PICTURED: Kay Wilson-Bolton with volunteers at Spirit of Santa Paula in video presented to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors during “Moment of Inspiration” at meeting on July 21, 2020. Still from video.

by Kimberly Rivers


At the beginning of the July 21 meeting of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, Kay Wilson-Bolton of Santa Paula was recognized for her work with the homeless in Santa Paula. 

In the past year, Wilson-Bolton opened a seven-nights-a-week homeless shelter in a building donated by Naomi Pitcairn, of Santa Paula, and staffed with volunteers. 

Her “work is necessary, the work is compassionate and [her] love for community is unmatched,” said Kelly Long (Dist-3), board chair, in introducing the Moment of Inspiration agenda item. 

Wilson-Bolton joined the meeting via phone and shared that she was at Ventura County Food Share that morning getting food for that night’s shelter guests. “The best way to end homelessness is to prevent it,” she said, adding that the shelter was hosting 37 adults, three children and two dogs that night. Wilson-Bolton also said that operating the shelter during the pandemic has been challenging. “We are finding that we have strength we didn’t know we had. We are finding our best selves through this pandemic.” 

This is a “demonstration of true community,” said Dan Singer, Santa Paula City Manager, on a video played for the supervisors about Wilson-Bolton’s work. 

“We are in it for the long haul..our hearts are in it and our hands,” said Wilson-Bolton. “Wear your masks and brush your teeth before you put it on.” 

“I remember 600 weeks ago, somebody died in Santa Paula that was homeless, that so moved you to begin this effort,” said Supervisor Steve Bennett (Dist-1) “It still echoes in my head regularly…[when you said] this is going to be my life’s work…it truly is inspiring for all of us…what you’ve done with your life.” 

“Kay is a force of nature,” said Mike Powers, CEO of Ventura County. “It is amazing what one person can do to galvanize a whole community on the issue of homelessness.”