The August 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Psychiatric Drugs: Assault on the Human Condition

Review of Mad In America

An Interview with Author of Mad In America

Homelessness and Psychiatric Abuse

Electroshock Must Be Banned

Zyprexa: A Prescription for Disease & Death

The Dangers of Antidepressants

Mental Health Policy: Humane or Reactionary?

Ghosts of the Albany Landfill

Berkeley Haven for Homeless Families

Franciscans for Peace and Justice

Ten Flaws of Social Security Privatization

CAFTA and Colonization

Spirit of St. Mary's Center

Life Stories of Homeless Seniors

Disabled Bus Rider's Hardships

Union Debates Sleeping Ban in Santa Cruz


July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

A Haven for Homeless Families in Berkeley

by Janny Castillo, BOSS

Kathryn Lundeen and her daughter Lindsey live at Sankofa House. Lydia Gans photo

Transitional houses are the next step out of the shelter for homeless families. They provide long-term assistance in giving individuals an opportunity to build job skills, go to school and address issues that have caused their homelessness. Sankofa House, a BOSS transitional program, opened it doors in February 2005, and now has seven families that call it home.

Nikki Sachs, LCSW, is the family services coordinator for Sankofa House. She described what a family needs to qualify for a shared-living apartment. "Families with drug and alcohol problems must have at least six months sobriety and be referred from another shelter or from a drug and alcohol program. They must also be homeless and have an income."

Nikki said the families are adjusting to the new program. "Unlike other transitional houses where new families had a community to step into, at Sankofa everyone is new. People are beginning to feel more at home now and more relaxed. They are forming a community that is showing an interest in supporting each other."

Some of the challenges include how to settle disagreements in the shared-living environment. "Different cleaning and cooking styles have caused conflicts, but the end result is families learning valuable shared living skills which, due to the lack of affordable housing, could prove very valuable," she said.

Kelly Glover, her 4-year-old twins and her 10-year-old daughter were one of the first families to enter the program. "I really like it at Sankofa," Kelly said. "I like the apartment and programs they have for the kids. I attended a class on Conscious Parenting which was very good."

Kelly is enrolling in Berkeley Adult School to get her GED and then she plans to attend Laney College where she wants to start her Drug and Alcohol training. "I want to be a counselor and give back to my community," she said.

For the last six months, Kelly has been going to court to finalize the open adoption of her youngest son. "The adoptee parent allows me to visit but I am still trying to process his loss," she said.

Kelly's daughter shared her thoughts about Sankofa. "It's nice because of my friends. I get to play double-dutch and the other kids are helping me read better."

"It's a good place to come to, and to get help to better your lives and get yourselves together," Kelly said. "But you have to really want it to work."

Kathryn Lundeen and her 6-year-old daughter Lindsey relocated to Berkeley from Oregon. A tragic car accident took her husband's life when Lindsey was only six months old. It was very difficult for the young mother and daughter to cope.

"I was working a graveyard shift and another job during the day and taking care of Lindsey," Kathryn said. Mentally and physically exhausted, she reached a point where she couldn't go on. She lost her housing and went in search of help.

Kathryn applied for housing at Sankofa House: "I was really attracted to Sankofa because it is a green house and I am sensitive about the environment that my daughter is living in. Everybody here is very kind and helpful. When people work together, a lot gets accomplished."

Kathryn is not only sensitive about the environment; she wants to make it her life's work. She works for a clothing store that sells mostly natural fibers.

Looking back on her situation, she said: "If I had known that there were resources to help me, I probably would not have lost my house."

The Harrison House Family Shelter sits beside Sankofa House, which means more children on site. With 20 or more kids and parents attending wellness groups and other services, BOSS hired more staff to offer tutoring, child care, art classes and recreational activities for the children and a prevention specialist for the parents.

Sankofa House is a resource and a safe place for homeless families. BOSS Executive Director boona cheema is designing a program that adapts to meet their needs. On July 17, she hosted a family day where the parents from three transitional houses came together to share their ideas on self-sufficiency, personal wellness, and what services were needed in the transitional program.

If you are a family in need of help or would like to make a donation, please call Nikki Sachs at (510) 549-0778.

1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303

E-mail: Spirit

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Editor : Terry Messman

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