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Newport Beach

Volume 7, Issue 6  |  January 21, 2022


Take Five: Meet Terry Moore, Homeless Task Force member, Trellis work program organizer

By AMY SENK

Last September, I was watching a City Council meeting when Terry Moore made a presentation about a program that was connecting men and women experiencing homelessness with work opportunities in our city. It captured my attention, so I reached out to Moore to find out more about the city’s homelessness issue – and what steps are begin taken to help.

Take Five Terry Moore

Photos courtesy of Terry Moore

Terry Moore

Q: You were one of the seven people selected for the city’s Homeless Task Force in 2019. What has that experience been like and what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned? 

A: To be candid, it was frustrating. Our meetings began with extensive public commentary, the result being that of our two-hour time limit we frequently had only 20 to 30 minutes to actually conduct business. Ultimately, the work we ended up doing in three-person committees was what bore fruit and moved the city toward viable solutions for this hot-button problem. The result, at least to this point, has been fewer people living on the street, and perhaps more importantly, seeing many of those who have come off the street or beach become housed or at least receiving the services they need. 

Take Five Meet Terry Moore three workers

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Three workers in the Trellis program make a “major haul” after a recent post-storm clean up in Newport Beach

Q: What is the Trellis organization, and how does Trellis work with the City of Newport Beach?

A: Trellis is a non-profit organization initially created to bring cities, businesses and individuals together with the faith community to foster involvement at all levels in the most critical issues our communities are facing. Currently we have three primary initiatives – homelessness, neighboring and primary education. We don’t have room in this column to look at the last two of those, so I will focus on the area in which I am engaged, namely homelessness. I have known Ian Stevenson, the founder and executive director of Trellis, for more than 25 years. Last spring, Trellis was awarded a significant grant from Costa Mesa to revitalize the Community Impact Team (CIT) – its transitional work program for people experiencing homelessness. Ian asked me to come aboard in an official capacity to help find those work opportunities. Given my history with the Homeless Task Force, I thought there could be a great opportunity for mutual benefit between Trellis, our housing-insecure population and the City of Newport Beach. We crafted a proposal for a contract, and that eventually became a grant proposal supported by City Engineer Dave Webb and his staff. At the end of a five-month process, in September the City Council unanimously approved a grant allowing for two work projects per week for one year. Without the Council, the city manager and the Public Works Department all seeing the value in our program, so much benefit would have been left on the table.

Q: I heard you telling the City Council about a program that helped connect those experiencing homelessness with projects and jobs around town. Can you explain more about that program, when it began, how it works and what kind of projects have been done? 

A: I’ll give you a few examples. A business like Newport Rib Co. contracts with Trellis to have a four-person team come for a four-hour project and deep clean the kitchen, grills, etc. In return, the company will make a donation to Trellis based on those man hours – in this case 16. Another example would be Mariners Church. We frequently send teams of four to six to clean the main sanctuary or other rooms after a weekend or special event. As far as the City of Newport Beach goes, we meet with city staff weekly. Before the storms at the end of December redirected our focus, we operated on a rotating calendar of picking up all trash at five busy parks and on five or six major arteries like Jamboree, MacArthur, PCH, San Joaquin Hills Road and others. I estimate that in the first three months, we removed nearly two tons of trash from the streets and parks. We do whatever the staff directs us to, and we assign individuals based on their skills, experience and limitations. This is the most important thing to know – our Impact Team members receive $50 Visa gift cards for every four-hour project. They are not employees, but are classified as volunteers.  The cards are funded by the donations from the sponsoring business, or grant. 

Take Five Meet Terry Moore workers and van

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Trellis program workers cleaning up an area at Pacific Coast Highway and Dover Drive

Q: What are the workers’ attitudes about these opportunities? 

A: We currently carry 50 to 60 men and women on our roster. Attendance at our Saturday morning meeting is required, and that is where we distribute the job sheets for the next week and the gift cards earned the previous week. We keep a spreadsheet of who has worked the recent projects and try to make sure everyone gets a slot as often as possible. In a typical week we send 20 to 25 people out on various projects. Everyone wants to be on a team, and my personal goal this spring is to double the number of projects currently on our calendar. The monetary benefit is helpful, but the greatest impact has been the sense of self-worth, of being productive and being part of both our micro community and community at large. You can’t spend hours cleaning up the streets or the parks or beaches and not take a measure of pride in both your efforts and your city. Our people are so capable. We constantly exceed sponsors’ expectations. In fact, in just the past two months, three local businesses have been so impressed with some of our team members that they have hired four of our people as regular year-round employees. We are not an employment agency, but we do look for and pass along information at our meetings about job opportunities. We regularly elevate outstanding workers to Team Leader status and encourage them to update any resumes to reflect that leadership role.

Take Five Meet Terry Moore trash

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Bundled trash collected at Bonita Creek Park

Q: How can people help?

A: I’ll try to be concise here…If you own or perhaps manage a business that can use regular or occasional inexpensive help, contact us. We need responsible individuals to act as volunteer Project Managers. A PM accompanies every team that goes into the field, and as our calendar expands, so does our need for people to step in. We also have a real need for volunteers at our Check In Center, which is open morning and evening so people living on the street have a place to store their belongings overnight. Financial support. We always need additional funds in order to supply our teams with the proper equipment, uniforms, etc. One generous donor bought us a brand-new power washer, which opened up a new avenue of work for us. Contact Trellis if you want to learn about opportunities to serve and get to know our people. You will be amazed at who you might meet. In the past three years the city has made huge strides in addressing this issue. The City Council has been effective in putting resources where they can make the biggest impact. The appointment of Natalie Basmaciyan as Homeless Coordinator has paid huge dividends. She is dedicated and engaged daily in the work of getting people experiencing homelessness the proper help, as is our police department and many private individuals. The biggest issue we find everywhere is the lack of facilities for people with mental health issues. So many of our people on the street are there because there is no path toward mental wellness for them. I wish that people would recognize that homelessness isn’t just an issue. It is people – people with the same need to be known, to be heard, to be cared about as the rest of us. 

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Amy Senk is a long-time resident of Corona del Mar and a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.

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