People of Santa Cruz: Maria Chavez

My name is Maria Chavez.


Once in a while, I do.

Like home invasion. Like having somebody come in your house. And I just remember I was scared.

I dream that me and my mom and my brother, we were at some construction stuff, and my brother was working across the way–he’s paralyzed, he’s quadriplegic–and he was doing drugs behind my mom’s back and I was like telling him stuff.

I’ve dreamed before that I was going down–it was like Santa Cruz Boulevard–there’s this kind of bump in it. It seemed I was in a convertible, and then we went over the bump and, like, just really jumped way up and way down.

Well, I mean, I used to have, like, big, ridiculous dreams,

I’ve never been to Montana, but like, someplace that’s green and I think like Scotland or Ireland would be beautiful. I would love to live in a castle and I would love to have Friesian horses. And I would love to take one part and make it big for all the as much abused animals as I could put, like dogs and cats, whatever, and just let them run, just throw food out there and let them be okay, you know,

I used to live on the street for a little like over ten years. And I would like to do stuff to help the people out there, like go and serve lunches sometimes or, you know, coffee, hot chocolate when it’s cold.

I was in that spot before and just do some things that could really help them.

If I had a bunch of money to actually make a documentary and I think it would be cool to make one.

I got house like two years ago with help, you know?

And so I have an apartment now right down the street from the park and but it was not easy. And people like my friends that I knew out there, I see them all the time. And they asked me, you know, how did you do it? Like, what did you do?

I feel like they want to think I have a secret knock and I’m hiding something.

It’s not. It’s just really hard and it’s different, you know?

When people ask me that, I try to say what I did, how I did it, you know, But I thought it would be kind of cool to make a documentary is like to go and just find somebody that’s homeless that seems very serious about getting, you know, housing of how to go about it in Santa Cruz and just go, okay, well, let’s see, what do you do?

First, let’s go to the shelter. You know, like ABC, go in the direction that they tell you to go. They tell you do this, you know, do everything they say and see. Does it really pan out if you if you really follow their directions and stuff? You know what I mean?

To see the steps and like how it turns out.

I started last December of 2022, working at the Homeless Garden Project showing you how to do skills like, you know, farming.

In the winter months, we make wreaths like Christmas trees, and we also do lotions and candles and that kind of thing.

We recently switched to like the farm part, which is that way on the west side of Santa Cruz.

We do all kinds of planting of different vegetables, all kinds of different things.

And we learn how to do that. And I’m new at it because, you know, the winter was kind of long this year.

They give you a social worker that’s just your social worker and they go through your personal things–it’s molded to the person. It’s not like this is straight across things. So you get to say the things that you want to personally work on.

It’s really nice to be able to see people make progress. And for the program to really work.

I like Santa Cruz. I do.

I mean, I loved Santa Cruz for just for logistics. I mean, we’ve got the ocean, got the mountains.

We are so spoiled with all the stuff here and me, I’m guilty also. And we still complain. It’s too hot, it’s too Cold River. But, you know, I don’t know if everybody else is, but I’m guilty of that sometimes. But we have it made in that department.

But I think sometimes, you know, the money goes the wrong way. It just depends who’s in charge of it. I think there’s people that are really doing stuff, really doing the right things to help the people and to help the to help this problem go in the right direction. You know, and I also I’ve come across people that seem like they make these rules that don’t make any sense.

I used to be, you know, associated with a lady at Encompass and she helped me through so many different things.

The two people that helped me the most, they didn’t have to help me because my caseworker, I don’t know, she quit or she got fired. She was gone one day and then they never gave me another one. And both those ladies I knew and they both offered to help me when they both had full caseloads. And I wasn’t on there. I wasn’t in the sections that they were responsible for. One of them was out of Watsonville, and she offered and that’s who helped me the most, you know.

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