The Impact of Charitable Giving
By Richard DuPertuis
Story and Photos by Richard DuPertuis
NOVEMBER IS THE MONTH of Thanksgiving, the month we observe gratitude in our lives. For most of us, this may involve a little effort – sitting still, reflecting, before finding we are indeed grateful for all we have, perhaps all we are.
However, for those whose lives have taken a turn from peril to promise, gratitude is here and now, shining in their eyes. Here are four such souls, who tell their stories of travail, and who give thanks to the service agencies they see as their salvation.
ONE SAFE PLACE
Friday, June 9, 2017 is a day Alison Basulto will never forget. Her husband lashed out at her again, and she knew that this time, she had to leave. She was in no way prepared financially nor emotionally, but there was no time to think about that.
“I was kind of panicked,” she says. “I had four kids with me. We had to leave abruptly. I was afraid to go home.”
She went to One SAFE Place, a Redding organization that provides legal services, safety and emotional support to intimate partners, children and seniors affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. Staff took her and her children in that day. They spent 70 days in a One SAFE Place shelter.
“You always had someone to talk to, day or night, and that was the greatest part,” Basulto recalls. “We had classes on boundaries, on healing.”
And heal she did.
“When I went in there, I felt so broken and so low,” she says. “When I left, I felt I could accomplish anything.” While still in the shelter, she returned to Shasta College to pursue a nursing career.
She left the shelter to enter transitional housing, a home where her family could live at One SAFE Place’s expense for an entire year. That term has expired, but she’s staying in the house. “I’ve taken over,” she beams. “I’m so excited.”
Basulto believes there was no way she could have left her abusive husband without One SAFE Place. “No way!” she exclaims. “I am so grateful to all the advocates who could look at me and see I was having such a hard time. Thank you for saving my children and giving me a better life.”
NORTHERN VALLEY CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICE
Misty Head was 18 when her parents tossed her out of the house, an act that forced her to learn about life quickly. “I became homeless,” she says. “I was couch surfing, which is not as bad as it sounds.”
She eventually moved into a low-income apartment, where she now lives with her fiance, Doug, and their 1-year-old daughter, Abigail. As a new mother, Head sought out assistance from social service agencies in Redding. Then she discovered the Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood (TAPP) program offered by Northern Valley Catholic Social Service.
“The other programs were limited,” she explains. “One is for the baby, one for moms. TAPP will help me with everything. They will take you to the doctor, or to the grocery store. It really helps low-income people.” She also receives clothing and various baby needs that were donated to the program.
Her worker even came to her home and helped her set it up. “I had no idea how to arrange for all this,” she says. “My old bedroom was as big as this living room. I didn’t know how to live in a one-bedroom apartment.”
Head has also benefitted from advice she’s received from the program. “It makes parents more aware. It helps me to be not only a better mom, but a better fiancé and a better housekeeper.”
She says since she’s not struggling to survive, she’s planning to go back to school, maybe get training for working with children or the elderly.
“I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without TAPP,” she says. “They help you achieve good things. They’re just going to improve you.”
GOOD NEWS RESCUE MISSION
When Diniel Jaramillo became homeless in Redding, she carefully selected a place to shelter where she could see the Good News Rescue Mission. From her bedding beneath an overhang scarcely a block away, she struggled for a month to gather the courage to enter the program there, which she knew would be the best chance of her ever getting her children back.
“But I wasn’t ready to quit drinking,” she says. “I wasn’t ready to surrender. I wasn’t humble enough to sleep on the floor with other homeless people. I thought I was better than that.”
She found strength in one particular feature on the Mission building. “I could see the cross lit up at night,” she recalls. “I have a strong faith, and that meant there was hope for me.”
She needed that hope. It had all happened so fast. In September two years ago, she was driving to the Bay Area, desperate to collect on a loan she made, money she needed for motel rent. Then she and her four children, with other adults, took a road trip, passed around alcohol and got pulled over.
“I was charged with child endangerment,” she says. “I sat in jail for six days in Colusa County. Shasta County contacted me while I was in jail. They told me my kids were being fostered out.”
They also told her about the program at Good News Rescue Mission. After she worked up the nerve to enroll, she entered a two-week pre-program, where staff assessed her abilities and her needs. Then came the program, an 18-month residential, Christ-centered recovery program.
This included boundary class, counseling, mindfulness and the Genesis process. “That’s where you get to the root of the problem,” she says. “You learn that alcohol is not the solution. Honesty is the solution. Jesus is the solution.”
The world began to open up for Jaramillo. In January, she landed a job at a convalescence center. In May, she graduated the residence early to move into a house, a rental arranged by staff at the Mission. They also surprised her with an extra gift. “They handed me a car,” she says, eyes shining.
Today, Jaramillo still lives in that house, with her three remaining minor children. Today, she’s 20 months clean and sober. Today, she says she feels grateful, blessed and wants to give back in kind.
“I’m praying that I will be able to go back and work there,” she says. “I want to be the guest services manager, if it be God’s will.”
Throughout grade school, up until sixth grade, Christian Baker had serious problems with trust. He didn’t trust staff. He had no patience with people. He became bored doing the same thing, over and over again, day after day, with no relief in sight.
“You could say I’ve made a few wrong choices,” says Baker, now a high school freshman at Redding’s PACE Academy, which he once called a reform school. But in sixth grade, the troubled young man found something that made life worthwhile: Horses.
He was approached by members he knew from Elevate Camps, a Christian organization dedicated to providing affordable summer camp for churches. They told him about Exodus Farms.
“They said, ‘Do you want to learn about horses?’” he recounts. “I’m a city boy, and horses seemed like a mythical creature to me. It was the first time I’d ever seen a horse.”
He attended a one-week horse camp, then settled in with weekly visits to Exodus Farms, where he enjoyed all aspects of an equestrian life – grooming, feeding and shoveling manure and, of course, riding.
“When you are working with something bigger and stronger than you, you learn that you have to be able to make it trust you,” he says. “You have to get the horse to trust that you won’t get it wrong, and you have to trust the horse not to throw you.”
As he learned how to get along with horses, he learned how to get along with people. He learned to trust. He learned the importance of patience. At school, his grades went up.
“Life generally became easier,” he says. “It’s just been a blessing.
I want to say ‘thank you’ to staff. They’ve helped me and changed my life immeasurably.”
Problems with authority aside, as Baker says, his newly-found esteem enabled him to take a step that would change the lives of others. “I went to the school principal with the idea to change to a charter school. A reform school is for people who don’t fit in. A charter school is for those who do.”
Last year, PACE Academy changed from a community day school to a charter school. Administration says Baker’s was the loudest voice for the change. •
One SAFE Place
2250 Benton Drive,
Redding (530) 244-0118
Northern Valley Catholic
2400 Washington Ave.,
Redding (530) 241-0552
2842 S. Market St.,
Redding (530) 242-5920
6411 Park Ridge Drive,
Anderson (530) 953-7178