Local initiatives highlight kindness work through community policing, addressing homelessness, human rights, access to libraries, and community gardens.
Kindness in Eugene and Springfield
The Eugene Police Foundation fundraises for a small-scale community fund used by the Eugene Police Department to provide help to people in need. Examples of people in need have included victims of domestic violence who needed a place to stay for the night, homeless people who needed a pair of shoes, a man who needed a car part to leave town and another who needed a bus ticket to go home.
By providing help to citizens in need, police are able to have more positive and proactive interactions with citizens.
The fund originally relied on one-time donations from churches and citizens, which meant the funds were not consistently available. The foundation hopes to grow the fund with a steady stream of contributions. Eugene Police supervisors are able to access the fund using debit cards as needed.
To donate: Eugene Police Foundation
In late October 2018, Lane County closed down a homeless camp in downtown Eugene. The city of Eugene chipped in funding to help support a new county-owned site on Highway 99 that opened in November 2018. About 115 people are currently living in 70 tents on the 1.5 acre property, where campers have access to portable toilets and trash on site. Shower, laundry and meal services are available across the street at St. Vincent de Paul’s Lindhom Center.
According to a peer mentor at Lane Independent Living Alliance, “This is a place where (people) can stay where their belongings won’t be confiscated and they can create a sense of community.” A camp resident who was interviewed commented that she feels safer living at this new site than she felt living on the streets.
The Eugene Public Library supports an informed community. The Library promotes lifelong learning and the love of reading by providing access to all city residents to a universe of ideas and information.
White Bird offers free, confidential walk-in counseling and referral for individuals at the Downtown Eugene Public Library. This service is available Mondays through Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and on Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
In brief sessions, professional staff provide a listening ear, emotional support, information about local resources, and practical problem-solving assistance.
Eugene has six community garden sites, totaling about 15 acres, and is open to all regardless of experience, age, or ability. For nearly 40 years, these garden sites have provided participants an opportunity to steward a garden plot, grow food for their household, and build community with other gardeners. Find out how you can reserve a garden plot for next year.
Eugene’s Office of Human Rights & Neighborhood Involvement works to create an equitable, safe and welcoming community.
Eugene’s Office of Human Rights & Neighborhood Involvement provides opportunities for meaningful participation in community conversations, access to government processes and services, and by connecting people to local resources and assistance.
The City of Eugene takes a proactive approach to enhancing the City’s preparedness and educating the public.
Neighborhoods. Knowing your neighbors can give you a critical advantage during an emergency. Good community relationships can help keep your family and neighborhood safe and simplify your family communication plan. Find out how you can get to know your neighbors.
Get Prepared With Your Neighbors. You and your neighbors can help each other get prepared. Use this process with a group of friends, people from your faith community, a group of co-workers, etc.
Map Your Neighborhood is a program promoted by the city of Eugene that can help you meet your neighbors and prepare for emergencies.
Kindness in Other Cities
Better Way Anaheim, a project of Love Anaheim, offers voluntary community service projects to those who are homeless. Along with basic work experience, the project facilitates access to additional services to help end homelessness, such as referrals to housing, healthcare, social services benefits, employment. Love Anaheim works with the Anaheim Homeless Collaborative and its agencies to identify potential candidates who would benefit. Service outings take place once a week for up to five hours. Up to 10 individuals participate each week. Participants work to clean up parks, paint trash cans or fire hydrants and work on other community projects. Participants receive food and gift cards worth $60 for each day of service. Homeless Participants are selected in cooperation with the Anaheim Homeless Collaborative (AHC) and its agencies.
The Gloucester Police Department has created a revolutionary new policing program aimed at getting addicts the help they need, instead of putting them in handcuffs. If an addict comes into the Gloucester Police Department and asks for help, an officer will take them to the Addison Gilbert Hospital, where they will be paired with a volunteer “ANGEL” who will help guide them through the process. We have partnered with more than a dozen additional treatment centers to ensure that our patients receive the care and treatment they deserve — not in days or weeks, but immediately.
Police chief Chris Magnus has been reducing crime and use-of-force by his officers for years in Richmond, CA. His community policing approach includes supporting the communities’ need to gather and grieve the unjust #blacklivesmatter losses by joining them. “We get the conversation about use of force… This is an opportunity for all police departments, including ours, to look inward and examine our approaches and get better.”
Albuquerque’s “There’s a Better Way” campaign gives panhandlers an opportunity for paid work and provides members of the community with a more effective way to donate their money. The program addresses four main needs:
- Give people dignity in work
- Connect individuals with services
- Collective Impact to end panhandling
- Help the Community to understand “There’s a Better Way”
In June 2015, the City of Albuquerque posted 15 signs at various intersections were panhandlers were known to stand. The signs urged people in need of food or shelter to call the City’s 311 service. In September 2015, the City of Albuquerque found a van in the City’s motor pool, wrapped it in the “There’s a Better Way” graphics, and launched the “There’s a Better Way” van with St. Martin’s Hospitality Hope Center. The City’s Solid Waste Department drives to areas frequented by panhandlers and offers them day labor, such as landscape beautification and garbage removal. Pay for the work is $9 a hour. After their work day is complete, passengers are transported back to St. Martin’s to be connected with emergency shelter to house them overnight as needed.
Effectiveness/Outcomes: As of February, 2017, the pilot program had offered about 1,700 days of day work, connected 216 people to permanent employment opportunities. housed twenty people with their Housing First model, Heading Home, and connected over 150 people to mental health and substance abuse services. Combined with Albuquerque Heading Home, the Better Way program reduced unsheltered homelessness by 80 percent in 2016. Many communities throughout the US have adopted similar programs.
Cost: The initial budget for the pilot program was $50,000. In fiscal year 2017, the City had budgeted $181,000 for the program’s continued success.
For more information:
Sacramento, CA and Charleston, SC
Kindness to Those Who Fear Aggressive Panhandlers
In response to the perceptions of business owners of a rise in aggressive behavior by homeless people, in November, 2017, the Sacramento City Council adopted two ordinances that target aggressive panhandling and unruly behavior in city parks. Under one of the ordinances, aggressive panhandling was banned within 30 feet of ATMs, public transit stops, and people pumping gas at fuel pumps. This ordinance also encouraged police to crack down on panhandling on medians and near outdoor dining areas at restaurants. Those who violate the ordinance could be cited with an infraction. Under the second ordinance, police are able to remove anyone in a city park who violates existing rules, including drinking alcohol and littering. If people refuse to leave a park or return within 24 hours, they can be cited with an infraction. Those who violate either ordinance three times in six months would be subjected to misdemeanor arrest.
The City Council passed an ordinance in April, 2017, to ban sitting or lying down on sidewalks from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. The ban is enforced on busy stretches of certain streets in the downtown commercial district. (Exceptions to the law include sitting or lying in the streets in the cases of medical emergency, disability, children in strollers, and people watching a parade, festival, performance or demonstration, as well as when waiting in line.) Violators can be fined $25 for a first offense, and up to $50 for every violation after that. The ordinance also calls on the city to make an effort to assist people who are “chronically found sitting or lying down on a public sidewalk.”
More Government Resources
The Positive Tickets idea started with a simple vision—imagine cops catching kids for doing things right! Imagine police officers hunting for the positive in youth, instead of just the negative. Ward’s vision was inspired by Keith Pattinson, master storyteller and teacher, when he heard Pattinson speak on the 40 Developmental Assets™. Hundreds of thousands of Positive Tickets later, Ward has seen his simple vision grow into a reality with enviable results.
Ward has now taken his vision of cops and kids one step further. In addition to transforming police departments and communities, Ward is now assisting organizations on ways they can put the Positive Tickets philosophy into action by rewarding and recognizing employees and customers to improve the bottom line.