Any Way You SPIN It, They Have Huge Hearts

Serving People In Need (SPIN) Teams With Hoag to Provide Housing and Other Vital Services

It has been more than 15 years, but Jean Wegener vividly recalls the first time she met the mother and her daughter. Homeless and in shelters for abused women and children, they had been referred to Serving People In Need (SPIN), a Costa Mesa-based nonprofit that helps families and individuals find stable long-term housing.

Wegener, SPIN’s executive director, immediately connected them with a safe place to stay.

The mother was battling cancer and taking care of her young daughter, Dasha. SPIN helped provide the mother with access to medical treatment that improved her quality of life. The silver lining to the story is that SPIN’s efforts established a solid foundation for safe and secure long-term housing – and Dasha ultimately received a four-year scholarship to Georgetown.

After graduation she was hired by Google in Mountain View, California. She recently transferred to Google’s Irvine office to be closer to home.

SPIN and Hoag Join Forces

Stable housing. Access to quality health care. Financial counseling and job-placement assistance. A reliable food supply.

Having access to these resources can mean the difference between a healthy, safe life and one of daily despair. When you’re homeless, these and so many other essential services are far too often difficult to access because they are spread out in different locations throughout the county.

That’s what makes the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living so unique and necessary: Underserved and at-risk individuals and families can access the critically important services they need, all in one location.

Since last year, that has included SPIN’s compassionate services for the homeless: The organization provides an onsite case manager at the Center located at 307 Placentia Avenue in Newport Beach.

“The Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living is poised to play a critical role in our efforts to help the homeless,” Wegener says.

“When you have so many services at one location, people are more likely to come for help. When someone can take a bus or their car to one location and see a dentist, a doctor, a counselor, a case manager for housing, get food and receive quality essential services, you set them up for success. Through the Center, Hoag is serving a huge community need.”

A Bold Goal: Eradicate Homelessness in Orange County

Since its inception in 1987, SPIN has served more than 74,000 families and individuals. The organization’s ultimate goal is both direct and breathtakingly bold: work with other community organizations and agencies, and city and county officials, to eradicate homelessness in Orange County once and for all.

SPIN works toward that goal by helping one family at a time – by offering what Wegener describes as “a hand up, not a handout.”

The foundation of SPIN’s support is housing. Working with dozens of landlords across the county, SPIN’s staff help place families and individuals in long-term housing. SPIN also provides financial counseling, job placement and other services. And the organization serves as a conduit to a wide range of other services through partnerships like the one with the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living.

SPIN’s participation at the Center was made possible by Melinda and Chuck Smith via the Hoag Family Foundation.

“Nothing is more important to children and their families than ensuring they have safe and stable housing,” says Arturo Diaz, LCSW, supervisor of the Center. “We have been so impressed by the successes of Jean and her staff and the major, positive difference they are making in so many lives. It just made a lot of sense to pair their efforts and momentum with the comprehensive services Hoag offers at the Center for Healthy Living.”

In 2017, Wegener says, fully 92 percent of SPIN’s clients succeeded in becoming self-sufficient and independent of all public support.

Because “children are our future,” she says SPIN concentrates most of its housing efforts on families.

Filling in the Housing Gap with ‘GAPP’

SPIN places families in housing through its housing program, GAPP (Guided Assistance to Permanent Placement), which provides financial assistance for housing, including rapid rehousing, transitional housing and rental assistance for families with children.

Wegener says the foundation of GAPP is case management and support services that address the underlying issues that led to a client’s current situation. The services provided often include job development, counseling, budgeting, credit cleanup and more.

In addition, SPIN serves Orange County’s homeless by taking it to the streets, literally. Through its Street Services Program established in 1987, SPIN provides 350 meals each week and distributes hygiene kits, warm clothing, blankets, sleeping mats, referrals to shelters and other special requests to the homeless at The Courtyard in Santa Ana, to the homeless collaborative in Laguna Beach, and to the County’s first year-round emergency shelter.

Learn more about SPIN at www.spinoc.org or by calling 714-751-1101.