Hello, my name is Craig Mesman. About two years ago, I walked from my home in Eureka down here to SLO. It was a faith walk of sorts. Shortly after the end of this walk, I found Sunny Acres and met Dan DeVaul. It was meant to be. I ended up volunteering there and then moved down here to live and volunteer at Sunny Acres for six months. I have lived here now for about 16 months and have made many lovely friends in this truly happy and beautiful place you call SLO Town! I have learned a tremendous amount and am extremely blessed.
I am now returning home up north to try to open a Sunny Acres-type place there with some friends. The need is just as significant there. There are many ways to try to address the homeless/addict/mental illness issues in our society, and I personally find Dan’s approach to be on the right track. While I write this, I don’t necessarily agree with everything Dan does, and some of you in the community may understand and know what I mean, but then again Dan confesses that he doesn’t always know just what he is doing either! How true for all of us! What Dan has chosen to undertake is an extremely daunting challenge, and it is one that sooner or later our society is going to have to fully engage and confront if it wishes to compassionately and successfully meet the homeless/addict/mentally ill challenge on our streets.
I don’t believe that all those who are homeless necessarily suffer from a societal injustice—but sometimes from a string of their own poor choices. However, we need to examine our own hearts and actions and apply the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” So do we do that for all, or some, or one of those we see on the streets? Dan is a complex and compelling character, but I challenge any one of you to find someone else who has opened up his own life, home, land, heart, and pocketbook like he has to people in need. I also challenge you to get to know him better, and better yet, to seek to understand the homeless/addict issue for yourself.
I have news for you: We all suffer to varying degrees from some sort of addiction. Mostly we are addicted to seeking our own will. So I leave with a heartfelt “thank you” to SLO and to all its wonderful people. May you retain your “happiest city in the U.S.” status, because you truly are a faithful, well-balanced, compassionate, loving family and community.