Safety for Those Who Need It Most
New Beginnings Executive Director Kristine Schwarz swung into action after learning that a nursing home was about to release one of the nonprofit’s former clients – a U.S. Navy veteran with debilitating health issues – onto the street.
New Beginnings had helped the unhoused 59-year-old Santa Barbara native get off the streets at the beginning of the pandemic and eventually transition to independent living. When his case worker found him unconscious and unresponsive in his home, he was rushed to the emergency room and eventually to a nursing home for around-the-clock care. Even though the facility deemed him cognitively impaired and unable to take care of himself, they decided to release him to the streets.
“I called the ombudsman, community care licensing, public health department, adult protective services – then I called the social worker, and I said, ‘If you exit him, I’m going to have everybody I can find at your agency within the hour!’” Schwarz recalls.
The facility opted not to release him – a win for New Beginnings and Schwarz, who describes herself as “a fierce advocate” for those who don’t have anyone.
“The number of times I have walked into an apartment and found incredible illness and frailty where a person is unable to care for him or herself is more than I would like to think exists, but I don’t know of any other way to support our staff and understand the depth of need other than getting involved at that level,” says Schwarz, who has led the organization for 11 years. “All of our leadership and program staff triage at that level. We show up. We take care of very difficult cases.”
Since its inception over five decades ago, New Beginnings has remained a safety net for society’s most vulnerable: Those dealing with homelessness and severe and persistent mental health issues who cannot get help anywhere else.
Sometimes the hours are long and the work thankless, but Schwarz and her team press on. The mission “to provide quality, affordable counseling, shelter, case management, and education that strengthen our community and provide our clients with the ability to lead healthy and productive lives” remains their driving force.
New Beginnings offers several programs, including affordable counseling on a sliding scale to those who don’t otherwise have access, safe parking, and rapid rehousing for those temporarily living in their vehicles, and supportive services for veterans. Last year, the organization provided over $1 million in direct financial assistance to its clients. Through its various programs, the nonprofit served 1,435 individuals and helped 120 homeless secure housing.
(805) 963-7777 ext. 144
Executive Director: Kristine Schwarz
We provide mental health counseling to low-income community members and end homelessness for individuals, families, and veterans throughout Santa Barbara County. Through four core programs, we serve approximately 2,000 people each year.
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New Beginnings is a shiny gem among nonprofits in our community. Their cost effective counseling programs have stood the test of time for more than fifty years. The Safe Parking Program for the homeless was the first of its kind and now widely replicated elsewhere. More recently, they are closing in on the elimination of veteran homelessness, a long elusive goal. No matter the program, they are remarkably effective in helping its many low-income and needy clients lead healthy and productive lives.
Your Donations Help Veterans Stay Safe and Housed
New Beginnings is grateful for the grants and community donations to open its new, more efficient collaborative center last summer. But as the agency expands its services and takes on more staff, funding is still needed to support the growth of its work for all of its far ranging and desperately needed programs, including administrative and management staffing, equipment, training – all of which isn’t covered by government grants.
MFT, Psy.D, President
Dan Engel, Vice President
Mark Cardona, J.D., Secretary
Ziad Elkurjie, Treasurer
Steve Baird, Member
Suzanne Grimmesey, MFT,
Stasia Huiner, M.B.A. Member
Kathryn Keene, Member
Karen Kelly, Member
Diane Pannkuk, M.B.A., Member
Warren B. Ritter II, Member
Scott Sanford, Member