My team and I are in outreach on the streets and are deeply concerned about the number of homeless people, including families, entering into our parks, city dwellings, hospitals and beaches. More new faces, who were formerly housed but now cannot afford local rents, have also poured into their cars and our parks. We are in a crisis.

People complain about panhandling and hurting businesses, but little to nothing is being done that can affect them for the long term. They cost citizens millions of dollars per year. The key is work. It builds self-worth and is not a hand out but a hand up.

My team and I decided to bring a few people who have changed all this for their own city. On Thursday, Apr. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Marjorie Luke Theatre we will present two speakers; Eileen Richardson of Palo Alto and her Downtown Street Teams will share how she created jobs for the homeless population in her city. Her successful techniques have been adopted by seven other cities as well. They must be doing something right!

The other speaker will be Richard Le Mieux, author of Breakfast at Sally’s, who was a wealthy businessman who lost it all and became homeless. He will explain his experience and how a chance to work could have prevented his spiraling down. His book is becoming a movie soon.

If we want to have effective change, then support this effort by coming to listen to what others have accomplished. There might be something in it for our city and county. It’s a free event with free parking. A few hours of your time may be life altering for thousands of homeless in our community.

Deborah Barnes is with Life Saver Services of Santa Barbara.