From the HHN website: Chris Rockwell, Helping the Homeless Now founder and executive director, owns a household appliance sales and repair business in Idyllwild. Late in 2009, Rockwell abruptly did something he’d been waiting for someone else to do for a long time: He bought a homeless man a meal. He asked the man where there were more homeless, hungry people.
The grateful man gladly showed him some of the makeshift shelters along Interstate 10, and introduced him to the people who live in them. Rockwell arranged to meet some of them again the next week, and again the week after that — and Helping the Homeless Now was born. With no agenda other than promoting the survival of the neediest Coachella Valley homeless population, HHN has grown to an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) public charity with a Board of Directors comprising six professionals who donate all their services: President Beverly Johnson, Treasurer Chris Finney, Secretary Teresa Pasquan and members Barbara Cayer, Rhonda Rockwell, Shela Boynton and Sheila Hatch.
By Chris Rockwell
Helping the Homeless Now Executive Director
Even though the howling wind was blowing sand to the point of poor visibility in the desert [Saturday], there were many homeless waiting at our main stop. When the wind blows like this, sand gets in everything — eyes, hair, backpacks, purses, tents and sleeping bags. It’s a privilege to be able to bring even a little relief from these difficult conditions with the help of wonderful donors.
There are many in the congregation at the Shepherd of the Valley United Methodist Church in Indio who have been helping us provide things to the homeless for some time now. After an inspiring service fair at the church a few weeks ago, a group wanted to help us by making peanut and jelly sandwiches and cookies. So this group organized and made sandwiches — 200 of them — and froze them in freezers in the homes of the makers in various parts of Indio.
We had planned to distribute these sandwiches as needed, but because some people are leaving for the summer, we needed to distribute all the sandwiches [Saturday]. We gave our homeless friends sandwiches, but there were many left over. With helper Myrna’s assistance, the rest of the sandwiches were delivered to a group of needy people in a trailer park in Indio that were very glad to have them. It worked out great, and we are very thankful to Shepherd of the Valley group for the sandwiches and cookies and all the help they’ve given us.
With thanks again to Evan of Big Wheel Tours in Palm Desert, Daren and Tammy won the drawing and now have bicycles. When someone wins a bike like this it’s not uncommon to see tears of joy. Bikes are a big deal to a homeless person in many ways and these are good-quality bikes. Daren was one of the happiest winners I’ve seen yet. What a great thing to be a part of.
Last Wednesday, German (pronounced Herman), Myrna, Juan and I spent the school day at Xavier Prep. This was part of a Break Out session the school does periodically and that teacher Mary invited us to be a part of. In several classrooms a different topic is discussed and the students go from room to room to hear each topic.
In Mary’s class the topic was immigration. It was very interesting to hear what it’s like getting into this country as well as what happens once a person gets here. Juan has lived and worked here since the 1980s. He has obvious rheumatoid arthritis in both his hands and can’t work anymore. Juan is receiving benefits here that wouldn’t be available to him in Mexico and isn’t sure what would have happened to him if he were still there. The school provided lunch for all the speakers and gave us many boxes of canned food for the homeless. It was a good day.
If anyone would like to volunteer or provide something for the homeless please contact me at [email protected] and I’ll pass your request on to Lori, our volunteer coordinator. This will allow us to schedule events so we don’t have any duplications or conflicts.
Visit www.helpingthehomelessnow.com/index.html for more information.