What they’re probably not aware of is where she comes from, White Sands Retirement Community in La Jolla.
The homeless helper is Pat Guerrero, activities director at the retirement center, who now has an accomplice,
White Sands resident Lois Ream.
On Mondays, during Guerrero’s lunch break, the pair drive down to a homeless camp on Mariner’s Point to hand out eggs, cheese, crackers and compassion.
“You have to look at them and see them to let them know that you care,” said Guerrero. “They know our names and they respect us.”
“You have to do what you can do,” implored Ream. “You have to do something.”
Guerrero brings hard-boiled eggs and string cheese for the homeless because those items can be easily “tucked in a pocket.” Ream brings complementary crackers.
Ream collects shoes at White Sands for the homeless. Guerrero brings them new socks. “You can put them on your hands if you’re cold,” she noted.
Both strongly Christian women see homeless aid as part of their life’s mission. And both have skin in the game. Guerrero’s late ex-husband was a recovering alcoholic who felt “safer” on the street.
“If I’m feeding this person … maybe someone (else) was helping my husband,” Guerrero said.
Ream has a homeless, substance-abusing relation in Denver.
“We just give from the bottom of our hearts and say, ‘Here it is,’ said Ream. “I don’t think of it as anything else but love.”
Why do Guerrero and Ream tend to the homeless?
“Even though my ex-husband isn’t out there anymore, somebody’s husband, somebody’s brother is out there,” said Guerrero. “We’re just helping them get by.”
“How do you feel when you finish doing your dishes or cleaning?" answered Ream. “This is just what I do. I don’t have to feel good, or elated. I’ve done it all my life.”
Both women discussed what needs to be done to give the homeless a hand up.
“I’d like to see something done about separating the mentally ill from the people dedicated to being homeless,” said Ream, who added she opposes young drug offenders being thrown into prison, preferring they get job training instead.
“What I’d like to see done is just to provide them with the basics: a bathroom, a shower,” said Guerrero. “That would help give them a little sense of their dignity back. We need to give them a purpose, a sense of being validated.”
“You’ve got to do it because you’re called to do it,” concluded Ream about aiding the homeless.
According to recent statistics from WeAllCount, San Diego County has the fourth-largest homeless population in the United States, with an estimated 9,100 people affected.