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Another View: Take a look at the homeless around us

Another View
By: Jim Holmes, guest columnist
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Editor’s note: Supervisor Jim Holmes is up for reelection June 5. He is facing challenger Robert Grigas of Newcastle in District 3.

During my time as a Placer County Supervisor I have done my best to connect with those who are less fortunate.
For that reason I chose to serve on three Placer County government organizations, the Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board, the Community Services Commission, and the First Five Children and Families Commission.
I also chose to serve on the boards of two non-governmental agencies, The Gathering Inn and the Salvation Army. Both provide services to our homeless population.
My involvement has also connected me with several other organizations in Placer County that provide such services, among them, The Lazarus Project, a leading nonprofit provider of housing and support services for homeless individuals; Acres of Hope, a church-based organization that provides housing and life skills training for homeless mothers and their children; and St. Vincent de Paul, another church-based organization that provides services to our less fortunate population.
The above organizations serve the homeless in a variety of ways. They provide food and overnight lodging. They provide educational, counseling, and vocational services to homeless individuals and families.
They also provide health services to keep this particular population out of hospital emergency rooms and to contain the spread of infectious disease. Their mission is proactive. They extend a hand to help those who find themselves homeless or on the verge of being homeless and they help those people transition to the next best step.
But the stigma of homelessness is often formed by the sight of the homeless person standing at an intersection with a cardboard sign or sitting on a sidewalk drinking out of a brown paper bag. We often ask ourselves: “Why do they choose that lifestyle?”
To help us understand this question, young local filmmaker and Placer High graduate, Ryan Frew, has produced the documentary, “Life is Mandatory.”
This excellent film on the plight of the homeless only tells part of the story by portraying the chronically homeless who represent 13 percent of the homeless population.
The other 87 percent are made up of women, children and men who are receiving services and moving forward during these tough economic times. All organizations providing for the homeless are overwhelmed by the need that has grown in the past few years.
This documentary will be shown at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 14 at the State Theater in Auburn.
Frew and his crew traveled to the areas in Auburn and Sacramento where the homeless hang out. He interviews those who chose to be homeless.
It is obvious that many suffer from various forms of mental illness and it is interesting to hear comments from those who just choose that lifestyle to avoid the hassles of living in a complex society.
Please join me in attending one of the showings. You may recognize some of the characters, as I did, who live on the streets in Auburn.
I am sure that it will help your understanding of the complexities surrounding the issue of homelessness.
Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes represents the Third District, which includes North Auburn, the City of Auburn, the communities of Ophir, Newcastle, Penryn, the Town of Loomis and the portion of the City of Rocklin from Pacific Street to Sierra College Boulevard.

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DOCUMENTARY SCREENINGS
What: 
“Life is Mandatory,”
documentary about the homeless made by Placer High graduate Ryan Frew
When:  5 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14
Where:  State Theater, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn
Cost:  $5 or equal value of non-perishable food
Info: (530) 889-8775, ext. 13