Think about your home, and take mental inventory of everything in it. Remove all the appliances and furniture, and youre left with stuff—items that you need and items that youve accumulated over time. OK, imagine that you lost your home and dont have money to buy or rent a new one, and think about all the stuff you couldnt survive without. Now youre left with the basics—clothing, shoes, a warm coat, blankets or a sleeping bag, a pillow and pillow cases, a towel or two, personal-hygiene items and medication, important documents, maybe a fork and a spoon and maybe a few books, plus photos, keepsakes and mementos that will keep you connected to people and times in your life that you dont want to forget.
Where would you keep that stuff if you didnt have a home or the money to pay for a secure storage unit? Youd do what thousands of people do every day in San Diego—youd grab yourself a shopping cart or find a large suitcase on wheels, and youd wheel that stuff around with you as you travel to your next meal, wherever youve found shelter, wherever youre going to pass the time and your next appointment with a service provider or, if youre lucky, a prospective employer.
Now, think about how much easier it would be to get back on track if you didnt have to push that cart or drag that big suitcase around with you all day, and didnt have to worry about someone stealing it when you fell asleep at night. Imagine the peace of mind that youd have if you knew that it was secure and waiting for you the next time you need to get something or change your clothes.
In February 2011, as part of a settlement stemming from a case in which the city of San Diego illegally took and destroyed the belongings of a number of homeless folks, The Water Man Check-In Center was established, named after David The Water Man Ross, who for years has been handing out bottles of water to people on the street and advocating for enhanced services for the homeless. Modeled on a successful program in Los Angeles, its housed in a building on Ninth Avenue, Downtown, and holds roughly 360 storage bins for people without homes to store their stuff. It was operated by Ross and another man, Gerry Limpic, until a nonprofit called Girls Think Tank took over this past April. They run the center now with the help of volunteers and a couple of part-time employees. Its open six days a week.
Its been hard enough to raise enough money to keep the center operating—the citys initial funding has run out, and earlier this year, the City Council came up with just enough cash to sustain the center until the 2012 fiscal year ended on June 30. But, now, the center itself is in danger of becoming homeless; the lease on the city-owned building is up and wont be renewed because its slated to be demolished in November.
The Girls Think Tank needs help. They need help with a new location, and they need continued funding for administration and operation, costs theyre currently covering via their own fundraising efforts.
Kris Michell, executive director of the Downtown San Diego Partnership (DSDP), a high-powered advocacy organization for Downtown businesses, told CityBeat on Tuesday that Ryan Loofbourrow, who runs DSDPs Clean & Safe Program, is trying to help identify potential sites.
Thats great. The Downtown Partnership has done a nice job of helping to get 100 or so homeless people into supportive housing. It does so because its in the best economic interest of Downtown businesses to get people off the sidewalks. Well, the same is true for peoples stuff. We urge those businesses to contribute even just a small amount of money to Girls Think Tank (girlsthinktank.org) each month or each quarter to help keep the center running.
In fact, we urge anyone who has the luxury of money to donate to the cause. If you need inspiration, just go back and think about your stuff, and how crucial it would be for you to have a safe and secure place to keep it.
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