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Shelter gives families HOPE with community help

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Supporters of HOPE Ministries are inviting their guests to a June 21 fund raiser at the home of Laurie and Bob Raymus in rural Manteca. Toni Raymus, left, and husband Andrew Sephos are joining Bob...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED June 13, 2012 2:26 a.m.

The streets are closer than you think.

Ask the majority of the 2,000 families in the past 20 years who have relied on HOPE Family Shelter to get back up on their feet.

They know you can become homeless while earning a paycheck. Sometimes it is a financial setback such as medical bills. It can also be the person you’re renting from has had their property foreclosed and you’re being kicked out despite paying rent on time. It can be bad budgeting skills.

You still have income but lack the savings to make a security deposit. You take what money you have to get motel rooms when you can. The rest of the time you rely on friends to allow you and your family to crash for a day or two. And when that doesn’t work, you spend a night or two on the streets usually sleeping in your car.

Those that make it into a HOPE Family Shelter that stay the full 60 to 90 days have a success rate of over 70 percent when it comes to being able to manage money and live on their own.

“I’ve never met a homeless person who is homeless because they want to be,” said Dave Thompson who has served as the executive director for the shelters since he retired from the Manteca police force 12 years ago.

Thompson said a lot of people think the homeless problem in Manteca consists of those they see pushing carts around or wandering the streets at night. But that is not the case by far with the majority of those who are homeless.

Thompson said his attitude toward the homeless didn’t start changing until a number of years ago when he served on the Boys & Girls Club board. The membership fee was $10 a year back then yet many kids were given scholarships because their families couldn’t afford to pay that amount.

“If you see kids playing at the park, you can’t pick out the ones that arehomeless just by looking at them,” said Thompson who fields six to seven calls from people in need for shelter every day that he has to turn away.

Speaking of homeless children, out of the 23,000 students within the Manteca Unified School District boundaries that include Manteca, Lathrop, Weston Ranch and French Camp there are 680 homeless students. They are identified by the fact they do not have a permanent address.

The reason HOPE enjoys a higher success rate than many other shelters is the fact they have mandatory classes plus allow those they shelter to stay there for 60 to 90 days treating it as their home instead of being forced out every day onto the street and not allowed back in until a certain time.

The classes include parenting kids and parents counseling done separately, and lifestyle lessons including how to manage and budget money.

Psychologist Judith West with years of dealing with the homeless and their issues oversees the program with help from interns from places such as California State University at Turlock.

The shelter is a stickler for drug testing.  Those who get in have to be clean and stay clean.

There are 23 apartments between three shelters. Six are in transitional housing where families can stay up to two years. Seven are in the HOPE Family Shelter at Yosemite and Sequoia avenues, and nine at the Raymus House on South Union Road.

Raymus House and HOPE Shelter have a 90-day maximum stay. HOPE Shelter is designed for families and Raymus House accommodates mothers and children.

Raymus House is limited by the bathroom facilities making it impractical to allow men or boys over 12 to stay there.

$18 a day keeps homeless kid off Manteca’s streets

HOPE Shelter under the umbrella of HOPE Ministries was launched over 20 years ago by churches of the Manteca Ministerial Association. The churches as well as individuals and service clubs provide the bulk of the $150,000 annual budget to run the shelters. There is no state funding for operations while $30,000 comes from federal sources.

That means 80 percent of the budget has to come through private sector donations.

The biggest fundraiser for HOPE Shelter takes place on Thursday, June 21, from 6 p.m. until dusk at the rural Manteca home of Bob and Laurie Raymus. The summer party with light food and beverages plus music costs $125 per person with all of the money going to the shelter.

Every $125 donation means the non-profit has the funding to cover the cost of keeping one person - including children - of the street for seven days. That translates to $18 a day.

For tickets and more information call either 824-0658 or 824-3080.

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