A short-term resource center revival tent has been set up in the former Qualex parking lot in the 500 block of Industrial Park Drive to welcome homeless in an effort to get them off the streets.
Frank Saldana, founder of the Stockton-based non-profit Inner City Action group, has already been successful in providing resources and alternatives for homeless individuals within the city of Manteca and ultimately get them off the streets in partnership with the Manteca Police Department. He has a team of 35 currently working in Manteca to bring homeless individuals into the revival tent by sending two 10-passenger vans to encampments and bringing them back to have showers, have their hair cut and give them a fresh pair of clothes.
Some 35 men and women were able to shower in a specially outfitted trailer Wednesday. One homeless man said it was his first hot shower in three years.
Former street woman Kaela Jenkins, 42, said she had been on the streets of Manteca for two years and she is now working in the food trailers serving homeless breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the revival.
“This is a good thing,” Jenkins said. “It saved my life. I had left my five kids with my mom – three were minors.”
She is staying at the Inner City’s live-in campus in Stockton on Wilson Way with 50 others. The program also has a 20,000-square-foot building across the street that was formerly a hotel now known as the Dream Center. Kaela went home to San Jose for the first time at Christmas to spend time with her children. She said two of her kids attend McParland School in Manteca.
“This program is transitioning me back into motherhood,” she added. “My mom has been a blessing. When I left, my youngest was just 2 years old and he is 4 now.”.
Jenkins children are all boys except one – her 8-year-old girl. The oldest are 20 and 23 years old, she said.
“Getting off the streets in this program was the greatest decision I could have made in my life,” she said.
“Yesterday we had 70 for breakfast eating our breakfast burritos,” Jenkins noted of the revival tent kitchen. “It has been cold today and we’ve had a slow start.”
For dinner Wednesday they were serving spaghetti and fried chicken.
Dustin Ferber was pointed out by Inner City founder Frank Saldana who praised his actions in becoming the revival tent director to see that it is kept clean and undamaged. Saldana explained that the 11 years Ferber had spent in his own tent in a Manteca encampment it was always kept very clean and neat.
Saldana said he wouldn’t be in Manteca with his revival tent program reaching out to homeless men and women if it hadn’t been for the efforts of Manteca Police Resource Officer Michael Kelly.
The program founder said he hopes to see at least 100 people in the program by today in a bid to gain the trust of the homeless and to allow them to see the programs Inner City has to offer.
“Trust must come first,” he said.
The Inner City program has three large buses, two panel vans and a semi-truck and trailer they use in traveling the country. They have spread their good news from New York and Rhode Island to Michigan, Chicago, Las Vegas and Reno.
A group of six former homeless individuals wanted their picture taken together as mostly new-found friends. Stephen Waldrup was the first to speak up after serving as the barber in the group.
“I am a reformed career criminal – in and out of jail,” Waldrup said. “I am now happy to serve the Lord with thanks to my Father above and to Brother Frank Saldana for his program.”
Waldrup is now the head of the Dream Center and in charge of its security detail at the In City Dream Center on Wilson Way in Stockton. He noted that he was a former drug dealer and is proud of the change he has made.
Among the other former homeless working with Inner City Action are:
Sophia Messmore said she had been on the streets of Manteca for over 10 years.
Jose Calouro who said he spent the past four years floundering on the Manteca streets.
Morgan Castillo, who was on the streets for four years as a heroin addict, and is now trying to give back to the community.
James Acosta, a transplant from Hayward, said he has spent most of his recent years on Manteca streets.
The program will be operational until Feb. 4 in Manteca, however it could be extended to Feb. 8, Saldana said.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com.