As Kimberly Cardona, Brian Torres and Reanna Lopez spoke, it was obvious how much they care about their jobs.
“The minute he saw us, a big smile hugged us,” Torres said. “He was grateful.”
Cardona, Torres and Lopez make up the recently formed PROS team for the city of La Puente. The acronym stands for Programs Re-employment Outreach Services and much of what it does is get the homeless off the streets, help people rehabilitate, find them jobs and find refuge. more permanent.
The man Torres mentioned is Pablo Jimenez. The 46-year-old was found lying on the sidewalk of Old Valley Boulevard. bridge on September 9. He was suffering from a head trauma after being assaulted a few weeks earlier and was suffering from methamphetamine withdrawal.
The team were able to get their hands on his family, who came to pick him up. The team provided the family with contact information for My Health LA, which would provide Medi-Cal as well as drug rehab.
On October 6, the PROS team received a message indicating that Jimenez had been able to rekindle his relationship with his family and had been enrolled in a three-month rehabilitation program. He was homeless and his family had not seen him for months.
“He’s doing great,” Cardona said. “He’s kind and healthy. He trains every day.
The team know that because it doesn’t just help someone get off the street and get into a rehabilitation center, they follow up in the best way – with a wonderful visit to the person in treatment. detoxification and the ability to offer what Torres calls enveloping services. .
“I think what’s unique about the current program is that we’re not just focusing on homelessness as much as we’re dealing with now,” Torres said. “What makes our division a little unique and different is that we are looking for things… we are preventative, we are looking to the future.
“How can we deal with some of these issues years from now to prevent some of these things from happening?” It has to do with our PROS. We have programs that we have created within that division. We also take care of reuse.
Cardona echoed that sentiment.
“I think what also makes us special is that we are doing the local case management and getting involved in people,” she said. “Like he (Torres) said, it’s not just like, oh, it’s a number, okay, we got you in. No, we want to make sure that once your schedule is Detoxification completed, there is a bed available for you to go to for an inpatient residency program.
“If there is no bed available then we have to look for other places to accommodate you.”
PROS is funded by the American Rescue Plan.
“We have the re-employment part, we have 10 positions; they’re actually all full right now, ”Cardona said. “We are working with the reintegration program. We also hire anyone we see on the street who we think they want a job. “
These are temporary part-time positions that can lead to something permanent, whether with the city or another agency, Cardona said. They are not limited to homeless or low-income people who may be on the verge of homelessness, as they are also open to residents looking to gain work experience and move on to employment. full-time.
PROS began in August at the request of City Council, who wanted the team to work with a special mission team of two deputies (Ryan Ortiz and Vanessa Guzman) from the Sheriff’s Department of Industry, who were already dealing with homeless.
Even though the town of La Puente, with a population of 39,298, has around 30 to 45 homeless at a time – this number fluctuates, but also increases – the idea is to bring it under control before this number n ‘increases.
There is the humanitarian side of PROS. Helping other residents and businesses affected by homelessness is another. Torres said business owners complain about homeless people entering their workplaces and harassing them.
“Some of these things that we do is we try to bring these business owners together and have public meetings,” Torres said. “The important thing is to listen. We must listen to these inhabitants, to these traders.
“That’s when we come back and say, OK, that’s what was said. How can we go about this? How can we do it? That’s where we can create programs, services that can focus on some of these things.
The PROS team recently brought another homeless alcoholic off the streets and helped him get into rehab. Since the rehabilitation center required four sets of clothing to enter, the three team members went to the store and purchased the appropriate amount of clothing and shoes for him.
It’s that sort of thing that touches the hearts of these three people, all of whom already worked for the city in different capacities.
“I think it’s a blessing,” Lopez said. “I learned a lot being part of this team. And I think the most important thing is that I’ve been growing every day since I’ve been here. One thing I really love about this job is that you never know what you’re going to get when you walk into the office every day.
“When we have the chance to help someone and get them off the streets, it’s a feeling of gratitude. “
Cardona got a little emotional as she talked about what it means to her to be on PROS.
“It makes my job worth it and honestly it doesn’t look like a job,” she said. “I like taking care of people and helping people and sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh wait a minute, am I really getting paid to do this? Because that makes everything worth it. Especially with the story of Pablo. We were able to reunite him with his family.
Torres, who said he has always had a passion for helping homeless and displaced residents, said working with like-minded people like Cardona and Lopez was part of his reward.
“They’re just an amazing team,” Torres said. “It’s gratifying to come to work. I mean, I love it. I like it because I work with people who genuinely care about doing this type of work.