2017 housing heroes nominations

Career Achievement Nominees

Alfred Trujillo
During his time as PATH Homeless Coordinator Case Manager for Kings View, Alfred has successfully placed over half of his clients into safe housing.  Alfred has grown great partnerships with room and board landlords in Kings County to assist with those who need housing.

Angela Corona
As a Housing Specialist for the San Joaquin Valley Veterans, Angela has worked tirelessly to advocate for people experiencing homelessness in Kings and Tulare Counties. Angela is constantly making connections with property owners and property management companies to establish trusting relationships in order to help end veteran homelessness.

Betty Luna
Betty works for the Family Crisis Center as the Director of Shelter Operations.  She has been an advocate for victims of domestic violence and experiencing homelessness.

Denise Marchant
Denise is one of the founding members of the Kings/Tulare Continuum of Care. She worked tirelessly to bring Project Homeless Connect to the City of Porterville, and was instrumental in receiving funding for this project.


Joey Cox
Joey oversees the Barbara Saville Emergency Shelter, Crisis Support Center and the HUD/Every Door Open program.  During his tenure as Director of IPSS he has written grants and has implement programs like HUD/EDO Rapid Re-Housing to further and improve the lives of homeless families in Kings County.

Nanette Villarreal
Nanette Villarreal - Nanette has been a housing hero since early 2000 when she worked to help launch the Kings/Tulare Continuum of Care. As the executive director of Kings United Way, she has been a constant force and support for agencies and individuals working to find solutions to end homelessness.

Nathan Terry
As the director of the Lighthouse Rescue Mission in Tulare, Nathan has helped many homeless folks by providing warm food, clothing, resume building workshops, and job search assistance.  He is a regular participant in Tulare’s annual Project Homeless Connect and continues to work effortlessly to help those in need.

In Appreciation Nominees

Candido Alvarez
Lieutenant Alvarez is an amazing example of how law enforcement can work with homeless service providers and facilitators.  He has led efforts in Visalia to work with individuals on the streets who are experiencing homelessness and coordinates a team of professionals trying to keep our community safe while also showing compassion for those on the streets. 

Erica Sanchez
As the Lead Advocate for the San Joaquin Valley Veterans, Erica has demonstrated leadership and commitment by developing and promoting financial, political and community support that create solutions to prevent and end homelessness among our homeless veterans.

Nate Henry
Nate has been a noteworthy Visalia Police Officer and has create been able to create connections with the homeless in hopes of informing the homeless of various resources and assistance that is available to help them become self-sufficient again.

Mary Anne Ford-Sherman
Mary Anne has been a strong advocate for the homeless in the Kings County and has supported the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), Project Homeless Connect, and the Point in Time (PIT) homeless census. 

Supportive Housing Participant Nominees

Corinna Franco

Corinna entered the Permanent Supportive Housing Program after being on the streets of Visalia, CA. for a very long time. With many barriers that would be difficult to escape and a past that hindered her ability to move forward, she did not let it consume her.

After some time, Corinna began to understand that her past traumatic experiences overshadowed her ability to be mentally healthy and happy so she bravely made the decision to schedule a mental health assessment. The assessment revealed that she had many underlying issues and was accepted as a patient at Adult Mental Health. The help she received there has forever changed her life.

Her ability to sympathize has opened up the doors to discovering her passion, helping others. Corinna's story has resonated across the lives of women living here in Visalia and helped them realize that change is possible. She is an open book and will share her story in hopes that it will help others facing similar obstacles reach out for help. Corinna recently completed her probation and set off to find employment.

She is currently working for a women’s shelter in Visalia as an overnight coordinator as well as a sales associate at a local sports shop. She is motivated to get her life back on track with an overall goal to one day purchase her own home. There is no doubt in our minds that Corinna will accomplish everything she has set out to do and more.

Rodney Heterbrink

Rodney was living at the Visalia Rescue Mission dealing with chronic health issues that were hard to manage due to lack of stability. He was housed through the Visalia PSH program and was set on prioritizing his health. Although he was seeking help with his it did not seem to improve. Rodney took it upon himself to research his conditions. He decided to communicate his findings and concerns and pushed for further testing. Rodney's instincts were unfortunately on the correct track, thyroid cancer was the root cause of his discomfort. Rodney was proscribed medication as well as chemotherapy. He had his second and last cancer treatment in March of 2017 and was recently given news that he is cancer free.

Rodney always kept his unit immaculate, paid his rent on time, attended life skills classes, and made it to his medical appointments in spite of any struggles to do so. He became eligible to receive a Section 8 voucher and after help with the property management he was currently able to find his own spacious 2 bedroom unit in Visalia. He is happy in his new home and proud of his budgeting skills.

Today, Rodney is still cancer free but managing his other chronic health issues. Rodney is still going to doctors and has spoken up about the importance of communicating all concerns when it relates to one’s health. His main goal is to be as healthy as possible so that he can one day move to Washington. His dream is to live in the country side close to nature where he can fish on his free time. Rodney has been a true fighter who has never given up.


Leonard Cruz

Leonard came to Casa De Robles 2 after living on the streets for over thirteen years. He was a man many people in the community knew, cared for and were pulling for. Leonard was hesitant to accept housing for many months prior to moving into his apartment, fearing the conditions that might be put on him having access to housing. Finally, in March 2016 he moved into his apartment with only the contents of his rolling cart.

Leonard spent his days sitting on the steps of the apartment complex, greeting anyone who passed by with a smile. Since then, he has adjusted to living indoors, spruced up his wardrobe, become more social with other participants, increased his productivity during the day, and has maintained his apartment.

Leonard is a true example of why we do this work. Having a place to call home has made it possible for him to focus less on survival and more on the joys of life. He truly is an inspiration to so many, an amazing example of perseverance and an incredible story of success.

Pamela Heath

Pamela is an inspiration to many. She has overcome so much adversity in her life and has fought to provide a safe home for herself and her son. Pamela has been willing to share her story with others with the hopes of inspiring them to live their dreams and to support programs that help facilitate that possibility. Family Services of Tulare County recently featured a snapshot about Pamela in their agency annual report.

After finding shelter at Karen’s House one day for her and her son, her life has never been the same. Seeking the shelter to leave a long term physically abusive marriage she ended up changing her life forever. She has since graduated from Visalia Adult School and is now enrolled at College of the Sequoias with a double major. One of her goals is to use her passion for the theater to empower others.

Pamela is a living example of what perseverance can do for someone who had found themself living a life they never imagined. Her ability to not only continue pushing through life as a single mom but also work toward her life goals while doing it is such an amazing thing to watch.


Millie (Milagro) Perez

In August 2015 she entered Hannah’s House with her then 3 year old grandson. She left Hannah’s House a year later and entered the Barbara Saville Emergency Shelter. She remained there for less than 2 months. During that time she was able to secure a job at Goodwill Industries in Hanford and found a place to live in in Lemoore. Things were going well until Goodwill closed and she lost her job.

KCAO was able to assist her to stay in her apartment and Millie was able to find another part-time job as a client Facilitator/Supervisor at Hannah’s House. Although she works sometimes thirty or more hours a week, she has another part-time job as a personal care provide for her disabled sister. Millie was able to relocate in January 2017 to a low income apartment complex in Hanford easing her financial situation.

Millie has not given up and is working toward re-enrolling in Hanford Adult School to her diploma. She continues to be a true inspiration and role model for other women who have ever been in her situation. She is the true definition of an overcomer. Her story is not only a “success story” but also an amazing story of a woman who got up and pushed forward. Millie hopes to move up the ladder at Champions and/or Hannah’s House once she improves her educational skills.

Willie Dixon

Willie has been a true trailblazer in the Permanent Supportive Housing Program. He entered the program directly from the Visalia Rescue Mission which was his only stable home for a long time. His limited income and deteriorating health were major factors that contributed to his homelessness. Once housed, Willie was committed to getting his health back in shape. He was able to have a much needed knee surgery and physical therapy.

With his health back on track, Willie enrolled in art classes from the local senior centers, became a student at the Visalia Adult School and decided to utilize the Literacy Center to learn how to read and write. Willie is now able to read the morning newspaper and understands what is being communicated in the letters he receives. His growth has been an honor to witness.

Currently, Willie has been approved to receive a Section 8 voucher through the Housing Authority. He has been restlessly searching for a unit that he can call his forever home. With perseverance and a lot of help from his community, Willie will be entering into a lease for a 2 bedroom unit that is located in a safer area. His dream is to start his ceramic business to bring in a little more income and to one day graduate from the adult school. His main goal is to attend the local college and obtain a degree. Willie has been an outstanding participant and community member who has proved that programs like these truly work.


Joseph Rummerfield

Joseph has not only recovered from addiction but he also remains helping other that struggle. He is involved in the community giving speeches about his life of homelessness and addiction to encourage others. Joseph is an inspiration that anyone can be victorious in overcoming barriers.

Joseph is currently receiving SSI income and is a very productive member of society. He is enjoying life more now than ever. Joseph is a man that has light at the end of his tunnel and can see it. His life has and will never be the same.

Shavon Willis

Shavon is a survivor of domestic violence. She had the courage to reach out for help and was in an Emergency Shelter for safety. When Shavon arrived at the shelter, she struggled because she had always depended on an individual that was extremely abusive. Shavon was able to get connected to different resources for assistance while residing at the shelter.

Shavon was ecstatic when she received a call from Kelly, the Rapid Re-housing Case Manager, advising her that she been referred to Salvation Army. After a month and a half of encouragement, support, transporting her to rental units and talking with Property Management Companies, Shavon was successfully housed in September of 2016.

Shavon has always shown how grateful she is for the support, encouragement and hard work the Staff has provided to her by both the Shelter as well as Rapid Re-Housing Program. She continues to work hard for herself and her children and is thriving in her new apartment.

Supportive Housing Provider Nominees

Ali Johansen
Ali of West Valley Properties has gone above and beyond to rent to many homeless Veterans in the Kings County area.

Ali Johansen & Carole Verboon
Ali Johansen and Carole Verboon of West Valley Properties has shown an ongoing commitment to working with the Rapid Re-housing clients from both KCAO and Salvation Army programs to provide permanent housing solutions for our homeless population. 

King County Housing Support Program
The Housing Support group is made up of Eligibility and Employment and Training staff that assist clients with temporary and permanent housing. They assisted 122 families in the first 12 months and 28 families with arrears to prevent eviction. Staff is responsible for locating available housing, advocating to landlords, providing classes on how to obtain & retain housing, and financial budgeting.

Jody Ketcheside & Nancy Palafox
Together Jody and Nancy from Turning Point of Central California have worked with very challenging consumers and they are very patient with the critical issues that arise. They go above and beyond in assisting participants with life skills and resources.

Joey Cox
In addition to overseeing 24-hour shelter services in Kings County, Joey manages multiple housing programs to assist the homeless. Joey is ALWAYS a team player and willing to partner with other agencies to bring needed services to our community.

Nancy Palafox
Nancy has been the Case Manager at Casa de Robles 2 and Kings PSH for the last three years, providing on site case management to eleven chronically homeless individuals.

Randy DeShazier
As a property owner, Randy has made himself available to his Rapid Rehousing tenants and their case managers to keep those tenants permanently housed. 

Rocio Duran
As the first case manager for CSET’s PSH, Rocio has worked to identify landlords willing to rent to the homeless population.  She has established a baseline for CSET to assist clients to qualify for social security disability assistance and has helped develop best practices to motivate and encourage participants to attend mental health appointments or doctor appointments. 

Unsung Hero Nominees

Angela Castellanos
Angela is an unsung hero to many. She has passionately served the homeless veterans of Kings and Tulare County with Westcare. She not only leads by example and loves what she does but she also gives her clients hope.

Angela Corona
Angela goes above and beyond to find the perfect place for our homeless veterans and their families. She continues to work hard to find and build relationship with landlords. Her work at San Joaquin Valley Veterans is not only necessary but also very needed and appreciated.

Pastor Bobby Guerra
Pastor Bobby has dedicated himself to his community for the last seventeen years. He makes himself, his staff and his church available to make PHC happen every year since 2010. He is always willing to help others without accepting any credit for what he does. He is dedicated and committed to public services in Kings County.

David Clevenger
David took on an ailing homeless men’s facility and has worked extremely hard to keep the facility operational, as well as, expanding services to an overnight shelter for homeless men. Kings Gospel Mission is forever thankful for the work he has done.

David Manville
David has true compassion and drive to help those in need. He was once a homeless Veteran, but turned his life around and overcame every obstacle thrown his way. He is living proof that things really can change for the better and is a living example to everyone he helps.

In his professional life he works as a Case Manager for Central California Family Crisis Center (CCFCC) permanent supportive housing program for the chronically homeless. He has done an excellent job in making partnerships with the landlords and property owners of the buildings that are used to house.

Deirdre “Dee” Fiscus
Dee goes above and beyond for placing, feeding and caring for the homeless. Her work at PATH is not only seen but greatly appreciated.

Deirdre "Dee" Fiscuss and Arturo Duron
As part of the Kings View PATH Program Street Outreach, together they have exhibited a strong team effort in providing services to the chronically homeless clients throughout the Tulare County. 

They work tirelessly out in the field to reach out to those in need, linking and referring them to vital resources such as obtaining identification, funding that they are eligible for such as SSI, food benefits, medical and mental health services, Veteran’s benefits and permanent and temporary housing.

Dr. Jeffrey Garcia
Dr. Jeffrey has participated in Hanford’s Project Homeless Connect since 2009, providing vision screenings to all homeless. Not only has he participated at eleven of their events but he also closes his practice to do it. His commitment to serve homeless individuals is beyond admirable.

Jim Barnes
Jim Barnes has been an unsung hero to the community since before he was an Elementary School Teacher in Visalia, CA. Since his retirement he has happily and voluntarily repaired uncounted amounts of bicycles for the homeless.

Jovita Cruz,
Jovita runs the Kings County Housing Support Program and has developed an amazing rapport with several landlords in her community. She advocates for our customers in meeting their housing needs and has housed over 95 families since April 2016.

Kirk Mills
Kirk was homeless for many years himself. It is because of that that he shows such gentleness and patience towards the homeless. He focuses on the whole of an individual’s mental, emotional and spiritual life, as well as their physical needs. He is a blessing to many.

Lupe Diaz
Lupe was the coordinator for the first seven years of the annual Project Homeless Connect event in Porterville. She has selflessly dedicated her life and time to serve the less fortunate for many years. Her love for God is shown through her love for people.

Michelle Medina
Michelle has worked hard to identify families in need of housing in Kings County. She has touched and enriched the lives of her clients as a Case Manager with KCAO. She has shown ongoing initiative, leadership and dedication to her work and the community.

Mike Hopper
Mike is a veteran, with a full time job and a family. With all of that he still finds time to be a help to others. He spends long hours and majority of his free time rebuilding bicycles for the homeless veterans in both Kings and Tulare County. He is a true and great inspiration to many families.

Nate Henry
Officer Nate’s efforts have brought positive and lasting change in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. He has been able to infiltrate the homeless population, which is hard for law enforcement to do. Officer Henry maintains contact with the homeless in the Visalia area. Because of that, he has a great relationship with the homeless community and he is greatly respected by them all.

The Bridge Project
The Bridge Project has assisted clients in need for over a decade by linking them with primary health care providers, health insurance, mental health or substance abuse counseling and treatment, housing resources and various other social and medical services.

Zona Hoggard
As a Career Teacher, she works with students that have low self-esteem and are working hard to believe in themselves and a better future.  Zona has great success in becoming the support system students’ in her class need every day.

Zona has partnered with Kings United Way since 2008 as a leader of the Project Homeless Connect (PHC) Clothing Committee. Every year since, she has outreached to local businesses and churches for clothing. She also uses the event as a way of introducing her students into doing community services by having them help prepare for and participate in PHC.