It’s not too clichÃ©d to say that Laguna Beach has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
A long-planned, much-maligned alternative sleeping location "” aka the emergency homeless shelter "” has opened with surprisingly positive results and no major incidents.
As hoped, people are no longer bedding down on the beaches or parks, and community members and visitors for the first time in a long time have a sense of peace on public property.
For their part, most of the homeless seem delighted with the new accommodations, and have willingly taken advantage of the warm, dry sleeping quarters and the caring people who welcome them in at night.
This was no small task, and credit is due to the years of work by local volunteers who simply would not give up on trying to help those who had no place to go but the streets.
The level of trust that has been built up over the years between the helpers and the “helpees" no doubt laid the groundwork for the truly overwhelming response to the sleeping location.
But volunteers couldn’t be expected to organize such a well-run shelter as the one at 1900 Laguna Canyon Road.
The professionals from Friendship Shelter have stepped up and taken on this monumental task, bringing in expertise from outside Laguna Beach to create an excellent, yet spartan, shelter.
Time will tell, of course, whether the sleeping location lives up to its promise and possibly paves the way for more permanent accommodations, and even eases some street-dwellers into safer and more constructive ways of living.
On Thursday, whether you sit down with family and friends, or attend one of the Laguna Beach Thanksgiving feasts "” don’t forget that the annual Bluebird Park feast has moved to the Congregational Church "” you will know that the past two weeks of heavy lifting have given homeless people in Laguna and beyond a new lease on life. Indeed, lives will no doubt be saved.
There is much work to be done in the future, and a cadre of new volunteers is already being sought to help staff the sleeping location and keep the good work going.
To volunteer, call Ann Richardson at the Resource Center at (949) 683-6242.