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Shelter supports dig into pockets

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Kim Matthews, left, and David Cox chat at the benefit Thursday for the HOPE Family Shelter.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED June 17, 2011 1:25 a.m.

David Cox could easily have used the $125 he shelled out for a ticket to Thursday’s summer garden party benefiting HOPE Family Shelter on something else.

Times are tight, even for chiropractors.

But Cox figured he had no other choice.

“Nothing is worse than kids starving,” Cox said as he listened to soft rock while enjoying light food provided by the Building Homes Foundation founded by siblings Toni and Bob Raymus.

Cox said he was stunned to learn there were 700 homeless children within the Manteca Unified School District boundaries who bounce from family friends’ couches and garages one night to the next, sometimes sleep in motel rooms or at campsites, occasionally in vehicles and even down by the river with their families.

“You can’t beat the cause,” Cox added.

Cox was among nearly 100 people who paid $125 a ticket with every penny going to the HOPE Family Shelters. The foundation picked up the tab for staging the event while volunteers - such as the band - also helped make sure all ticket sales went to help struggling families.

“Times are tough that is why we appreciate the help we are getting,” said Bob Raymus who also serves on the HOPE Family Shelter board.

This is the eighth year for the summer party that has become the biggest fundraiser for the non-profit that has reduced its operating budget to $150,000 and shed a third of its staff overseeing the family shelters in a bid to help struggling families.

While past garden parties have brought in $26,000, Raymus said he’d be pleased to realize half of that. Last month, youth participating in the Kids in a Box sleepover raised more than $5,000 in pledges for the shelter.

Retired Manteca Police officer and HOPE Shelter Executive Director Dave Thompson said he continues to be amazed at the generosity of the community from business people to churches to individuals even though everyone has taken financial hits with the recession.

He said one individual who had “adopted” a family by writing checks to take care of their expenses while they live two months in the shelter to save money for a deposit and rent lost her job a few months ago. Yet she still manages to write a check each month - although for a significantly smaller amount - because Thompson said she understands that there are people with greater needs.

Almost all of the single mothers with children as well as families the HOPE Shelter assists have income from a job. But a reduction in hours, one spouse getting laid off, or a medical emergency made it impossible for them to pay their rent and cover other costs.

Part of the HOPE program is to sharpen budgeting skills. As a result, roughly 60 percent of the 2,000 families that HOPE Family Shelter has helped to get back on their feet since 1992 have been able to make it.

The shelter ministry has been supported since its inception by a coalition of 14 churches that are part of the Manteca Ministerial Association.

The non-profit organization was born in the middle of the recession that followed the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the winding down of the aerospace industry, and massive closure of military bases in California. HOPE Ministries now struggles in the midst of the Great Recession to meet a need that has increased proportionately with Manteca’s record post World War II unemployment rate of 16 percent.

For more information or to help with donations of money or items, call 824-0658.

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