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Woman launches fundraising campaign for homeless, elderly man
Carolyn Day drives Pacific Coast Highway every day on her way from her Topanga Canyon home to her children’s school in Malibu. She had seen the small encampment behind the Big Rock retaining wall and the ragged old man who lived there “a hundred times” before she stopped.
“I was on my way to dropping off the kids at school, it was rainy and windy and something tugged at my heart, so I stopped the car,” Day told the Malibu Surfside News.
That’s how Day met Sebastian, an 80-year-old homeless man who was wrapped in wet clothes with only a soiled bed sheet and a plastic bag for warmth and shelter.
Day offered the man food and dry clothes. She kept returning, bringing shoes, plastic tarps, an umbrella, hot food.
“I couldn’t let it go,” Day said. “Once I knew he was there, dying, I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake all night.”
Day contacted a social worker friend who helped her connect with the Malibu Homeless Outreach Team.
“They were there within hours,” Day said, “but they couldn’t help right away.”
No beds were available at any of the shelters, and Sebastian would be required to wait three days for a tuberculosis test before he could be admitted anywhere.
Day, fearing that Sebastian would die from exposure, called an ambulance and got him to a hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia and released. When Day explained the situation to the hospital staff, they allowed Sebastian to spend the night in a wheelchair in the waiting room, but he left before Day could return with help.
Day spent hours searching Santa Monica for him. She found Sebastian after the security guard at the hospital spotted him and reported the sighting to the hospital.
“The head nurse called me,” Day said. “If the hospital staff hadn’t gone above and beyond, Sebastian would have died.”
Day arranged for Sebastian to be picked up by the social workers, who found shelter for him for the night.
“It was the first time in eight years he had slept in a bed,” Day said.
Sebastian turned 80 on Jan. 20. With the help of the Malibu Homeless Outreach Team, he is now at a shelter, but he still needs help. Day said he has an untreated depressed fracture of the skull and other medical issues.
She’s started a crowdsourcing campaign to help fund his medical treatment and supply an advocate who can help him get the care he needs. As of Monday, Feb. 6, the campaign had reached $2,080.
“There are no resources for homeless elderly who require care,” Day said. “The amount of energy needed to get out of homelessness is almost impossible for an individual like Sebastian on their own.”
Sebastian’s situation is complicated by the fact that he is an undocumented immigrant, who lived and worked in California for decades but has no documentation.
“His only possession is his bible,” Day said.
One of her goals is to see if she can locate Sebastian’s family.
“He knows he had family,” Day said. “He had a brother in Chicago, but he doesn’t remember how to find him.”
Day explained that there is a window of opportunity for Sebastian to receive ongoing care through the county health system, but he requires a caregiver to accompany him.
“I want to raise enough money to help him navigate the county health system,” she said. “If he was our parent we wouldn’t want him to be abandoned. It’s a job not done.”
Day says her experience with Sebastian has changed her perspective on the local homeless population. She’s begun handing out dry socks and T-shirts and large black plastic garbage bags, together with contact information for the Malibu Homeless Outreach Team.
“It takes everybody working together to solve this problem,” Day said.
Day wants everyone in the community to be aware that there are two buses available every day during rainy season to transport homeless people to shelter in town. She encourages anyone who encounters a homeless person in need to contact the Malibu Homeless Outreach Team at (310) 460-2638.
Malibu residents interested in participating in Day’s fundraising campaign can learn more at www.crowdrise.com/80-year-old-homeless-man-needs-help/fundraiser/carolynday2.