Like many of you, I have enjoyed reading all the submissions of why we love Chico. I too love Chico. I have lived here 35 years, and although it has evolved, the kindness and beauty remain.
I would like to share with you a hidden treasure, a group of professionals in our community who work under the name Point of Contact. Their goal is to assist the homeless, one person at a time, to a better life. I know this is so because they helped my daughter. My daughter attended Chico schools 1st-12th grade and graduated from Pleasant Valley High, with top 2% math SAT scores. She earned her accounting degree at Chico State. She served our country on the USS Peleliu during the war in Iraq.
But even with all of these efforts and accomplishments, she found herself homeless. The mental illness that didn’t show up until adulthood, eventually caused her to misread her world, and cursed her with the mistrust of family members, who love her. All we could do was watch her suffer.
Because she is a veteran, the VA office tried to get her into housing, starting with a motel, but while on the streets her California ID card and phone were stolen, and motels will not rent to you without an ID. She couldn’t get an ID card because she had no physical address. She needed to get back on her medication, but without a phone she couldn’t get an appointment with the over-burdened Butte County Mental Health Department.
Along came the wonderful folks at Point of Contact, who befriended her. They knew to contact our State Senator Nielsen, who, because she was under difficult circumstances, helped my daughter get her ID. Point of Contact had a connection that helped her set an appointment with Butte County Mental Health, where she could get the prescription for the medication she needed. The people at Point of Contact looked out for her and encouraged her. They were her friends.
Point of Contact was the missing link, the ones who knew where to go for the ID card, for the psychiatrist appointment, and when she became suicidal, they knew to give her location to the Chico Police Department Target Team night shift so they could do a well check on her. The CPD Target Team were also helpful and kind to her, but they needed the direction that Point of Contact provided.
In addition to helping her, the people at Point of Contact called me and let me know that they had communicated with my daughter. If I had a concern, the CPD Target Team would also return my calls. A few caring neighbors living in the vicinity where she camped reached out and called me as well. It’s a helpless feeling, not knowing if your child living on the streets is safe, and it was such a comfort to know that in addition to dangerous folks, there were gentle people who were looking out for her too. The Veterans’ Administration was also a big part of this success story. They offered a Military Diversion Program to deserving veterans.
Through a series of events my daughter, after being homeless for three years, heard about and applied to the Military Diversion Program. Point of Contact saw what a good fit this would be and knew to contact Congressman LaMalfa’s office, who made sure my daughter was admitted.
My daughter needed a ride to the diversion program, located in Sacramento. Again, a dear person at Point of Contact offered and provided her a ride. Her journey is not yet over, but my daughter is safe, off Chico’s streets, getting the care she needs, and headed for a better life. Now that she has her California Identification Card, the Veteran’s Administration has plans to assist with housing, when she finishes the diversion program.
Life at times seems like the roll of a dice, most of us will be successfully employed, but some of us will be evicted, most of us will be mentally stable but some will unfortunately struggle with mental illness. What if it was you? In the midst of such chaos, imagine for a moment being homeless, no ID or phone, unable to trust family, and misreading the help provided by the homeless shelters.
Suddenly there is a smiling face. A kind person reaches out, earns your trust, and knows how to talk to you and how to assist you in big constructive ways. These are the warm-hearted people at Point of Contact, who actively follow the Golden Rule in our community and help to keep all of us a little safer.
I am so grateful to the folks at Point of Contact. They are Chico’s hidden treasure, who help to make our community a kinder and a more beautiful place to live. Now you know of this hidden treasure too.