Twelve hot showers. Thirteen haircuts. Hot meals. Fresh clothes for men and women.
That was what Stockton Inner City Action and other volunteers helped provide Manteca’s homeless on Monday.
Pastor Frank Saldana pulled his “Inner City Action” bus into the driveway of hosting St. Paul’s United Methodist Church at Powers Avenue and North Street along with a fully equipped trailer and its plumbed shower. Volunteers had been contacting countless homeless individuals throughout the community earlier in the day and over the past week to make them aware of the opportunity to take a shower.
Last week saw the first homeless shower effort in Manteca. It was hosted by the Place of Refuge in the 400 block of Button Avenue adjacent to Highway 99.
Saldana said he found his passion for helping the homeless after he got off the streets of Oakland and got clean and sober. Saldana said he was inspired by Matthew Barnett of the Dream Center in Los Angeles.
People are now networking with Saldana after the Manteca Homeless Summit earlier this month. They are also working with the Manteca Love Inc. that is led by Steve Parsons and his aide Douglas Montandon. Saldana said it was a collaboration of willing individuals at the summit that inspired the action to help Manteca’s homeless on a weekly basis.
Next Wednesday the team is scheduled to be stationed behind the Calvary Chapel at 602 East Yosemite Avenue with their bus and commercial trailer and its shower facility. Saldana said his group is hoping to work with all the churches in the community through Manteca’s Love Inc. to serve needy individuals. Montandon has been calling on churches in the community hoping to get them more involved in the homeless support endeavor. Chinh Vu with the Calvary Community Church on Lathrop Road has also been a significant contributor to the homeless relief program.
Montandon added that Tracy is sending a group to Manteca to investigate the program, hoping to duplicate the homeless support effort in their community.
Towels for the shower facility are being provided by several Manteca hotels. Once they are used they are placed in plastic refuse containers and returned to the motels where they are routinely washed and put back into service, he added.
The pastor said the mission is funded by 100 percent by donations.
Inner City Action that runs the operation is located on Wilson Way in Stockton with a full time staff of eight along with volunteer staffers of 15. Overall 50 are serving the homeless including its other locations in Lodi and McFarland. The operation has three other buses it uses with bed lifts as well as gate trucks.
Saldana pointed out that his operation serves some 400 to 500 homeless men and women each week with and nearly 50,000 a year throughout the valley towns they service. He praised Pastor Dave Bliss of the Place of Refuge on Button Avenue for allowing him to park their vehicles on his church campus.
Manteca Police Officer Michael Kelly was ecstatic when he brought a homeless man into the church campus on Monday saying he had found him parked in his car in a frustrated state because he could not make ends meet. The man had told Kelly that he was retired from a car rental operation in Oakland where he had 20 years’ service. He is receiving a $950 monthly pension. as he fought back tears he told Kelly he couldn’t afford to rent an apartment and eat too.
Kelly had another man he quickly put his arm around. John Golden, 26, had been on the streets for some seven to eight years trying to get his life together – Kelly helped. They both were all smiles Monday afternoon by the bus and trailer operation. Golden had played linebacker for the Manteca Buffaloes in the early to mid 2000s.
Kelly explained that the operation also help those who have recently gotten off of probation and said it helps mothers in getting back to their children. The program is also providing some 40,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables a year to the homeless on the streets thanks to Second Harvest Food Bank and other resources in the county.
Kelly who is the Manteca Police Community Resource Officer assigned to work with Manteca’s homeless population made the unexpected come together for the former Oakland resident. Not only did he see that the man had a hot meal, but he also found a one-bedroom apartment for him at $350 a month where he could live comfortably and have three meals a day until he got back on his feet.
Kelly continually makes the rounds of the homeless encampments in his police car and keeps track of the men and women while letting them know what is available to make their lives easier while they are living on the streets and in the parking lots.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.