Feb 12, 2020
Many nights I wandered around the streets of Santa Rosa seeking a warm, dry and safe place to sleep. On occasion I slept near or in the tents of vulnerable women who asked me to stay with them for companionship and protection.
When I was unlawfully evicted during the Tubbs fire, I stayed in the Red Cross shelter at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, along with people who had lost their homes or had health complications from the toxic smoke. During this time, I lost a job, my car was borrowed by an acquaintance then abandoned and eventually towed and destroyed before I could locate and retrieve it.
I was critically ill and medical facilities had difficulty determining what was causing the swelling and sores on my legs, along with vertigo and an inability to stand, walk or eat. It took two years and multiple hospitalizations for doctors to find the CVST blood clot that was blocking blood flow out of my brain through my left internal jugular.
In the meantime, a known wanna-be street thug weaseled his way into my car and my FEMA hotel room. He exploited my weakness and over a period of three months managed to divest me of money, multiple cell phones and computers, and took over the storage unit I had rented to move my belongings from my previous rental of 7 years.
When I first became homeless after an unlawful eviction during the 2017 Tubbs Fire, I was unaware that there homeless folks in Healdsburg, and it took me nearly a year of sleeping outside in Santa Rosa and in hospitals before I discovered Reach for Home and the services they provide. That is how invisible this population is in our town.. I just thought there were a high number of unique individuals (which there are!).
I was shown where to camp along the East bank of the river, north of the railroad bridge, by experienced campers, who had to “vet” me to determine if I could occupy on of the campsites that had been carved in the reeds.
This turned out to be dangerous for multiple reasons, including flooding, vandalism, violence, drug and alcohol use by outsiders as well as campers, and the mere fact that I was a woman sleeping alone, sometimes without even a tent.
When God blessed me with an “unadoptable” dog, I became instantly less of a target, and was provided unconditional love and emotional support, along with protection. Freezing in our tent on the banks of the Russian River in Healdsburg, my rescue dog, Rambeaux and I huddled together in an attempt at warmth. Many days I was unable to walk into town for food and had to rely on friends, fellow campers and Rick Caferata of Reach for Home for assistance.
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