Once the shelters were completed and inspected, the EOC’s Personnel and Safety Branches, in coordination with HR, the CMO, and PRNS redeployed City staff as Disaster Service Workers to safely staff these sites in coordination with HomeFirst. PRNS has taken the lead on meal distribution, and DOT has assisted with logistics management.
“Opening the shelters has provided the homeless community an opportunity to shelter in place and receive basic needs assistance in the form of reserved shelter beds, restrooms, showers, laundry, meals, connections to medical professionals, personal protective equipment, and much more,” said Kelly.
Now that’s heroic! Thank you to Kelly, James, Ragan Henninger, and all of the employees who worked tirelessly to stand up and staff these shelters, including: Steve Pendleton, Guido Grille, Shawn Packer, Roger Beaudoin, Gabriela Banks, Vanessa Beretta, Lorena Diez, Gabriel Borden, Darius Brown, and Adriana York, as well as DOT staff Peter Bennet and Arian Collen, and all of the other employees who have been involved in these projects.
Food Distribution Heroes
In mid-March, the County of Santa Clara requested that the City take the lead in coordinating all countywide food distribution to vulnerable populations and families in need. The City immediately accepted this challenging responsibility and sprang into action. Under the tremendous leadership of Angel Rios, the EOC created a Food and Necessities Branch that has been co-led by Neil Rufino from PRNS, and Dolan Beckel from the CMO. This new branch is now comprised of over 100 City employees, and has leveraged the resources of PRNS, IT, DOT, the CMO, and many private sector, non-profit, and faith-based community partners.
Angel, Neil, and Dolan have led the City’s efforts to expand upon existing programs and forge new partnerships, while coordinating with the County, the other Cities in the County to provide vital food and meals to our community and neighboring communities. The Food and Necessities Branch even figured out a way to get spring break coverage for some of our local schools, so food distribution would continue for families, and allowed school district staff to take their scheduled break. All told this team of City staff, working with a multitude of municipalities, schools, non-profit and faith-based partners are working tirelessly to ensure each and every day several thousands of meals reach those in need.
Thank you to all of our City employees who have been a part of distributing food and other necessities to our community!
City Manager Dave Sykes highlighted each of these projects during his report to the City Council on May 5. View the entire presentation on the City’s YouTube Channel.