Community Collaboration Inables South Lake Tahoe Warm Room
[Guest column: Rabbi Evon Yakar]
Less than two years ago, I had an amazing opportunity to learn about an idea in our community. This nascent concept was to ensure human dignity for our vulnerable neighbors with insufficient housing.
This conversation soon grew and reached over a hundred individuals on our South Shore community as the Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless (TCH) and its Warm Room project were born. Then, the newly formed board understood what I learned about in that first conversation: With partners and with energy we could make a difference in our community.
This first goal of ensuring human dignity soon grew beyond this first-level, yet imperative, objective to include providing safety and services and even to work toward longer term and lasting solutions. As the coalition formed and brought together people from different walks of life, there was a growing sense of community. It has been through relationships formed between different faith groups, among people from different professional and occupational circles and by linking the private concerned citizens together with the public entities at the city and the county that success has been achieved.
As a member of the advisory council of the Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless, I was invited to a conversation with Councilmember Wendy David, Police Chief Brian Uhler and TCH board member Nicole Zaborsky. Learning even more about the relationships that have been created along the way, I heard first-hand about the shared outcomes the city holds together with the coalition.
It is because of this commonality that partnership is not only possible, but continues to be effective. Hearing both Chief Uhler and Councilmember David express a clear concern for everyone’s human dignity, that the coalition, together with the city, the county and the police department (and others) can work to ensure better safety and access to services was up-lifting.
This shared vision of a community working together to provide for people who are homeless, in need of quality services and most of all a sense of connection, continues to make the Warm Room project a great success. There is no doubt that challenges exist on a daily basis. Yet, through the partnerships, the shared outcomes and a bit of hope, so much is still possible.
I am grateful to continue to be a part of the TCH’s work and the Warm Room project. I also want to offer thanks to Chief Uhler and the City Council for their constant support. The South Lake Tahoe Police Department’s partnership has been made possible by the many key players at the department. From the officers to the office staff, from the dispatchers to those keeping records and all serving and ensuring the public safety in our community, we are grateful for their shared commitment.
As a rabbi in this community, I am reminded of the prophetic call from the Book of Isaiah (58:7), that we are charged to bring shelter to the cast down poor. As we embrace this year, 2017, and the second year of the Warm Room project, it is my sincere hope that through this work our entire community is strengthened in part by knowing the innumerable ways we can all work together. Working as public servants, as private citizens, as local businesses and beyond, toward our shared outcomes impacts our entire community positively. Just as that conversation less than two years ago became a reality, we all know that it only takes this the first step!
As a member of the advisory council, I would like to also extend the invitation to the whole community at our open house event honoring Councilmember David on Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. The entire community is invited to join us at our Warm Room, located at 2179 Lake Tahoe Blvd. Together we can all make a difference in helping members of our community who need our support and continue building meaningful and lasting partnerships.
Evon Yakar has served as a rabbi at Temple Bat Yam: The South Lake Tahoe and Carson Valley Jewish Community since 2011.