“Nobody knows But Me”, Homeless on the Streets of Oxnard- Part 5- Working in Plaza Park

By Lang Martinez with Bonnie Rouda
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This article is dedicated to those protecting our community with exceptional service. Oxnard Police Department, City of Oxnard Housing Director Emilio Ramirez and Homelessness Coordinator Mark Alvarado, (my friend, who I upset on a daily basis- I apologize Mark).
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Luke 15 verse 4, 5 and 6; ‘suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? When he finds it he joyfully puts it on his shoulder, carries it home, then calls his friends and neighbors saying “rejoice with me I have found my lost sheep”.
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On July 4th I was in Plaza Park with Rafael Stoneman, a homeless advocate for veterans who works for Gold Coast. You can also find his articles in the Acorn and Citizens Journal. Together we did our own assessment on the homeless in Plaza Park. Let me remind you, I was in that Park a little over eleven months ago.  Everyone in that Park knows me and the life I have today. Even though their lives are not like mine, through cloudy minds they look at me telling me they are proud of me and love me. When I see them in this situation. it breaks my heart. I say to myself, “thank you God, please give me the right words to speak so they will listen. Let it be your voice that comes from my lips and God please don’t let them die like this”.  Sadly, before going to the park that day, I had great expectations in finding one person who would say to me, “Lang, I want what you have”.  I didn’t find that person this day.  Maybe, just maybe when they get sick and tired of living this life they will have that moment of clarity like I had, and come look for me? I made that promise to God and when they do look for me I will be there for them. 
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After we did our assessment, I roughly estimated that 80+% suffer from chronic addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. I also observed that 80+% appear to need immediate drug or alcohol treatment in a residential treatment program for a minimum of 90 days or longer. I also estimate that 40+% are in immediate need of a medical detoxification center and that 80+% need immediate mental health assessments or services. It’s a known fact that can’t be challenged by professionals that mental health is definitely the underlying issue. In conclusion I ask, “is living life like this insane”?
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Step 2 in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, ‘came to believe a power greater than ourselves to restore us to sanity’.  While we were at Plaza Park, two police patrol units pulled up on 5th Street across from the park.  I spoke to one of the officers who I would like to personally thank for those kind words he said to me. That officer told me that the OPD has read my articles and they are proud of me.  He then shook my hand. Thank you Officer Martin Perez, thank you!  I was overwhelmed- it brought me to tears.  As I was walking away, I  remembered all the times they put handcuffs on me.  Now they are shaking my hand and telling me they’re proud of me.  My real father never said those words to me, never. I would have to say that all 64 times was God putting those handcuffs on me thru these officers.
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The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 63 step 3 prayer; ” God, I offer myself to Thee – To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. 
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. 
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness 
to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. 
May I do Thy will always! “
         Amen! – Lang Martinez
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Below are the results of a recent city-administered questionnaire to the homeless in the Oxnard/Downtown/Plaza Park area. You will note that these numbers are very different from our own estimates and will also likely differ from the city’s numbers after they get on the ground and do their outreach. What people say on a survey and the hard truth often differ.  Others I have consulted agree with me.
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On 5:30 pm on July 31 at Mission Church, I will be celebrating one year of sobriety. The address is 5353 Walker Street Ventura , CA. 93003. You are welcome to attend.
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Editor’s note: The formerly homeless author of this article told us he’s spent a total of about 6 years on the streets (non-contiguously) in LA and Oxnard and been in multiple recovery programs. He says he is clean now and taking one day at a time, trying to help local homeless people.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.


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