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Firefighters answer the call at Raymus House

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Firefighters answer the call at Raymus House

HOPE Ministries chief executive director Dave Thompson and Raymus House director of client services Donna Machado-Reed stand next to the two-tier bed sporting brand new linens, bedcovers and pillow...

ROSE ALBANO RISSO/The Bulletin


POSTED November 15, 2013 1:12 a.m.

If you ever wonder what firefighters – and fire chiefs – do when they are not climbing ladders battling fires, saving lives and risking life and limb, wonder no more.

Some of them are wielding paintbrushes, hammers, and other handyman’s tools to make life a little bit easier for people who have fallen into life’s potholes, financial and otherwise, and are in need of a hand-up.

More than a dozen of Manteca’s rescue and firefighting personnel were doing just that in the last few days. At the end of their shifts, Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters and several of his department personnel headed to the Raymus House shelter for homeless women and children on South Union Road to completely repair and refurbish one of the rooms that had fallen into a state of wear and tear mainly due to the age of the building that was once a care home.

It took Battalion Chief Robert L. Davis, Engineer Jeff Barr, Captain Jeff Dennis, Battalion Chief Dave Marques, Fire Captain Sterrie McLeod, Firefighter Dennis Hatfield and about 10 other fire department personnel three days last week – from Wednesday to Friday – to gut the room, paint the walls, install baseboards and clothes racks, lay laminate wood flooring in the bedroom and tiles in the bathroom, and replace the old bathroom vanity and toilet plus light fixtures throughout.

“They did a wonderful job,” pronounced Dave Thompson, chief executive officer for HOPE Ministries, the non-profit organization that manages and operates the Raymus Home and its sister facility, the HOPE Shelter for homeless families located in the remodeled two-story building on West Yosemite Avenue that was once Manteca’s first hospital.

“This room was well used, and they painted and patched it up,” Thompson said of the firefighters’ philanthropic project that was sponsored by the non-profit Manteca Fire Chief’s Foundation.

The new curtains accessorizing the window that also sports a brand new white plantation blinds were made by Sherri Davis, the wife of Battalion Chief Davis. Thompson and his daughter, Donna Machado-Reed provided the new bed linens, blankets and pillows. Machado-Reed is also the Raymus House’s director of client services.

The Raymus House repair project is a perfect example of what the Manteca Fire Chief’s Foundation is all about.

“We thought this is a good thing; it fits our mission statement” which focuses on serving the youth and seniors in the community, explained McLeod about what they just did at the emergency shelter facility.

They also chose the Raymus House because “they do a great service here to the city,” McLeod said.

The firefighter volunteers who took part in the project put in an average of six to eight hours a day over three days to complete the room renovation.

Established in 2004, the Raymus House shelters up to nine families and 10 to 15 kids at any given time for two to three months. The single-story building, which was the Golden Angels Care Home, was purchased by the late Manteca real estate developer and philanthropist Antone Raymus for $400,000 which he then rented out to the emergency home shelter for $1 a year through the Raymus Foundation.

“The Raymus Foundation deeded (the Raymus House) to HOPE Ministries three months ago,” Thompson said.

The shelter’s annual operational budget comes from a variety of sources including 25 to 35 percent of government grants from the Housing and Urban Development’s emergency shelter grant, CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) monies from the city, and Emergency Food and Shelter Program, among others. At one time, these government grants came up to more than $100,000 a year. But with the government’s dire fiscal straits in the last few years, those grants came up to just $25,000 to $35,000 this year, Thompson said.

About a dozen area churches support the two shelters on a regular monthly basis – “we receive great support from the churches,” he said – with about a hundred private individuals donating money once or twice a year, some of them monthly.

The rest of the money comes from annual community fund-raisers which, today, include a poker and golf tournament, the Summer Solstice garden party at the Delicato Family Vineyards, Kids-in-a-Box, and a wine tasting, also at Delicato, in September.

A passage in the Bible is what always comes to Thompson’s mind when he talks about what the HOPE Ministries is all about. “It’s Matthew 25:40,” he said.

That verse reads: “I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.”

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