Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Old Guard Board of Safe Ground jumps in and re-organizes Pilgramage

As was expected five months ago, the Safe Ground Board of Directors have now butted in to the business of the sole successful program of the Safe Ground charity and have reorganized it into a top-down hierarchy enterprise that matches the military-management style of General Libby Fernandez, the Board member leading the change of operations. Orders and information go DOWN the hierarchy; nothing comes up.

Safe Ground logo
This “sole successful program” is Pilgrimage which, akin to Winter Sanctuary, uses the floor space of churches as sleeping space for homeless people, thus giving them shelter and sanctuary and a break from having to sleep rough outdoors. Homeless people making use of Pilgrimage for a night get an evening meal and morning breakfast, too, provided by members of the church where they’re staying. Other things are done, as well, to make the overnight stay for the homeless folk as secure and agreeable as possible.

One big advantage homeless people have by overnighting at Pilgrimage as opposed to Winter Sanctuary [aka, Overflow] is that there is no bus ride ordeal. Homeless people can just show up at the church where the sleep event is being held and leave in the morning. Of course, this is most convenient for homeless people who stay in the vicinity of downtown, near to the churches that participate in the Pilgrimage program. Too, it can be convenient for homeless folk who have a county transit pass or can easily enough fork over the money for a transit ride there and back again.

You can view the current month’s schedule of overnights at the Pilgrimage page at the Safe Ground website. Below the calendar, there is a list of the churches involved in the program, which currently number seven.

The duties and responsibilities of staff and volunteers for Pilgrimage have been scrambled as a result of the management changes. One volunteer, who I’ll call “E”, acted as overnight security and had won high praise for working well with the churches to avert problems, was dismissed.

....Safe Ground's current line-up of
....Board of Directors, as displayed the SG webspace.
A reason for the dismissal, according to one fellow I talked to, had to do with a tense relationship E has with Ms. Fernandez. At one point, over a year ago, this hard-working Pilgrimage volunteer was in a dispute with two fellows who were at Loaves & Fishes much of the time. One of those fellows was an employee of Loaves & Fishes. The other guy is a gambler who likely holds the current record for longest continual use of Sacramento homeless services (thus to spend his disability income on pleasures instead of living expenses). A very unkind text message E sent was an important element in the dispute. In the aftermath of the dispute, E was barred from using Loaves & Fishes’ services or being on L&F property, including Friendship Park.

Funny thing is E and Ms. Fernandez were once good friends who would talk in Friendship Park and have bullshit conversations ragging on homeless people. Another funny thing is that the guys that E had a dispute with have long been fully amenable to E returning to a circumstance of him having full access to Loaves & Fishes. For them, the year-plus-ago dispute has been forgiven and forgotten. However, for E to be fully welcomed back, he would have to formally ask the Friendship Park director, Garren, to be re-admitted, but E, having a pride thing going, has been unwilling to humble himself such to ask to regain full use of L&F's services. [This is typical homeless guy thinking: Pride and getting respect are overmuch prized, to the detriment of one's well-being.]

Recently, the L&F employee of the two guys who had been in a dispute with E, quit his job at Loaves & Fishes without giving notice and disappeared, leaving Homeless World, altogether (or so I've come to understand).

A lot of this is further fallout from the quick dismissal of Steve Watters as Director of Safe Ground in late April. Watters was beloved (and remains highly respected) by many of the Pilgrimagists, but is the polar opposite of what the current Safe Ground Board of Directors sees as a proper leader, which for them means he/she must, foremost, have keen donations-grabbing skills and greatly enjoy the hunt for dollars -- much like Libby Fernandez who, as Executive Director at Loaves & Fishes, has keen mercenary skills in her prime role as huckster for L&F.

See prior Sacramento Homeless blog posts about Safe Ground:


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