What a day in the Pacific Garden Mission is like.

I still have some other updates to share, but I believe this is important.

Let’s begin with the evening. If you are hungry you need to be there by 5:00 pm in the day room. If you aren’t there for the chapel service at 5 you aren’t permitted to eat dinner. Dinner is scheduled for 5:30 but rarely begins that early.

Next if you want to stay the night you have to be there by 8:00 pm for another chapel service that is scheduled for an hour. I’ll delve a little more into this later. But before you get there your belongings must be checked into the bag room. It’s their way of attempting to keep belongings secure, reduce the risk of theft and I think most importantly keeping weapons from the sleeping area. I have seen that it doesn’t work. After the service you are lead upstairs where mandatory showers are the first thing that occurs. Great idea, if some people didn’t just get wet and dry off. Your clothing must be put on hangers where they are put into a hotbox for the night. The purpose is to sanitize the clothing. If your clothes are anything nicer than rags you better be up early to get them back. The night that I was there I awoke at 5:00 am and my clothes were already stolen. I’ve since seen the individual that took them and while I could probably get them back he is definitely mentally unstable and in my mind not worth the potential risk.

Now time to sleep. Any personal items such as a phone or even toiletries you need to have in your pockets, underneath you, etc. if someone can get to it while you are sleeping, they will. After the noise dies down, it takes a little and from what I saw staff tries to enforce quit you’re in for a night of slumber with at least one eye half open.

Want breakfast? Be ready for chapel again at 5:45 am! It goes on until 6:30 am and once again no chapel no food.

Next is lunch. 12:00 is the magic number for chapel to eat lunch. It lasts until 12:45 pm and once again no chapel, no food.

My issues are the requirement of all the chapel services to eat. For starters it is 3 hours a day in the services which from what I saw was not at all tolerant to any other religion other than what they were preaching. Add in the time to eat, I’ll estimate at 1/2 hour per meal and you are at 4-1/2 hours a day just to eat. This is all during time when one should be looking for a job, housing, etc. Couple that with the time it would take someone to get anywhere, because very few are lucky as I am and have a vehicle it doesn’t surprise me that once someone gets into the shelter it is very difficult to get out of the situation.

This is just a normal day. The intake process can take awhile too. You have to fill out a form at the desk and then wait for an intake “counselor.” I have counselor in quotes because it is obvious they are not qualified in anyway way to counsel anyone. The first thing they have you do is sign a liability waiver. After that was done they go over your intake form. After that they pray for you. Don’t try and ask any questions on what you may want to do to start working your way out of the place. They don’t know, they are just clerks. After that you have to wait for one of their program workers to come and go over the rules with you. The one that spoke with me I could hardly understand. His speaking abilities were so filled with street slang understanding him was almost impossible.

I didn’t take me but a couple days to realize that sleeping in my truck was the best option to getting myself out of this situation in the most expedient way possible. It is also very difficult to feel safe there. While I didn’t witness any violence while I was there, the volume of violent offenders, people with obvious untreated mental issues and people just hiding from the police made it very hard. I’m not saying the shelter isn’t necessary, I just think it could be run in a way more efficient manor.

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