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The Less Fortunate

by Lyra Jubb

Do you believe that your contributions are really helping the less fortunate? Do you want to know where the tax dollars and honorable contributions for the needy are really going? Have you been told that there are plenty of services, programs, and much help given to the impoverished people in your community? I asked these same questions and would like to share my experience with you.

I came to the Mendocino Coast with two kids and a husband, as has already been revealed in past posts on my blog:

We had very little money and employment was limited. My spouse and I also have mental and physical disabilities. Soon our life of strife became too difficult and we separated. I did not know anyone in my surrounding community and did not know where to go for assistance. I found myself in a relationship where the man was not as honorable as he had presented himself to be, having issues of his own. Of my own lack of knowledge, I did not make the right decisions for me and my children and was rendered homeless and alone.

Over the past two years I have been enrolled in a number of programs designed to help people learn skills of coping and living without allowing oneself to become a victim again. The housing component is very strict and limited on the Mendocino coast. After struggling for a year and a half on my own, I became willing to ask for a bed at the Hospitality House. It soon became clear that the limited space provided to homeless in my community was not enough and that the rules of the house are such that the homeless have very little opportunity to keep their bed for longer than two weeks before they are kicked to the curb and someone else takes their spot.

This environment, combined with the limited resources for mental health, has created a vacuum for those who do not fit in between the lines.

In July of 2013 I attended a meeting of the Mendocino Mental Health Board along with a group of representatives from my community. The discussion was centered around what is to be done with over $8.5 million tax dollars allotted for mental health clients in Mendocino County. There were representatives from different organizations and mental health groups from inland communities to the outstretch of the coastal community. Many of these representatives are in the business of providing mental health services for the youth and young adults of our county.

The discussion revolved around what OMG Corporation, an independent entity contracted to organize and streamline mental services to Mendocino County residents, was going to do with funds allocated to assist in providing mental health assistance for our community and the “Less Fortunate,” provided through independent contributions and our tax dollars set aside. When asked about what resources would be provided to the coastal community, several board members and the representative of OMG expressed that there were some programs which would be combined and that there would be more outreach programs provided to the youth in those outlying communities. They also were unable to define the exact dollar amount allotted to this portion of the county.

When asked what resources were going to be provided for the victims of domestic violence, a board member who used to work for Project Sanctuary proclaimed that that was not a part of the burden of the Mental Health Board. She went on to proclaim that Project Sanctuary provides the necessary aid for those who have suffered such injury. When it was further elaborated that there was very little assistance provided in my circumstance and that there is no shelter for victims of domestic violence on the coast, she replied that there is a shelter in Ukiah which such victims are directed to. She went on to say that this issue was not a mental health concern, but a matter for Child and Family Protective Services. Another board member suggested that if I had any plan to present them for this cause that I should submit them a proposal.

Being one of the members of our community who has suffered injury due to a domestic dispute, I have experienced very little in the way of help from the organizations set up in my community. The alarming thing is that there are many others who are not being assisted and the resources available are discriminating and biased to the point of causing great injury and, sometimes, death to those they are supposed to be helping.

Our community's health depends upon the health of those individuals who are in desperate need as much as those who have the ability to see to their own health. With only a mere 10% of the financial budget for mental health programs actually being received by those who it is meant for, how is this really a “hand-up” and not a “hand-out”?

In light of this discrepancy, some women have begun to join together in my community in an effort to acquire funding and support for a shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children on the coast of Mendocino County. It is not easy, when all of the financial support has been siphoned off to government agencies and service providers for the treatment of the mentally ill.

Therefore, an independent group has begun to take shape and can be sought out by those who have access to the internet. The group is called “Women Against Abuse Unite,” and this group is tenuously taking shape. It is the group's intention to acquire a board of directors who will be instrumental in creating a shelter for victims of domestic violence on the Mendocino Coast, with programs centered around self sufficiency and better decision making skills, as well as how to cope with the effects of domestic violence upon the victim as well as those who witnessed it.

If you feel passionate about helping those less fortunate than yourself and you have come to a realization that there is still not enough support out there for those who need it, I beseech you to seek out the truth for yourself and, if you are so moved, join in to help victims of domestic violence recover both mentally and physically. To learn more about what this private group of women is doing, please visit us on our Facebook page: “Women Against Abuse Unite.” We welcome contributors and victims alike. I can not do it alone, but WE can make a difference together.

There is no excuse for abuse — physical, mental, emotional, or economical. If you do not want to help victims of domestic violence specifically, there are plenty of opportunities for you to volunteer in your community to give a helping hand up to those of us suffering in economic strife.

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