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Homeless 101: Kids sleeping in box

Event helps raise awareness of plight of less fortunate

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Homeless 101: Kids sleeping in box

HOPE Family Shelter Executive Director Dave Thompson is hoping to get more youth involved with Friday's Kids in a Box to raise awareness of Manteca's homeless as well as money to help run the city'...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED June 14, 2009 1:25 a.m.
Manteca’s unemployment rate is at 13.6 percent.

The state is looking to completely eliminate WorkNet and slash their safety net programs.

The economy is still sputtering.

And donations to the HOPE Family Shelters are down while the demands for its services are up significantly.

It is against that background the HOPE Ministries is conducting its annual Kids in a Box sleepover starting Friday after 3 p.m. at the organization’s Raymus House on South Union Road.

While donations in the form of pledges are appreciated, the main goal is to help generate awareness of the homeless problem in Manteca.

“The popular misconception is that the face of homeless are the scruffy guys walking down the street picking up cans or holding a sign that says they will work for beer,” noted HOPE Family Shelter Executive Director Dave Thompson.

Thompson noted the homeless that appear to cause problems or don’t want to work get all of the attention. In reality, the vast majority of homeless are people who either have lost their jobs, have had a reduction in pay or something happen that is beyond their control.

“Sometimes it is a bad choice they have made,”  Thompson said.

Among the youth groups showing up are members of the Boys & Girls Club, a Girls Scout Troop, and Keywanettes. Individuals are also encouraged to participate. There is adult supervision throughout the night and the event includes dinner.

Participants bring their own boxes to sleep in. Many end up decorating them as well.

It also gives the kids participating a chance to interact with the children at the homeless shelter.

For more information contact Thompson at 824-0658.

HOPE Ministries started 18 years ago
HOPE Ministries was started 18 years ago. The original family shelter at Yosemite and Sequoia in the original Manteca Hospital building that was later converted into an apartment complex later accommodates six families. The Raymus House – a former rest home on South Union Road that the Raymus family rents to HOPE Ministries for $1 a year – accommodates nine single moms and their children. There is also a six unit transitional housing complex near Doctors Hospital where families can stay up to two years and pay 30 percent of their income in rent.

The three shelters served 108 families last year that included 226 children. The shelter doesn’t keep a “waiting list” per se but they do field 20 to 40 calls a day from people looking for shelter.

HOPE Ministries is getting by with $150,000 although they budgeted $168,000 to operate the three shelters. They cut back on staff and some assistance programs for clients. They also pared back external efforts such as providing emergency food for the needy or helping with part of a month’s rent payment when a family incurs an emergency expense so it can help avoid them from becoming homeless.

The state cut funding back to zero had in an ironic twist the as federal government increased some of its funding since San Joaquin County has been hit so hard by foreclosures. As a result, just under $50,000 comes from emergency grants to help the homeless that also includes $7,600 in pass through federal government Community Block Grant funds divided up by the Manteca City Council.

The remaining $100,000 comes from individuals, churches and businesses in Manteca.
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