Picnic In The Park With Some Homeless Folks – July 30, 2015

This article from the Press Banner is the best ever about this particular topic, which was an issue that concerned Felton League back in the summer of 2015. The main text is pasted below, but without the excellent picture or the interesting comments. The chronology of the comments can be difficult to follow, but each comment is outfitted with the date and time at which it was posted. Of course, some of the comments were deleted.

July 30, 2015 – Press Banner – Suellene Petersen

It would have been nice if a table had been available for the food, but Jonney Hughes explained that the maintenance people from the Santa Cruz County Department of Parks had removed the one that used to be in that spot.

“They said they were going to fix the table and bring it back, but we could not see that anything was wrong with it,” explained Hughes.

The picnic was spread on a cement area under the trees and the hosts sat in canvas folding chairs around a spread of sandwiches, salads, fruit and desserts. “Those of us who can, pool our money and food so we can share with others,” said Hughes.

Asked what it was like to be homeless, Teresa Fitzpatrick said “I am not homeless and not all of us are. Some of us have jobs, but don’t earn much –– not enough for rent and food,” said Fitzpatrick. “We all have different stories. Some of us are retired and get social security but it’s not enough for everything so we get stuck in this wilderness,” she said.

“We are people who have raised families. We are good people who have fallen on hard times. It happens,” said Fitzpatrick. “The picnic table that used to be here was like a social center where we met to eat, sew, and visit,” said Hughes. She said “we have even held memorial services here for friends who have passed away.”

The New Life Church in Santa Cruz provides some help to these folks. Richard Franconi distributes food to people that has been donated by the New Life Church. He walks around the park and hands out burritos. He said “I have been doing this for 15 years. I used to give about 30 and now it is only about 10.” He gives the food to hungry people even if they are not homeless.

The people at the picnic were all wearing neat, clean clothes. Lise Lafontaine said that she was one of the homeless. She is a licensed hair stylist who cannot find work. “I cut hair for these people for free,” she said as she gestured at the circled of people. “I never thought that I would become homeless because I am a professional haircutter,” said Lafontaine. “Sometimes we get to shower at the Presbyterian Church,” she said. Otherwise, they have no access to water in order to stay clean.

They told their stories and when it was time for lunch, the circle of people bowed their heads while Hughes led the group in a thank you prayer. Lunch was good. It would have been nicer if the picnic table had been there.

The good news is that Alan Galran from Santa Cruz County Department of Parks said that the table will be replaced within two weeks.