SAN DIEGO — CBS 8 reporter Ariana Cohen rode along in the Father Joe Villages van with the Street Health Team as they drove to homeless encampments on 16th and Imperial Avenue in downtown San Diego Tuesday morning.
Jenni Wilkens is a counselor on the team.
"I actually struggled with active addiction for 15 years. I'm no stranger to the despair and guilt and shame," said Wilkens.
Cohen joined Wilkens and the rest of the team while handing out bottled water, snacks and hygiene packs; something they normally do multiple days per week.
"We offer everything you can do in a primary clinic, we do outside," said Kristen Horney, Family Nurse Practitioner.
They also checked a man’s blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
"His blood pressure is 240 over 100 which is strokable. We advise them to go to the hospital if needed which they seldom do. We are able to refill his medication. He hasn’t taken them over a month," said a Street Health Team member.
Recently, the Street Health Team received a $30,000 donation of Kloxxado, an opioid reversal tool that helps save the lives of people struggling with substance abuse.
"They are good human beings who are facing challenges and they are not any less than us," said Horney.
They help people like Chadwick Woodward, who has been living on the streets for over a year.
"How have they helped me? We can go on for days about this. They supported me to get my head out of my behind and helped me with resources to do that. I look at them more than a Street Health Team, I call them sisters," said Woodward.
"There's been times we helped him to Father Joe's to get a meal. We've helped him medically with his wounds. There are some times it wasn’t a win, but we don’t give up and he knows that. He shares his wins with us. We will take the losses, but the wins are why we are out here," said a Street Health Team member.
"They brighten up your day. I appreciate them. They know that, I hope," said Woodward.
For Wilkens, this is a full circle moment.
"For 15 years, I'll never forget those people that told me I can do it and showed me a way out when I didn’t think there was one. To be in this position now and be that person that can provide some hope and some compassion; this is a dream job for me and there’s people who helped me and now I can be that person for someone," said Wilkens.
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