Déjà vu

The community helped the Torres Shelter eight years ago and must do so again

News this week that the Torres Community Shelter is struggling financially brought me back to December 2008, a full year into the Great Recession. Times were tight for almost everyone I knew back then, myself included. Many people’s investments had plummeted or evaporated, some folks chose to walk away from homes that no longer held their value, and others still lost their jobs and had no choice but to become homeless.

Some ended up seeking refuge at the Torres Shelter, which serves men, women and children seven days a week.

I count myself among the lucky ones. My CN&R colleagues and I took a temporary cut in pay to ride out the worst of the storm, but nobody, at least not in my department, was laid off. Reporters at many other publications were not so fortunate; newsrooms around the country were gutted during what was officially a 19-month recession, though the effects have lasted much longer. Most newspapers will never be the same. Journalism will never be the same.

Our communities have changed a lot, too. Locally, we are seeing more homeless people on the streets, meaning the demand for services has never been greater. Back in ’08, according to our reporting at the time, the Torres shelter welcomed in between 70 and 80 guests nightly. These days, more than 100 people lay their heads there each evening (see Ernesto Rivera’s report on page 11).

Right now, the shelter has enough money to continue its operations through the next month or two. However, it needs the community’s support to be sustainable indefinitely. That means getting an infusion of cash soon and a steady stream of monthly donations.

Back in 2008, an anonymous donor put up tens of thousands of dollars in matching funds during a fundraising drive. I hope another generous person steps forward this time around. But I also hope that many people come forward and pledge to make a regular contribution to this worthy nonprofit.

In related news, CN&R’s toiletries drive was quite successful thanks to our readers. Hundreds and hundreds of products—from shampoo and toothbrushes to feminine products and lotions—were dropped off during the holidays (see page 24 for photo). Last year, the Torres shelter, Esplanade House and Jesus Center were the recipients of the community’s generosity. This year, we’ve chosen Stairways Programming and the 6th Street Center for Youth.

Thank you to everyone who emptied their bathroom cabinets of unused products and also to those who, like my lovely neighbors, cleaned out the shelves at Target.

On a less bright note, CN&R’s staff was reminded of the importance of fact-checking this week. We rarely need to run corrections but had no fewer than three errors in the past two issues. All of them came from eagle-eyed readers, including Rep. Doug LaMalfa. See our letters page to check out our screw-ups. Our apologies for the mistakes. We thank the folks who wrote in not only for correcting the record but also for being regular readers of this (on most weeks) damn fine publication.