The 2 person Malibu Homeless Outreach Team are the first responders when it comes to Malibu homeless. The 2 person team is dedicated to helping get homeless off the street and getting them connected with housing and wrap around services. The Team has been funded by many generous community members and most recently by the Malibu City Council who approved $76,000 to fund the 2 positions at The People Concern on June 26, 2017.
To date, team has helped 5 homeless Malibu residents move into permanent housing, 8 have moved into interim housing and 1 is receiving inpatient substance abuse treatment. According to the MTFH website, as of May, 51 homeless Malibu residents have now “enrolled” as clients (meaning they have consented to services, are involved in ongoing case management, and have completed a goal plan). A total of 63 individuals are now considered “engaged” with the Outreach Team.)
Nevertheless, the Outreach Team was unable to help Nicole – who was now pregnant and still living in a tent next to Pepperdine University.
On Mother’s Day, Sunday May 14, 2017, after going to Mass and Ollo’s for breakfast with my children, I thought it might be nice to wish Nicole a happy Mother’s day and to surprise her with some nice pan cakes and fruit.
As we turned into the path leading up to the area next to Pepperdine where she was camping in a tent we saw Nicole. She was pushing an empty shopping cart. Her red hair was unkempt , her skin was dirty, her clothes were ripped and he belly was bulging. I waved to her and said, “Hi Nicole. We brought you some breakfast. Happy Mother’s day!” Before I reached her, she looked down and shouted – “No. Go away.” She couldn’t look me in the eyes. My kids appeared to be afraid.
I got back in our car and drove away. My son pleaded that I stay away from her because she looked like she could harm someone or even herself, and he feared for my safety. I couldn’t help but feel sad, for both Nicole and her unborn baby. I wanted to try to help, but deep down I knew Nicole was the only one who could help both herself and the baby. I knew then, that without a miracle, Nicole and her baby could end up dead in the near future.
On Thursday June 29, 2017, I stopped by Malibu Connect day to again see if I could be of service. I ran into Nancy Rosenquist, a long-time Malibu resident, who was now happily housed in Marina Del Rey, and Carol Moss the beloved founder of CART and the Reverend Paul Elder who was still washing the feet of many homeless.
Just as the Connect event came to a close, one additional woman came to the foot washing station. I could tell that Reverend Paul Elder was exhausted from working and serving all day so I asked if I could help wash the feet of this final client. Reverend Paul Elder smiled and said – yes.
As he homeless client took off her shoes, I saw about 50 or so red boils on her feet that appeared to be red and oozing. I put on some protective gloves and covered her feet with soap and water. I asked her if her feet hurt and she said just a little and that they were much better than before. I was next to Linda Gibbs a local Point Dume mom who had been working for hours washing and massaging feet and asked her if she had any type of medicine to help. She jumped to her feet and took out tea tree oil and began to help.
Reverend Paul Elder suggested I try to speak to the doctor to see if we could get some medicine for her condition. I was able to catch the doctor as he was walking out to the parking lot and asked if he could come take a look. The kind Doctor came back and examined her feet. He then reached in his oversized back pack some anti-fungal medicine which I helped put on. Luckily, there were lots of new clean socks so she was able to put her new socks on over her medicine.
As I was cleaning up the station and speaking with Reverend Elder I asked if had heard what happened to Nicole and her baby.
I was in shock to learn that on June 4, 2017, Nicole’s water broke as she was walking along PCH near the Animal Hospital. Someone called 911 and Firestation 88 answered the call. According to first hand accounts, Nicole originally resisted getting any help and asked to be left alone – asserting her rights under the Constitution to be free.
Veteran Firefighter Gene Rink got on his knees, and looked Nicole in the eyes and explained – with all due respect this isn’t about you – it’s about doing what’s best for the baby now. By some miracle, Nicole listened to Gene and got in the ambulance. As it turned out, her baby was breached and both Nicole and her baby could have died but for the valiant efforts of Malibu Station 88 Firefighter Gene Rink. I went to directly to Firestation 88 to thank Gene in person.
I don’t know what will happen with that baby girl or Nicole, but I do know that every day I notice more and more homeless in Malibu. Indeed, the LA County Homeless count shows there is a 25% increase in LA County.
I don’t have the answers, but I do believe we are all connected.
If you want to learn what you can do, visit www.malibucart.org. You can also give homeless the Outreach Team phone number (310)460-2638 or they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.