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Mailbag: What's happened to my hometown?

October 25, 2012

I am proud to say that I grew up in the city of Costa Mesa, and it was my only residence for my first 30 years until moving to Lake Forest in 1996. My family and friends continue to live in Costa Mesa, and I follow news about the city with great interest in my former hometown.

Needing to restate my first sentence, in light of current opinions and efforts by many, if not most of the City Council, I would now have to write "I was proud to say that I grew up in the city of Costa Mesa."

I have been following the recent comments made by Costa Mesa's mayor, Eric Bever, regarding the operations of nonprofits in Costa Mesa that serve people in need, particularly Someone Cares Soup Kitchen and Share Our Selves (SOS).

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I am outraged, dismayed and frustrated that an elected public official would use his voice and position as a bully pulpit to denigrate citizens in this way. At first, I had hoped that Mayor Bever would have been speaking from a place of knowledge and understanding about what these valuable organizations do and the population they serve.

It seems apparent that Mayor Bever has not done adequate research, nor has he even deigned to visit these sites and see for himself what happens there. Before an elected official voices their position on an issue, it would be valuable to educate himself on the issue.

My family has supported the work of both of these organizations for many years. My church supports the work of these organizations. My teenage children have seen first-hand the valuable work that these organizations do, and this has broadened their knowledge and understanding of the community they live in and why it is important to care.

Both Someone Cares and SOS serve the population of Costa Mesa, as well as needy people from surrounding communities who find it necessary to travel to Costa Mesa in search of the services offered. The Adopt A Family program that SOS coordinates each year at the holidays reinforces the understanding of the great need that exists in Costa Mesa, whether Mayor Bever wants to believe it or not.

I urge Mayor Bever to retract his simplistic and uneducated statements. I urge Mayor Bever to undertake a journey of understanding about the work of the nonprofits operating in the city of Costa Mesa. I urge Mayor Bever to speak with the staff and governing bodies of these organizations so that he can come to understand the constituency that they serve.

I urge Mayor Bever, and any council members and staff who choose to agree with him, to learn about the true issues of homelessness. I urge them to begin the work with the surrounding communities to find solutions, rather than take a backlash position and call for closure of nonprofits that serve the very constituency that the Costa Mesa City Council is charged with serving.

Shelley Chretin

Lake Forest

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