January 2020 Newsletter

Notes From The President

                  Welcome to the new year! I hope your year-end holidays were wonderful. I want to start this year by thanking you for your ongoing support, dues, and donations. This is how we make our neighborhood a little nicer and a little better….spreading the wealth and joy does not mean massive fundraising or extreme commitments of your time and energy.

            Thanks to SONA member dues and personal donations, we were able to provide the clients of San Jose’s OWL (see pg 3) program holiday gift bags. There are two OWL locations (Roosevelt and Bascom Libraries) that serve as overnight shelters for homeless.

            Residents and staff from the community center and HomeFirst decorated and held a Thanksgiving dinner for clients in November. When asked, we decided to level up for Christmas and tied into a planned Christmas Eve dinner. Dinner was supplemented by food donations and sweet treats.

Each client at the OWLs received a string backpack that is easy to sling over shoulder or handlebars and has a reflective strip on it to increase nighttime visibility.  The backpacks had goodies like candy, power bars, and fruit. They also contained much needed essentials. They were stuffed with a warm hat, socks, flashlights, and hygiene products. 

Enough donations came in to serve both locations, so that was more than 60 bags! We received a late call from homeless advocates that 15 people who live along the creek behind Roosevelt would also be there, and managed to make sure they, too, had goodie bags. More than 75 people received gifts from you this year. Thank you.

Does it solve the homeless problems? No. Does it make life a little nicer for a short time? Yes, for both the givers and receivers. 

We have ice cream socials, art projects and other events to plan and launch this year. We will need your help to make sure this all gets done. Join our board, volunteer for a project and show up for meetings. Your voice matters and we need your help to make this a great place to live, work and play.

See you at the meeting…..Randi

Friends of Bascom Library Book Sale

Saturday, February 8 10am-2pm

Bascom Library, 1000 S Bascom Ave

            Friends of Bascom Library is a volunteer organization that collects gently used books, CDs and DVDs throughout the year. Every quarter they conduct a sale and donate the proceeds to programming for the library. This allows our local branch to host programs for young and old that enrich, educate and entertain. 

            The Friends Nook is located on the left side of the library entryway. You can browse there any day the library is open and purchase books. You can also drop off books for the library sales. The volunteers maintain the rotating collection and sort by genre. The collection at the library represents a small fraction of the total inventory you will find at the sale. 

            Add to your personal library, buy books for others or contribute to the little free libraries you see around your neighborhood. These are great books at bargain prices. You can also take advantage of the $5 per bag sale that begins at 1pm. Credit and debit cards accepted.

            If you are looking for a great community service project or a volunteer opportunity, the FOBL could use your help. Sorting the books for the sale will take place Friday evening and there’s always a need to help pack up after the sale. Events and activities are posted on Facebook, so look for Friends of Bascom Library there. Join the board and you can be part of bringing these great programs to your neighborhood.

Census 2020 – April 1

            The decennial census is mandated by the Constitution of the United States. This isn’t voluntary, it isn’t an option to respond. Everybody living in the United States must be counted, whether you were born here, are on a short-term visit, have entered the country legally or not. Your status as a resident or citizen does not matter, counting you does. And, that means counting you if you’re in a hospital or nursing home or if you’re on vacation. If you live in a mansion, under a freeway overpass, or in your car, counting you matters. If you sleep in your office, live in a motorhome and are not in a traditional residential dwelling, you need to be counted. 

            While the main reason for the census was to determine how many representatives are sent to Washington DC, there are any number of things that can affect your life based on the census. District boundaries will change, so your representatives on school boards, commissions, city council, county supervisors and more could change. How much money is disbursed for schools, hospitals, health care, roads, transit and public safety depends on the census. Income analyses of the census determine how our social services are supported and how communities qualify for additional supportive funds.

            Major changes have been made regarding how census information will be collected this year. In March 2020, households will be receiving postcards that outline how you can fill out your census information online. The expectation is most people will find an internet connection and submit their form electronically. Multiple languages will be available as will access to language services. In addition, a small army of people will be knocking on doors to collect information when it appears the household has been missed. 

            The Census needs your help and is willing to pay. Santa Clara County workers will be paid $27-$30 per hour for basic field and office work. Supervisors will be paid more. Each census tract (think about five blocks from you in any direction) needs a worker, especially bilingual workers. Applying for jobs must be done online at the main website https://2020census.gov/en.html

            If you would like more information, would like to have a presentation made to a group or organization, would like materials for your school, office or other area, visit the website at https://2020census.gov/en.html and see how the 2020 Census will work. There are even census related games!

Bascom Overnight Warming Location (OWL)

            The Bascom OWL located in the community room on the ground floor at the Bascom Library and Community Center is about half way through the winter program. This site houses 30 people overnight, providing a place to sleep, an evening meal, showers and a breakfast the next morning. This program is administered through HomeFirst with city funds.

            While clients are supposed to be referred by an agency or are expected to self-refer and fill out forms, low turn-out in the beginning allowed people to enter as walk in clients. This has raised the numbers to near capacity every night. 

            SONA’s president, along with local business people and FOBL members meet monthly with staff to review procedures and activities. Our primary concerns are to ensure the safety of everybody who visits or uses the site. In addition, we want to track how effective this program can be in moving people out of homelessness. Our last meeting raised the issue of true cost for this project. Our community center is fee based and depends on revenues for operations. The community center has seen a drastic reduction in revenues and the adjacent café (which is a private business) has had to reduce hours. 

The More You Know…Election Season

In case you’ve missed all the ads and discussion and lawn signs and flyers, it’s an election year. The best thing you can do at no cost to help our neighborhood is to vote, especially in local elections.

  • All information regarding elections can be found at www.sccgov.org and typing ROV into the search bar. This will take you to the Registrar of Voters home page. You can also call by 866.430.VOTE(8683)
  • Always check your registration status; people have been accidently removed from voter rolls. Have you moved in the last year or two? Check your party affiliation because that determines who you may vote for in primaries.
  • Vote by Mail (VBM)ballots are free! No wondering how much postage. They can also be dropped off at any time at the Registrar of Voters (ROV) and at any open polling station along with dozens of sites across the county once ballots are distributed, including libraries, city buildings and campuses. You can request VBM status as late as February 25, but don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Didn’t file for VBM? No problem. You can vote at the ROV 29 days before any election and vote, no matter where you live in the county. In addition, there will be centers across the county to accommodate you if you live here and work an hour away; check the website. These centers will be open for 11 days leading up to the election day.
  • Our primary elections are March 3, 2020! We are not waiting for June anymore, so you must be registered by February 18, 2020. California has a top-two system. Races that are not party dependent (special districts, city council, etc) automatically take the top two vote getters into a November run-off (unless one candidate receives more than 50% of the votes).
  • If you are registered to vote, you should have sample ballots and materials by mid-February. If you don’t, contact the ROV.
  • Think you’re registered to vote but your name isn’t there when you show up? You can always ask for a provisional ballot. 
  • Forgot to register? California allows same day registration!
  • Want to help support democracy and have some free time? The ROV wants you! They are looking for both paid and volunteer workers to staff the voting centers and to work on election day.

SONA Board at Work

            SONA has finally received notification our #BeautifySJ grant is being awarded! This will help us supplement our funds to provide activities, events and outreach. While we are trying to move to electronic outreach, this grant helps pay for newsletters, meetings and outreach materials. Most exciting is we can get started on our Art Box project! We hold a yearly ice cream social, neighborhood litter pick-ups and more. We can start working on other events. Our grant requires matching funds and volunteer hours (see SONA Needs You below). 

            SONA, along with Buena Vista and Thornton/Downing met with Valley Medical Center (VMC) and Supervisor Ellenberg’s office regarding the increase in homeless and mentally or medically fragile people that have been observed in higher numbers. We can easily identify the connection to VMC when we see people walking around in hospital scrubs or socks and/or wearing hospital wristbands. Our concern is the vulnerability of these patients, especially in inclement weather. In addition, our neighborhoods should not be ground zero for people in distressed states.  During our first meeting we discussed the impact on our library and community center and the policies in place for safe discharge of patients. We have requested a one-stop phone number for reporting homeless who appear to be mentally or mentally fragile and tracking of a response to those calls. We have requested data they gather regarding needs of patients beyond basic medical and how social service needs are met. 

The need for these meetings was reinforced on Christmas Eve when a patient wandered to the Bascom OWL shoeless, in scrubs, hospital socks and nothing else. It had rained in the previous hour, the weather was in the low 40’s and the patient had discharge papers in hand, dragging along a plastic bag of possessions. 

            The proposed reconfiguration of Fruitdale, along with new pavement and striping is in the city’s 2020 budget and work plan. Community meeting coming soon, so stay tuned. For those of you who are new to this project, the proposal is to have a single lane in each direction, a two-way left turn lane, bike lanes and enhanced safety crossing areas. This will reduce speed and increase safety. It will create safe passage for our students and reduce the danger in left turns that halt traffic in one lane. Getting out of our neighborhood streets should be easier with turn lanes and no stopping zones. These measures have been put into place elsewhere, forcing cut through traffic onto larger feeder streets. 

            Are you having odd WiFi and Bluetooth interference? Some of our neighbors have reported that they are having odd problems with appliances turning themselves off or on and operating erratically. If this is a problem for you, let us know and we will put you in touch with others. Perhaps this will help identify a problem area and isolate the problems. 


  • We need volunteers to help distribute newsletters each month. If you can spend an hour walking around your part of the neighborhood, let us know. 
  • We need volunteers for events and activities. Want to help with an art box project or an ice cream social? Want to help bring educational or informational or fun things to our meetings? Even helping us set up and tear down at a meeting would be great.
  • Want to help drive projects and programs? Become a board member. We meet once a month to share the load. We could also use website help. 
  • Can you help financially? Our dues are only $15 per year, so we are going to be asking you to contribute what you can for ongoing neighborhood projects. Having a grant does not mean we have enough money to do all the projects. Help sponsor our events and activities. You can mail us a check or go online and donate. We have a lot of exciting things coming up this year; each contribution helps us offset costs.