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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 1

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Homeless? Bah humbug!

EDITOR: I’m writing about the story about residents trying to close the Sonoma Alliance Church winter homeless shelter. (“Neighbors Vow to Shut Down Homeless Shelter,” Dec. 21). Really? Is this a story in the Index-Tribune, or the beginning of a Dickens novel? Grumpy guy and some of his neighbors decide they must shut down a church because it is doing what a church should do... sheltering “the least of these.” The grumpy guy and neighbors have never seen evidence of violence or crime, but they are certain the homeless people must be pedophiles, addicts or at least troublemakers. For heaven’s sake, they have seen single people walking in the neighborhood! Surely, violence and murder can’t be far behind! And the church itself must be put out of business, because not only do they care for the homeless in the winter, but on summer weekends they have music! Sometimes as late as 8 p.m.! Oh, the horror...

I tell you, this story seems so off the wall I can’t help wondering if it is really all true. But if it is, I hope the ghosts of past, present and future are planning to make a visit to Sonoma soon. There are some folks here who are desperately in need of an infusion of Christmas Spirit... and basic kindness. Let’s all wish the grumpy people well. They will be so much happier if they learn from the loving spirit of their church neighbors.

Alexandra Bassett

Sonoma

What would Jesus do?

EDITOR: I’m writing to express my sincere thanks to Janis Mara for her fair and balanced piece in the Dec. 21 edition of the Index-Tribune.

As pastor of the Sonoma Alliance Church, I can say that we have been very troubled by our neighbors’ threats and vitriol over our offering a warm and dry place to sleep to those who have nowhere else to lay their heads.

The church has been blessed to do this for the past few years with absolutely no payment or recompense. We, simply, are following the teachings of Jesus Christ to love those around us. Sadly, it seems that our little church of 30 people will be sued for just trying to love others. We leave it all in God’s hands. I would like to say that Janis Mara’s desire to get down to the truth of the situation was both appreciated and a nice change of pace from the angry letters and rude phone calls we have received of late.

Rev. Rob Goerzen

Sonoma Alliance Church

Shut down homeless shelter at Christmas?!

EDITOR: The front page of the Dec. 21 I-T hits home hard. Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, in fact, all major religions do the same world-wide. But, through the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus goes on to show us that everyone and anyone is our neighbor. He additionally assures us that when we feed the hungry, visit the sick or shelter the homeless – we are not just doing those things for our fellow brothers and sisters, but for Jesus himself. How can we shut down the Watmaugh Sonoma Alliance Church shelter at all, especially during the season of Christmas - its “no room in the inn” all over again.

Look closely into the pleading eyes of Mr. Fassio and you will see the face of Christ.

Ty Krauss

Sonoma

The Haven is a heaven

EDITOR: Haven or heaven? English is my second language and I really didn’t know. I had been confused and thought “haven” was the same as “heaven,” until last year. When someone corrected me, then I said to myself: Wait a minute... maybe it is right. For the homeless, haven is a heaven. In my mind, I will always think of the Haven homeless shelter on First Street West in this beautiful and meaningful way!

I want to thank Janis Mara and the Index-Tribune for reporting about the people seeking to close the winter homeless shelter in the Sonoma Alliance Church. Many comments have been made about this issue on social media that have enhanced the awareness of the homeless problem in Sonoma Valley.

Cindy Vrooman has just resigned as Sonoma Overnight Support President due to a serious health problem. But she never forgets those in need and, even though she has very little energy, she still had compassion and was telling people that, “I am dying. Please use your love and not anger toward our local homeless people.”

For the past three years, Sonoma Overnight Support has successfully run this small winter shelter, which typically serves around 10 people on cold winter nights. As a nonprofit organization, SOS is rapidly responding to address the concerns of local citizens.

Kathy King, SOS’s Executive Director, is working closely with Rev. Rob Goerzen at Sonoma Alliance Church, 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin, and other county and city officials, to pursue a resolution to the zoning and use permit.

Last year, Sonoma County was designated as a federal disaster area. We want the county to update the church’s permit to meet ever-changing needs. We don’t want to see people misuse the law, as a tool to rationalize their position. With compassion, the law should be used as an instrument for social justice, in the service of all of our citizens!

Many thanks to all of the many people who support the work we do at Sonoma Overnight Support. Your donations and creative ideas on the homeless issues, in our community, are greatly appreciated.

My hope is that during this holiday season we never forget that the staircase to haven – heaven – is right there in all of our hearts.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year!

Jack Ding

SOS boardmember