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Hotel Comes to Aid of Homeless Sculptor

March 01, 2000|GAIL DAVIS

His rock sculptures at Surfers Point may have been knocked down, but Stuart Finch remains on his feet.

The homeless man, known for his artistic stacks of rocks and driftwood on Ventura beaches, has had a roof over his head for the last two weeks, thanks to the Clarion Ventura Beach Hotel.

The hotel is giving Finch a free 30-day stay but will extend the time if he shows he is making headway in finding a job and permanent housing.

Finch, 38, has been using the time to find a job, food and permanent housing and perhaps to clear his outstanding fines for illegal camping.

Hotel staff plan to interview Finch today for a possible maintenance job.

Finch said it's been a blessing to not have to spend so much time worrying about a place to sleep, but hotel staff say having Finch around has had an impact on them too.

"We try to emphasize more of a family nature at this company and this gesture has gone a long way to revitalizing that feeling," said Kevin Wycoff, general manager of the hotel.

He said as word has spread that the hotel is putting Finch up for the month, people have called and voiced their support, and one person dropped off a check for $35.

Wycoff said the gesture far surpasses the dollar amount.

"We're a commercial enterprise, not a nonprofit organization," he said. "And we're used to guests arguing with us for a phone call charge for a dollar."

The hotel gave Finch the one-month stay after bar manager Chad Caton, 24, read about Finch in local newspapers and thought Finch's industrious rock-stacking efforts showed he was a person on whom a helping hand wouldn't be wasted.

Finch said the room came just in time, since a bad cold he caught while sleeping out in the cold February nights turned into bronchitis.

Finch is not worried that his sculptures on the beach have been knocked down. Right now he has other business to take care of. When he is situated with a job and a home, he will be back on the beach, stacking rocks.

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