Homeless soon to receive more help

The Laguna Beach Resource Center, which assists the homeless and low-income families, is planning a fundraiser to support its new full-time case worker.

Lisa Hall says she has been hired at the center in hopes of providing more in-depth services to Laguna Beach's homeless population.

The May 12 benefit — a sale of boutique items at a local church — aims to enable the center to pay Hall's salary.

Hall had volunteered at the center for two years before being hired on. She has worked in clinics for many years and was mentored by Kay Hough, who works with the homeless in Santa Ana.

Hall greets her clients with firm hugs and warm words.

"I love coming to work here," Hall said.

Her job revolves around finding services for homeless people, including job placement, substance dependency programs and mental health help.

"We've been able to assist a lot of people in getting into detox and recovery. Almost each and every one needs a driver's license or ID immediately," Hall said.

Hall said about 70% of the homeless are in that situation because of mental illness and an inability to pay for treatment and medicine. She said she marvels at the improvements many make after getting the proper medication.

The Resource Center offers a food bank, home cooked meals and clothing. There is a computer with Internet access, washing machines and reading material available to those who need them.

Mark Sipprell is homeless and volunteers his time at the center answering phones and checking people in. Sipprell said he is thankful to have the services the Resource Center offers. He tries to give back to the community by picking up tar from the beach every day and hopes to soon have his life in order with the center's help.

"I'm trying to get retrained now. I try and help people," Sipprell said.

There is a debate in town as to whether there is a growing number of homeless people in Laguna Beach. Hall and Don Black, who oversees the Resource Center, say the number is steady but it's difficult to track because transients come and go.

City Councilman Kelly Boyd, who sits on the city's new Homeless Task Force, said there is a growing number and even though it can't be tracked, it's apparent to him.

"I'm downtown six days a week and I see new ones on the street every day," Boyd said.

Boyd said because he believes the number of homeless people in the city is rising, the Resource Center is even more important than ever.

"I think it's necessary. A case worker has the resources with the county to get these people in programs they need," Boyd said.

The fundraiser, a Boutique Benefit, will offer new and used clothing donated from designer stores and individuals. The sale will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12 in the parlor at Laguna Beach Presbyterian Church, 415 Forest Ave.

Sale items will be from stores such as Black and White, Tuvalu, Tootsies and more.

For more information about the fundraiser, call (949) 499-1284 or visit www.boutiquebenefit.com.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Are there more homeless people in Laguna Beach than in previous years? Write us at P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, CA, 92652, e-mail us at coastlinepilot@latimes.com or fax us at 494-8979. Please give your name and tell us your home address and phone number for verification purposes only.

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