I’d been trying to help “Bill,” a homeless client, get dentures for over a year. He’d had them in the past, but he lives on the streets. One night he’d taken them out to sleep, and awakened the next morning to find them and other belongings gone. Since then, he hadn’t been able to eat well, since he had no teeth at all. I tried calling Medi-cal to advocate for “Bill” and explain his situation, but the agency’s rules and regulations barred them from helping. Finally, I became aware that a local dental practice, La Canada Smiles Dentistry, offered pro bono services. Although I wasn’t sure of the extent of services they were able to offer, I went ahead and booked “Bill” for a Saturday morning appointment. I reminded him it was very important that he show up, since this was a private practice offering no-cost services. I needn’t have worried. On Saturday morning, “Bill” arrived at the dental practice at 7:30 a.m. -- two hours early -- and waited patiently to be seen for his scheduled 9:30 appointment. He left the office having been fitted for full dentures. The next Monday afternoon during our food distribution, “Bill” visited my office to thank me profusely. He told me he felt like crying because he would finally be able to eat again – and happily confided that the first thing he planned to enjoy was a steak.
When Baldwin Park police observed an 85-year-old woman sleeping in her car, they reached out to her and learned she’d lost her home within the past year. BPP located a motel in Baldwin Park willing to house her at no cost for two weeks. On a Wednesday, as her stay was ending, Officers Cynthia Espinoza and David Leon brought her to us for immediate assistance. I gave her a motel voucher good through Friday, and one of the officers paid out of pocket to extend the stay through Monday morning. Before checkout time at 11 a.m. Monday, I had found her a room for rent. She moved in at 9:30 a.m. with a senior couple and another client I had previously housed in the home. The couple who own the residence had come to us for assistance a year ago, fearing the loss of their home and hoping to offer rooms for rent. Now all rooms in the lovely, large Monrovia home are filled with seniors, and the property is no longer at risk. The 85-year-old woman is on a short waiting list for senior apartments while staying in her new home.
Recently a Pasadena family reached out to us, referred by the Red Cross. They had just lost all their belongings in a fire at their home. While thankfully nobody was hurt, the single mother and her college age daughter were clearly suffering from extreme trauma. Fortunately, they had been moved to another apartment in the same building while the cause of the fire was being investigated, avoiding the need to find immediate shelter. The mother asked for our help in purchasing two mattresses for herself and her daughter to use in the empty apartment. I submitted a grant request to our agency for the cost and began working with a furniture store to arrange the purchase and delivery date and time. It’s hard to put into words the mixture of trauma and gratitude I saw in the mother’s eyes as we were working with her. It feels really good to know our team could be there for her family.