The year 2016 brought many changes to the world and not the least of them was the election of Donald Trump as President. Those in the communities of Los Osos, Morro Bay and Cayucos, California who were appalled at this outcome scurried around forming groups to counter the actions of extreme right-wing politics. At the same time these communities were struggling with an increase of unhoused people coming to the area. While homelessness was always present, it seemed that suddenly there were many unfortunate individuals, living on the ground and needing assistance. Services and assistance for seniors,
youth, and families were not well known.
It was at this time that Linda Quesenberry brought together a few friends who wanted to make a difference and formed Los Osos Cares in June of 2016. There was no office, no equipment, and little money, but this did not deter them. Their purpose was to make sure community members, especially the underprivileged, had access to information and referrals to organizations that offered help with employment, economic sustainability, health, housing, and transportation. Realizing that there might be little forthcoming from the federal government, they looked to state, county, and local groups and agencies and invited them to collaborate.
“We contacted service organizations, law enforcement, faith-based groups, Chambers, school districts, and local county and city governments,” Linda said, “and we met every two months on the second Thursday of the month at 9 A.M. at the South Bay Community Center,” These meetings were on topics that spoke to the needs of the communities, especially poverty, homelessness, affordable housing, health, transportation, and affordable activities for seniors and youth.
The idea was to serve everyone, families and adults, no matter age. “We needed it to be confidential, of course,” she emphasized, “and it had to be bilingual.”
Beginning in the town of Los Osos, the new nonprofit joined the Estero Bay Alliance for Care. However, assistance wasn’t only meant for residents of Los Osos. They wanted it to be far reaching and include Morro Bay and Cayucos. Quesenberry, who is a go-getter woman, brought together more than 34 organizations, groups, and agencies that became partners. Before long a space for an office came available at the former Sunnyside Grammar School and with donations and grants, the office was equipped and manned by volunteers.
The Los Osos Resource Center is available for anyone needing assistance. There are computer stations at the office for use by community members and helpful staff and volunteers are on hand for advice.
Current programs offered include a free community dinner every Thursday evening from 5 P.M. to 6 P.M. at the South Bay Community Center, many senior programs that help with services and resources, a warming center during cold and rainy months for individuals needing a place to sleep, and free laundry and detergent at a Morro Bay laundry every third Wednesday. Womenade Estero Bay, another nonprofit, is also available at the resource center and they assist with monetary help for anyone needing things like a utility to be paid or paying for needed medications. A lengthy resource list is available listing all the area organizations and agencies offering a variety of different types of assistance.
“What I first thought was going to be just a community coalition has grown into a full-service business,” Linda said, “and our assistance is reaching farther and wider than I ever imagined.”
There are many people throughout the country who wonder what they can do to foster peace and nonviolence at this difficult time in our world. Forming an organization that pulls together all the already existing organizations that aid marginalized people is one way for any community to create a culture of caring. You can follow the path that Los Osos Cares took and make a difference.
See www.losososcares.com for more information.