Hero Zero

Most of us were safe in our cozy homes last week as we prepared for the massive storm headed our way. One woman wasn’t so fortunate. Monday evening, San Rafael police responded to a report of someone living in their car on Paloma Avenue. Cathy Bonner, 54, and her 11-year-old Chihuahua Yaya, were indeed living in her car. Corporals Justin Graham and Mike Mathis learned that she had been evicted from her apartment after her partner of 38 years died; she was also recently diagnosed with cancer and unemployed. For the officers, the call changed from enforcing the ordinance against sleeping in a vehicle to trying to help. As they discussed the limited options due to the late hour, their dispatcher interrupted with a temporary solution. A neighbor, who insisted on remaining anonymous, had overheard the conversation, phoned the station, and offered to pay for two nights at a hotel. SRPD helped her register at the hotel and promised to monitor her situation. The following morning, Lieutenant Dan Fink contacted the Ritter Center. Cathy now has three weeks at a local hotel. “Without the Ritter Center from day three on, Cathy would have been homeless,” Lt. Fink said. The goal is to find permanent housing, especially while she undergoes chemotherapy at Marin General. And her little dog? “Yaya will stay with Sergeant Wanda Spaletta during Cathy’s treatments,” Lt. Fink said. A host of heroes stepped forward to assist Cathy, but more are needed. To help, contact the Ritter Center at 415/457-8182.—Nikki Silverstein

Pacific Sun
The Pacific Sun publishes every Wednesday, delivering 21,000 copies to 520 locations throughout Marin County.
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