By Rachel Coleman
Captain William Finley from the Salvation Army reported that over 600 people are expected at this year’s “One City One Meal” event to be held on Thanksgiving Day at the Ventura County Fairgrounds from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. According to Finley, “the purpose of ‘One City One Meal’ is not only to feed the homeless and needy but also to unite different people from all different walks of life by sitting down together and sharing their life experiences over a meal.” He encourages anyone interested in attending the dinner to host a table. For example, someone like a city council member, local attorney or local business
owner can help less fortunate people just by sitting down together over a meal and sharing their experiences in overcoming difficult situations and offer much needed moral support. Not to mention that these types of contacts often result in job and housing opportunities for needy people in attendance.
Finley estimates that this year’s “One City One Meal” will cost the Salvation Army $3,500 to $4,000. The group is able to keep down the costs with donations from local businesses and local residents. The Salvation Army still needs over $2,000 to meet its goal for the event this year.
In addition to the Thanksgiving meal, the Salvation Army sponsors a food pantry year round which is always in need of supplies and donations. The food pantry feeds over 400 households per month. The food pantry supplies local homeless, needy families and families living in downtown hotels with living in downtown hotels with weekly boxes of food and various items such as soap, shampoo, and diapers.
The Salvation Army supplies over 400 families each year with toys for the children at Christmas time. The Salvation Army also collects much-needed donations to support its programs through the “Christmas
Kettle” campaign. Also featured during the holidays is the “Adopt a Family Project,” which fosters long term relationships with families to provide them with specific items or assistance on a case-by-case basis. For example, a father may need a new suit in order to go on job interviews or a pair of new shoes, or an adoptee may have employment or a housing opportunity to offer an adoptive family member.
The Salvation Army also provides housing to nine families and nine single women at its facilities on Oak Street in Ventura, as well as off-site housing. Finley reports the average stay at the Oak Street facility is twelve to fourteen months. The residents are provided three meals per day made in the on-site commercial kitchen. Families are provided their own private room which includes beds, bedding and a private bathroom and shower.
Residents are required to attend two counseling groups per week. The Salvation Army provides drug and alcohol counseling, therapy, and parenting classes. Finley pioneered a new twelve-week financial planning class which provides residents information on how to make long-term financial plans and how to manage their finances. In his experience, “the main reason for homelessness is the inability of people to appropriately manage the finances that they do have available. Teaching the residents to manage their finances appropriately and encouraging the residents to save up to 50% of their adjusted income while residing at the facility will result in fewer families returning to the facilities or the streets.”
Anyone interested in making a donation to the Salvation Army, hosting a table at “One City One Meal” or serving Thanksgiving Dinner should contact Captain Finley at William.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Coleman is an associate at DK Law Group in Oxnard and a member of CITATIONS’ editorial board.