■ Debbie Vena / Reporter
On a beautiful Saturday morning in San Jacinto, sounds of music emanated throughout Patio Plaza and the parking lot where booths were set up and waiting. Stations for Hope, a fundraising event and day of hope for the valley’s homeless, was about to begin. Booths were set up to distribute food, clothing, educational materials, and more.
In the shade of the buildings sat a woman named Dot, bopping to the beat, just as happy as could be, engaged in some people-watching. Dancing in her seat next to her backpack, she welcomed conversation and her story began to unfold. Dot, short for Dorothy, is 62 and waiting for her Social Security income to start so she can hopefully stop living under the palm trees and avoiding people in general, just trying to stay safe. She’s homeless.
Dot’s partner in life recently abandoned their marriage – he is somewhere in the valley but she hasn’t a clue where he is staying or with whom. She said they had been together for 17 years, have endured a lot of hardships together, and fears he may have turned back to using drugs. She feels he is too “institutionalized” to stay clean; he was locked up when he was younger before they met and she feels he craves the structure of lock-up and does not do well with the stress of the economic issues they have been dealing with lately.
If she tries to connect with him, he tells her she is better off without him.
“Until he gets the demons worked out for himself, he is not a nice person. It won’t work and the marriage has to end,” said Dot. She has been clean for more than a decade, almost two, but found out recently she has a bench warrant from years before that she still needs to deal with – a warrant because she did not attend rehab before she had moved to Arizona.
She is not sure how to get through the court papers because she said Valley Restart turned her away. There is no counseling available to her to find out where she needs to go or how to get there because she has no transportation. She barely knows how to use her phone and said she wishes there were still coin operated phones, because she knows nothing about computers or how to look up information online.
“Jesus Christ is going to come back and save humanity. I have to believe that or I would have killed myself years ago,” said Dot. “No water for me to get at easily, no outlets to charge my phone, no pay phones, no loitering. I just keep to myself and go to sleep as soon as it is dark, staying away from people as much as possible. Just trying to stay safe is my most important thing, out here on the streets. All my friends are gone, my marriage is gone, and our friends…they want to stay away from you like it is contagious.”
Dot kept dancing in her seat as she was talking, thanking God for her health and the strength to get through the next two months till her social security starts. Then she brightened up, and said, “There he is, the guy from the park who told me to come here today.”
She was excitedly pointing at the back of a man wearing a plaid shirt across the parking lot. “I think his name is Tim,” said Dot. “It isn’t much, but it is enough. Every bit helps.”
Catching up with Tim Kubo was no easy task; after saying goodbye to Dot I went to find him; he was already gone. Apparently he was giving rides to people, bringing them to the event. He was also monitoring the health of his own daughter, who was hospitalized, so he was a bit distracted but still committed to the cause.
“A big thank you to everyone who volunteered today at the Stations of Hope event,” posted Kubo on Facebook. “Together we helped more than 15 less fortunate people.”
“It all started with a Lions Club event one day,” said Kubo. “I was riding back in a van from a district club training event with club president Phil Burch, next year’s incoming president Brian Flannigan, and Camille, zone chair, and we talked about giving something back to the community after learning Valley Restart is underfunded.”
Event sponsors include Lions Club International, San Jacinto Chamber, Patio Plaza, Valley Restart, AMR, Hemet Adult School, Flacc, San Jacinto Barber Shop, Sweets Corner and VFW.
While those involved in Stations of Hope did not see her hidden away in the patio, it was a happy day of dancing for Dot, who felt safe amongst a group of strangers entertained by DJ Gibby, who was scratching out tunes on the corner at Patio Plaza.