Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa (CCDSR) serves and advocates for the most vulnerable people of all cultures and beliefs, prioritizing people experiencing poverty. CCDSR serves both urban and rural populations in Sonoma, Lake, Napa and Mendocino counties. One of the many programs provided is CalFresh benefit outreach, application assistance, and enrollment. A team of bilingual Service Navigators provide mobile services to clients who don’t have the access to come to the county offices of Human Services, who desperately need support to come to them. This success story features Lake County, a rural and extremely low-income county without many resources. Behavioral Health of Lake County manages the Big Oak Peer Support Center in Clearlake Oaks. CCDSR CalFresh Outreach has partnered with Big Oak for the last two years, assisting the unhoused and unemployed with CalFresh and Medi-Cal application assistance.
The Behavioral Health of Lake County manager created a team of providers to join him in a new Mobile Outreach project to find unhoused people who need assistance in Lake County. Most of the unhoused are unaware of the resources available. In late June 2022, CFO staff joined the Outreach van, with additional providers joining to find additional unhoused populations in need of support. The Outreach van travels to locations where only the unhoused would be and is committed to showing up weekly so they know to expect and for the team to bring food, cold water, and supplies. Fortunately, Behavioral Health’s budget provides soaps, feminine hygiene products, tarps, blankets, food, and other basic needs products, and this encourages people to respond positively when they would otherwise avoid contact. With clients sharing about these services with peers in need, the outreach connections continue to increase weekly.
Service Navigators provide Medi-Cal and CalFresh Food assistance applications on the spot using tablets, referring clients to additional resources whenever possible. Each person receives COVID and Emergency Preparedness information, and is encouraged to come to the Big Oak Center for follow-up and support. Each week, new applicants and word about the support offered by CCDSR expands. This is just the beginning of a successful project to find folks who may otherwise go without food, medical coverage, or any other support. Together with this partner, CCDSR is able to offer one-stop services to the most vulnerable individuals in Lake County.