Pops has been housed since 2012, works at a local school, and helps out at Ritter Center.
Grandad and Local Resident Pops was Homeless for 8 Years Until He Found Ritter Center.
San Rafael grandad and Ritter Center client and volunteer, Pops, lived in his car for 8 years following a job loss. Ritter Center became his community hub and a lifeline for everyday essentials. In 2012 Ritter Director of Case Management Colin McDonnell found pops a permanent home where he still lives today.
“In 2004 I was laid off. I wasn’t getting along with the guy I was living with and so I put my stuff into storage, and moved into my car. That was it. I became homeless at that moment and although I never slept on the streets, I lived in my car until 2012,” said Pops.“I was fortunate in that I always had a vehicle and usually some form of employment, but my job just wasn’t secure enough to sign a lease on a place to call home,” remembers Pops.
“Ritter Center was a great place for me to do laundry and take a shower. In 2012, Ritter Director of Case Management Colin McDonnell helped me find a spare room that was available in Novato and a few months later, I had a place in the Canal District in San Rafael. I am able to afford it on my income and it is a wonderful place to call home. I help out at San Rafael High School at the athletic games making sure the teams have water and the trainers have medical equipment. I also maintain the golf carts. Of course, this was all pre-COVID. I look forward to returning when it is safe again. I have been there 21 years and I miss it,” shares Pops.
“What makes Ritter unique is that it’s a community. It was a place for me to not only shower and do laundry, but it was also a place to have an address to get my mail. I could give back and help out in return. If they needed things done, I could lend a hand. Washing and folding towels. Whatever needed doing,” notes Pops.
“The Ritter food bank is also important. There is a lot more demand during the pandemic. Ritter fulfills a need because many families aren’t working now and they need a little extra help to get by. Beans, cans of tuna, and peanut butter. Every little bit counts. It is a place to go to get help when you feel lost. It could be as simple as needing to get yourself and your clothes clean. Or it could be more complex like support for mental health issues. The staff is great. Colin McDonnell and the others are always willing to stop and talk to you to answer your questions the best they can. They listen to advice or complaints. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know how they do it. They keep their cool and a level head even when people are very upset,” says Pops.
Pops is filled with appreciation for the place he inhabits now both literally and figuratively:
“I am grateful that Ritter exists and I hope that people become more open-minded and that with the new administration in DC, we might see good changes soon. I am housed now. I have a different perspective. I am grateful to not be living in a car now. I have been housed for almost 8 years. There are too many people out sleeping on the streets. We still need more outreach and support as there are more people out there still needing help.”