Free Brown, founder of Hope Task Force, isn’t waiting until ground breaks for the tiny houses for the homeless. They need services now, and the Hope Task Force is going to deliver.
Statistics indicate that there are about 1,900 people in Oakland without shelter, though some estimates place the number closer to 9,000. “About 76 percent are single adults, 3 percent are
families,” Brown said in a statement. “In response to this disparity, we pledge our ongoing commitment to outreach services.”
On Saturday, Dec. 15, HTF and its many community partners will provide legal services, health tests, mobile showers, winter clothing and two warm meals from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the West Oakland Youth Center, 3233 Market St., in Oakland.
It will be the first multi-service day presented by HTF of many planned for the coming year.
Brown sees the service day like the tune-ups at a NASCAR race where a team of people rush out to take care of the needs of the car and driver.
“We don’t want them to have to go anywhere else to get the help they need,” she said. Clients can apply for WIC (food and nutrition services for women and infants) and EBT (food stamps) as well as get referrals for shelters.
The different agencies coming together to help are impressive. Barbara Howard and Marshawn Harris provided the space at the center; Lifelong Medical and Summit Hospital are providing health screenings; staff from Marshawn Lynch’s Fam 1st Family Foundation is providing support; and Roots Community Center can immediately absorb clients in East Oakland.
A critical service that day is by East Bay Community Law, which will release court debts related to parking tickets. This is especially important for people who are living in their cars. “If you get a boot on your car, your car is towed, and your home is towed, essentially,” Brown said.
Overall, Brown just wants the unsheltered to feel cared for. “I didn’t want it to be one of those things where they get something to eat and leave,” she said. There will be a play area for children and free installation and giveaway of child car seats.
A military brat who settled in Oakland in 2012, Brown has an instinct to serve. She already has a day job working in mental health, and she founded Ardor of Hope in 2016 on principles instilled upon her as the daughter of a COGIC minister and a member of a sorority, Zeta Phi Beta.
The homeless population is mostly Black, she wanted the event to feel like a welcoming place.
That’s why she reached out to two Black-owned caterers, Mine-To-Yours and Busy Wife, to provide breakfast and Food of God (FOG), a non-denominational outdoor feeding program, to serve lunch.
Brown needs volunteers to distribute the 1,200 hygiene kits that include tampons and even condoms.
“Most hygiene kits are aimed at men with shaving supplies,” Brown said. “We wanted to emphasize women’s needs.”
The multi-service day will be on Sat. Dec. 15, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the West Oakland Youth Center at 3233 Market St. To donate, volunteer, or get more information, go to www.hopetaskforce.org