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Mark Ashamalla

Mark Ashamalla, who works for Transitions Mental Health Association, is the second nominee for the seventh annual Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize. He frequently searches for homeless people who are mentally ill near the riverbed in Lompoc, background.

Mark Ashamalla, a case worker for Transitions Mental Health Association in Lompoc, has been announced as the second nominee for the 2016 Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize.

Ashamalla was nominated by Christine McReynolds, an employee at Lompoc Valley Medical Center.

“I see him frequently coming to pick up homeless patients to give them a ride,” McReynolds said. “He is a dedicated friend to the homeless. They have his phone number; he serves as a contact for many.”

Ashamalla’s work brings him into the world of the mentally ill, the drug addicted and the homeless. His clients are the people who live under the bridges, in the streets, in tents pitched in the weeds on the margins of town, and who spend nights in the Bridgehouse shelter for the homeless.

As a case worker for TMHA, Ashamalla goes into the clients’ living quarters to help them work on daily living skills — cooking, cleaning, taking their medications regularly, managing their money, managing their emotional problems — and offering help in any way he can. This is during his regular 40-to-50 hour work week, which can be stressful with exposure to germs, diseases and uncleanliness.

In his free time, Ashamalla goes out and talks to the homeless wherever he finds them — on the sidewalks of town, on bus stop benches, in front of stores, in their spots where they are sleeping — to see how they are doing. He asks them if they are interested in going to Bridgehouse, or, if they are suffering from addiction, if they are interested in a recovery program.

As a member of the Lompoc Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program, Ashamalla has been assigned the top 10 clients of the 100 people designated most in need of help in Lompoc.

This is the seventh year that the Valley of the Flowers United Church of Christ has sought Peace Prize nominations from the community. Nominations can be made by contacting Allie Kay Spaulding at 741-7000 or alliekay31@comcast.net.

The recognition ceremony for nominees will be held at 3 p.m. Jan. 29 at the church, 3346 Constellation Road.

This year’s first nominee was Gail Clark-Savage.

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