HOT Team volunteers have met with over 180 businesses
■ Gena Estrin and Dennis Fletcher / Contributed
Last week the leaders of Hemet’s Homeless Outreach Team were hosted at Brooke Terrace Apts. in Hemet by one of the organization’s founders, Stacie Olson to chart their progress.
Hemet Mayor Pro-Tem Karlee Meyer announced that Hemet’s two HOT teams, (Eastside Team led by Cindy Boeing, Dennis Fletcher and Adam McQueen, and the Westside team led by Shannon Byrd) have visited 182 businesses out of the over 900 total businesses along Florida Avenue that have been targeted.
The volunteers are educating business owner and store supervisors about the city’s trespass laws and Hemet’s plans to discourage citizens from giving money to panhandlers as well as helping the homeless get off the streets.
Volunteers are already planning follow-up visits to the businesses contacted to assure that information provided was well understood. Stacie Olson announced that more HOT teams are planned to help reach the rest of the businesses that have not been contacted.
Olson, also the founder of Project Hope II (www.facebook.com/projecthopeministry) told us the story about an unknown homeless woman who was dying in Hemet Hospital. Olson was able to identify the person with a single phone call to one of the homeless people she knew. The homeless person that Stacie contacted used the tight-knit communication network of the homeless in the San Jacinto Valley to properly identify the Jane Doe in the hospital and gave Stacie information about the woman’s family. Olson contacted the family in time for them to say goodbye before she died. Olson said, “We were able to have the family authorize the use of the woman’s organs for transplants into two other people.”
At the meeting, Mayor Pro-Tem Meyer announced that the HOT team concept is spreading. There are now HOT Teams in Temecula and Oceanside that are staffed by members of their police departments, while the original one in Hemet founded by Meyer and Olson is run entirely by volunteers.
To find out how to volunteer for Hemet’s Homeless Outreach Team, search on Facebook for Homeless Outreach Team Volunteers or Project Hope II/Hemet.