Tim Hawkins, Interviewed About Esplanade House and Other CAA Programs

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Chico-NOW!The KKXX radio show Chico Now, recently had our very own Tim Hawkins, Chief Programs Officer, on as a guest. Matt Foor was the gracious host of the show and we appreciate his interest in what we are doing here in the community. He was interested to learn more about our Esplanade House and other CAA programs.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here, or read the transcript of the interview below.

Matt Foor:                        
Hey, my guest today in the studio is Tim Hawkins, and he is the Chief Programs Officer for the Community Action Agency of Butte County, connected with the Esplanade House. Welcome, Tim.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Hi, there. Thank you. It's an honor to be here.

Matt Foor:                        
Yeah, it's great to have you in the studio. I thought this would be a really good show and a good topic because I got a flyer in the mail from the Esplanade House, and I read through that. I thought, "You know, this organization is doing a lot of good for a lot of people that really need it." So it just seemed like a fantastic opportunity for me to learn and for our listeners to find out more about the Esplanade House. Give us kind of a synopsis of what the Esplanade House offers to the community.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Well, the Esplanade House is a program of the Community Action Agency. It's a 59-unit apartment-style transitional and permanent housing program for homeless families in the community with children. The purpose of our program is to provide a safe and nurturing place for those families while they address the root causes of what has landed them without a home. 

I think our basic premise that we approach our work with is the idea that, metaphorically, people are born with an empty tool belt, and as they progress through life, they pick up tools. They pick up relationship tools, and they pick up responsibility tools. Those can either be good tools for the job or bad tools for the job. Obviously, people who have ended up without a home have some bad tools. And so we're there to provide a safe place for them, a safe and secure place, so that they can achieve the basics of Maslow's Hierarchy of needs; "Okay, I'm stable, now how can I address the things that I need to improve my life." So through a series of classes, we help them take a look at the tools they're currently using. Are they using a hammer that would be better for war in their relationship, as opposed to a ball-peen hammer or something that's more applicable to the situation? We show them other tools that they can put in their tool belt.

So we have a lot of evidence-based practices. One thing when people come in, we run them through what's called a self-sufficiency matrix. It's a measurement tool where we measure 25 different aspects of their self-sufficiency level. We're talking about what's their state of housing, what's their state of transportation, childcare, finances, food et cetera, et cetera. It's a scale that goes from "in crisis" to "self-sufficient." Obviously someone who's homeless is in crisis, and more often than not, they're in crisis in a wide range of those areas.

Matt Foor:                        
Right. Other parts of their lives, like possibly abuse or ...

Tim Hawkins:                    
Absolutely.

Matt Foor:                        
Addiction. Things of that nature, yeah.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Addiction. Absolutely. So every three months, we re-visit that self-sufficiency matrix, and we re-administer the matrix. We can see where people are individually improving on these 25 different levels, so that we can focus in on what they're doing right, and focus in on areas that they still might be struggling with.

Matt Foor:                        
So the residents of the Esplanade House, it is families always? It's not single individuals?

Tim Hawkins:                    
Correct. We have couples with kids, we have single moms with kids, and we have single dads with kids.

Matt Foor:                        
I mean, the work that you're doing just sounds absolutely incredible. You're really helping people transform themselves from where they're at to where they need to be, to be self-sufficient.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Absolutely. It's not enough, really, to just throw somebody into a house. If you're going to do that, you need to provide them some sort of case management. We take it a step further and give people 12 months in this transitional housing facility to really address those issues. And not just their issues, but also the issues with the kids, and I think that's probably even more important in the long run.

Tim Hawkins:                    
So we take what's called a "Two-generation approach," that's focusing on creating opportunities for addressing both the children and the adults in their lives, together. This gives us the best opportunity to break that generational cycle of poverty. Almost all of the adults that reside at the Esplanade House lived in poverty as a kid. They had parents who were struggling with addiction issues. It's just something that becomes normal in their everyday life. If we can address those issues with the children, then we can break that cycle of poverty and set these kids up for success.

Matt Foor:                        
That's amazing, the work that you're doing. We got to get into our first break. Today we are talking with Tim Hawkins, he is the Chief Programs Officer for the Community Action Agency of Butte County, the Esplanade House. We'll be back with more good information right after this break.

(break)

Matt Foor:                        
We are finding out about the Esplanade House. Again, I mentioned that I received a mailer that came to my house. It had some great photos on it and a lot of really good information about the good work that you're doing. We were just talking about how the Esplanade House takes in families, it's not for individuals. But you also are connected, I should say the Community Action Agency, with other things that helps folks, like the food bank. So let's talk a little bit about that.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Yeah. Our food bank is the North State Food Bank, and it provides food services for a five-county region. So we're in Sierra, we're in Plumas, we're in Glenn, we're in Colusa, and we're in Butte. We have 53 different sites that, throughout the month, deliver what's called "commodity foods." We also do 15 different tailgates throughout the year. This is where we pull up a big truck to a parking lot, a predesignated area, and we have anywhere from 200 to 1,000 people that show up and get boxes of food. We also do kids' farmer's markets in conjunction with the Center For Healthy Communities. This is where we bring out the healthy food and these kids learn about healthy food, how to use these different foods they may not know. They learn about buying the food, and then also taking it home and preparing it, and hopefully educating their parents about it as well.

Matt Foor:                        
I was going to say, have you had an instance when a kid came up to one of the farmer's markets and saw some food and didn't know what it was?

Tim Hawkins:                    
Oh, yeah. Brussels sprouts. You know, what are these? Are these baby cabbages? Yeah. Same things my own kids struggle with. 

Matt Foor:                        
Bok choy? What is bok choy? So if people might need some help, give me some of the information about how to get in touch with the food banks and how they can take advantage of the services.

Tim Hawkins:                    
We can find everything on our website, www.buttecaa.com. Up at the top there, you'll see nutrition and food services. If you want to find out about the Esplanade House, that's under our housing services.

Matt Foor:                        
I was reading through some of the materials that you sent to me prior to this show. I wanted you to touch on the fact that you have had some really incredible accomplishments last year in the Esplanade House. Can you share some of that with our audience?

Tim Hawkins:                    
Yes, thank you. I'd love to brag about the good work our team has done and our residents. The whole point of our case managers and our team is to help people get there. Our case managers don't do the work for them, they just help guide them and direct them, kind of like a life coach.                

Last year, we had 76 adults and 109 children at the Esplanade House. We had 23 families that moved to safe and affordable housing. One of those families actually bought a house, and we have another who's in escrow. We also had 43 adults that obtained employment, and 23 that attended training for a degree or certificate program. We had three adults get their GED, and we have nine that are still enrolled in that program. We also had 18 families that were connected to our onsite healthcare, and 135 residents received immunizations.

We had 13 families that closed their cases with the Children's Services Department. For people who don't know, that's a really big deal for families. These are families who, because of either their addiction and/or their housing instability, have lost their kids, and for any parent, that's devastating. That's as bad as it gets. Often times, that's kind of the lowest low for people that snaps them out of where they're at and realizing they need to make a change in their life.              

They've come to the Esplanade House through a process. They've gotten their kids back, and through an even longer process, the Children's Services Department has deemed that their family's doing well, their family is secure. They feel safe and comfortable with the parents, and they close those cases. It's a huge relief for those families.

Matt Foor:                        
I can't imagine. The work that you're doing and the difference that you've made in families and in children's futures, it's incredible. Congratulations. It sounds incredible.

Tim Hawkins:                    
It is. It's hugely gratifying. It's definitely a team effort and not just our team, it's the entire community. For something like this to work, really, the entire community has to put their arms around these families. A lot of times, these families are the people that you've seen walking down the street, pushing a cart with their head hung low. They don't want to look anybody in the eye. They have low self-esteem. The community support and interest is really what puts these families back on their feet.

Matt Foor:                        
It takes a village, for sure. Well, when we come back, I'd like to get to some of the critical needs of the Esplanade House, and how people might be able to help out because we've got a lot of great listeners out there that are generous and want to make a difference. 

Hey, thanks for coming by. It's Friday. We'll be back right after this break.

(break)

Matt Foor:                        
In the studio it's Tim Hawkins. He is the Chief Programs Officer for the Community Action Agency. We are talking about the Esplanade House and the incredible things that you're all doing out there. Tim, tell our audience, though, what are some of the more critical needs of the Esplanade House, and how can people help?

Tim Hawkins:                    
Well, our biggest need I would say is landlords, if we could get landlords or more landlords to partner with us to give our graduating families a shot. I think everybody in Butte County and in California recognizes there's a housing crisis. For people that are just rebuilding their lives, there's a lot of competition out there to get into a safe, secure home. Having landlords be willing to give these people a shot would be huge. They've done a lot of work, they've gone through a lot of classes, including a good tenant course, where they learn the do's and don'ts on how to be a tenant that a landlord wants to keep around.                   

Another big need is business owners. You know, employment. Everybody gets their life steadied out and they move on to where they're ready to get employment. Getting that job, especially when they've been out of the workforce for six months or a year or, my goodness, even five years, we've seen, it often takes a business owner who's willing to give somebody a shot.                  

Of course, donations. We're funded about one-third in private donations. Optimally, we would love to get another case manager on board. It's just like class sizes. The more case managers you have for the clients, the better. So we'd love to get another case manager on board.                   

Volunteers, we're always in need of volunteers with tutoring, mentoring, child psychologists, and just people to go through the different donations we get. Things like that. We also have intern opportunities where they can get real case management experience, group facilitation, and work in our outpatient drug and alcohol program.

Matt Foor:                        
Sounds like really rewarding stuff. If someone is listening, and they would like to volunteer at the Esplanade House, how can they get in touch with you?

Tim Hawkins:                    
First, you can go onto www.buttecaa.com, and you can find volunteer opportunities there at the bottom of the homepage. You can also email me, thawkins@buttecaa.com, and I can get you sorted out to the right place as well.

Matt Foor:                        
It seems like some of the classes that you offer to people are really helpful. I imagine that some of the parents would really benefit from parenting classes, like what's the right way to discipline children without hurting them or making them feel bad or guilting them.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Absolutely. I think we all need that, right?

Matt Foor:                        
I say that because I have a son, and I'm always thinking, "Hmm, was that the right way to do that or not?"

Tim Hawkins:                    
Yeah, that was me in the parenting for dummies section. We have courses from earn while you learn parenting, nutrition and budgeting for food, family enrichment, parental resiliency. We also have healthy relationships, relapse prevention, men's co-dependency, women's co-dependency, anger management, financial literacy, daily living skills, hope for life which is a group of women that comes and ministers to the women in our program.

Two others I just want to focus on real quick is moral reconation therapy and breaking the chains of trauma. These are evidence-based programs that we implemented last year. These programs really do the job of helping people shift their perspective from someone who life is happening to, to someone who is taking control of their life and is taking full responsibility of their choices and the consequences, and making life happen, not just letting life happen to them.

Matt Foor:                        
Right. I have a good friend that has come in and talked about ACEs, and how the traumatic things that happen to children when they're growing up really affects them as adults.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Yes, definitely. I think Butte County has one of the highest ACE scores in all of California, which, as a community, we need to look at and drill down on that and figure it out. At the Esplanade House, we're dealing with kids that have what they call "High-A" scores.

Matt Foor:                        
Yeah, what does "A" stand for again, the acronym?

Tim Hawkins:                    
Adverse childhood experiences.

Matt Foor:                        
Thank you. I couldn't remember that. I remember ACEs. It's not the hardware store we're talking about.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Right. So we're there to work with these kids. Our child advocate, she evaluates each child using this ages and stages assessment tool. We also have Butte College School of Nursing which comes in and performs health inventories on the children. All of these tests identify indicators of what's going on with the children, so we can help connect them with the resources that are really going to help them out.

Matt Foor:                        
Incredible. I just want to say thank you to you and your team and all the agencies that you collaborate with to do the great work that you're doing because you're literally saving lives and changing lives, and I can't think of anything else more important than the work that you're doing.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Thank you so much, Matt.

Matt Foor:                        
See, it goes really quick. We're done. We can talk for another half-hour, easy.

Tim Hawkins:                    
We could.

Matt Foor:                        
Thank you so much. My guest has been Tim Hawkins, the Chief Programs Officer of the Community Action Agency of Butte County, the Esplanade House. Thanks, Tim, for coming in.

Tim Hawkins:                    
Thank you.

Matt Foor:                        
Appreciate it. You have great weekend. We'll be here next week with Erica, and may God bless you.

 

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