Recovery at the Santa Ana Riverbed

Bringing our recovery model to life: Telecare partners with Orange County Health Care Agency in helping the homeless relocate from the Santa Ana Riverbed.

In Orange County, 30 Telecare staff members showed up to help the county’s Health Care Agency provide clinical assessments to more than 700 individuals experiencing homelessness who were being transitioned from the Santa Ana Riverbed to motels throughout the county.

“We were proud to be able to respond to their call,” said Ed Bienkowski, Telecare’s Regional Director of Operations in Orange County. “I got a request on Saturday night over President’s Day weekend to see if we had anyone available to assess the mental health needs of people being moved the next week. I texted our administrators, and within an hour they all got back to me with staff lined up to help.”

That Sunday and Monday, staff members and interns from Telecare’s TAO, TAO South, STEPS, and Orange County AOT programs came with their cars and trucks to assist the county with moving belongings and providing clinical assessments.

"I was there to offer compassion and support for those who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity of getting into a motel," said Jyoti Gustafson, Personal Service Coordinator (PSC) II at Orange County AOT. "Some had jobs, some had pets and family, others had not been homeless for long and just needed a place to regroup. They were people in their community who would benefit from linkage to a variety of resources. By us being there on a united front with the county and interacting with those who needed placement, we may be a familiar face down the line if that person is ever referred to our program or in need of services."

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"Going to the riverbed was a reminder of why it is so important to do what we do every day," said Angela Pierce, PSC II at TAO South. "It was a humbling experience and a great reminder of the cultural diversity of both our members and Orange County in general, and the need to provide resources and the support to allow people to have fulfilling lives. It was also a reminder to be mindful of each other's uniquenesses and to be present when engaging with individuals—comforting people when they express sadness, celebrating people when they achieve their goals. We were able to show people we are there to support as best we could, even if it was just to ease the stress, anxiety, fear, or whatever they were experiencing at the time."

We are grateful to have such a committed team of Telecare staff members who respond with great heart to help others in times of need. We are honored to be a helpful resource to our customers and in our local communities.

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