At 5 am on Friday morning, January 11th, flames rising from Bianca Koch’s red 1991 BMW convertible lit up the alley between Narragansett Avenue and Niagara Street in Ocean Beach. Luckily, the fire department was able to put out the blaze before it could spread to nearby structures. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Bianca feels that her car was deliberately totaled as a result of arson.
Nearly three years ago, Bianca, 40 years old, moved to OB because it was a convenient location for her business of supplying markets, stores and cafes with organic health products. Further, although she had lived in different parts of San Diego, she favored the beauty of Ocean Beach and its small-town neighborhood atmosphere.
Ironically, she also appreciated the sense of security she felt in OB because, in her words:
“the beach patrol has everything under control… They check up on people asking them by name, ‘How are you doing?’” She noted that neighborhood groups, including the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association (OBMA) “looked out for everyone” and encouraged the reporting of crimes. Biance felt, “Any time of night, I could step out and go to the beach. There was nothing to be afraid of…That has changed now.”
Although a woman of many interests, Bianca has been concentrating her time on three basic pursuits. First, she supplies her customers with organic dehydrated wheat grass, organic tea and natural spring water; second she is a free lance writer, having written numerous articles for the Peninsula Beacon; and third, she is a volunteer with homeless people, the local churches and outreach groups.
The articles Bianca has written for the Beacon include ones about local police officers, Christmas in OB, other puff pieces about OB, and then early this month, she wrote “Headcount on Homeless: OB’s clergy group rallies to address the needs of transients, disadvantaged,” (Feb. 10, 2011, Vol. 26, No. 4.)
Bianca believes that she knows why a person or people destroyed her vehicle:
“I think it is a group of people who don’t like me promoting or helping homeless people or the churches.”
Bianca’s car was destroyed the day after her article on the homeless headcount that came out on February 10th.
She cares deeply about the welfare of homeless people. Bianca explains:
“I am very passionate for the human rights of people. Listen, understand, try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to think what it would be like if you were hurt, raped by a relative… They have no one to turn to. Thanks to the churches and the outreach groups for all that they do. But we need more [help].”
What exactly does Bianca do for the homeless?
“Although I have not been asked to do it, I always have supplies in my car, my former car, for homeless people… I generally don’t give money to them, but I will supply them with needed toiletries so that they know that someone cares. I got a radio for someone who needed a radio to drown out the voices in his head. Most of all I listen. They [the homeless people] all come to me with their problems and everything.”
When does Bianca help homeless people?
“I do this every [available] hour of every day.” Bianca is quick to say that helping homeless people ‘is not my mission. It’s a part of my daily life.”
In return for the respect that Bianca shows homeless people, she feels that homeless people “give respect back” to her. Continuing, Bianca says:
“If people would respect them, they will give the same respect back. They will try to fit into the community, if they can. No one gives them the chance.”
Since the fire, Bianca has received notice that she must vacate her apartment within 60 days.
So what are her plans for the future?
“I need to buy a car – that’s my immediate goal. I need a place to live. And I need to continue to do what I’m doing [to help homeless people]. I would like other people to join me…
“Treat homeless people with kindness and you will get a lot. There are different economic levels in our community. The different economic levels need to get to know each other. Then we will have a clean, beautiful OB. I wish it would be that way all around the world. But I will start here in OB.”