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All the Help We Cannot Give

We aren’t the Statue of Liberty but our poem could be close. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Streicher House has certainly become the settling place for the masses of poor, tired, mentally ill, and addicted in our county. How we, as a community, didn’t see them before, I do not know.

They somehow were invisible in a productive, bustling county of busy people. Since we have discovered them and shared their stories with you, we can say it has brought out the best in people and we have been given support by the citizens beyond expectations.

Still, you and the volunteers at Streicher House can only do so much. We cannot come near to meeting the needs of these throwaway people and relief doesn’t look close.


What we have found is that the majority of lost souls,

living outside are mentally ill. It really isn’t the addicted,

the criminals, the lazy or poor. It is people who are not functioning mentally and lay right below the radar of anyone seeing them.


Meet Ed. Ed is another quiet, unassuming man who no one would know existed if it wasn’t for him coming to Streicher House. Ed is obviously mentally ill but more importantly, he has lost all bowel and bladder control. Ed shows up daily to the house with a pants full of poo and pee. The volunteers have done the best they can do with showering him and putting him in depends, but it isn’t enough.

We recently went through this with another man. We know what it takes and we don’t have the strength or expertise to do it.

Today was the saddest day for us when we told him he could no longer come in the house. First, he sits on the furniture and leaves feces about. Secondly, if we wash his clothes it fills our washer, that we use for all the homeless, full of poop. We can’t bleach it enough. Third, there is no end in sight for him as he doesn’t fully comprehend what is happening to him or what he can to do help himself.

Ed’s family does not want to have anything to do with him. Many mentally ill challenge family and often they give up on them. They end up wandering the streets and living in sub-human conditions until found dead or near death.

Ed lives in a non-functioning trailer with no heat, running water or amenities. We know he has no place to change and wash his clothes or take a shower. We know that his mental capacity hinders taking care of himself.

We have no shelter or agency to drive Ed and have him helped.

What we did do is call APS and we are depending on them to see Ed moves to a rest home. That is where Ed needs to be. Hopefully, one that has experience with the mentally ill.

We received word they are going to work on this but we are not sure the worker is going to change his pants, wash his clothes and see he gets a shower someplace.

We expect to see Ed tomorrow but we will not be changing his pants or showering him. We will be delivering a meal to his car where he will have to stay. It breaks our hearts, confuses our minds, stirs despair but we have no choice.

We are just volunteers with only the support of the citizens. We have no paid or trained staff. We have no ability to handle biohazards, bodily fluids or full on mental illness.

I told Ed we would not abandon him. After his shower, I put my arm around his shoulder and told him how handsome and spiffy he looked. He smiled big and his eyes lit up. There is a human being inside his body. A human being that responds to kindness and care. We will continue to be loving and kind but for Ed, it truly is all the help we cannot give.

Please continue to make your voice heard that you want services for homeless and mentally ill in our county.


Divine Spark provides support and guidance for people in-need without regard to gender, race, creed, age, or calling to activate the divine spark within each of them. The Streicher House Community Day Center is focused on providing the homeless and those in need in the Nevada City area with nutritious meals, access to showers and laundry facilities, behavioral, mental, and physical services, and assistance related to finding housing and jobs. ​Your donations to Divine Spark are vital to those in need. With every dollar, piece of clothing, and food item - you are able to make a world of difference to someone less fortunate. There are many ways you can donate to Divine Spark.

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