Oakland service agencies seek protection

April 11, 2008 6:45:12 PM PDT
They're having trouble providing services to seniors and the disabled who live in violence-plagued neighborhoods.

They even have to bring food to some needy families, because they are too frightened to leave their homes.

The drastic steps many social service workers are taking as they venture into dangerous neighborhoods.

"They started shooting and I just opened the door to go out and they started shooting I just closed the door and came back inside," said one Oakland grandmother.

This grandmother of nine wants to remain anonymous. She's lived in a West Oakland neighborhood for the past five years where she says shootings are a normal occurrence.

"It's scary, it scary especially when I saw this young lady get killed. I just never saw anything like that," said the grandmother.

She hardly ever leaves the house and when she does, it's only early in the morning never at night when much of the violence starts.

She gets her food delivered from local markets. She can't call for take out because they won't deliver to her neighborhood.

Mike Y is her social worker. He's with Oakland's Family Support Services. He's careful about timing his visits to her home.

"I normally try to schedule my visits in the morning before the gangsters wake up," said Mike Yi from Family Support Services.

Some Oakland social workers have had to re-schedule or cancel visits to clients because of violence in certain trouble neighborhoods.

Oakland's Family Support Services is a non-profit agency provides food, youth counseling and many other services to clients all over the East Bay.

They know violence is a problem and now go into the field equipped with emergency devices.

They carry a handheld panic alarm and they also carry whistles and a cell phone at all times.

Program director Donna Moore says the job calls for a lot of common sense.

"We tell them to follow their gut. If it feels right to you good, if it doesn't come back," said Donna Moore from Family Support Services.

Unlike federal social workers who can call on federal police or marshals to make house calls, community social workers are on their own.

We tried to contact the Alameda County Social Services Department to see if there was any way to ensure uninterrupted services to Oakland residents, but were told spokes people were not available.


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