Margaret Ann Rey is steadfast in the belief sharing the love of God that’s backed up with offering people a hand up can change the world one person at a time.
It is reflected in a lifetime of reaching out to people that includes 20 years of service on the HOPE Ministries Family Shelters board as well as through organizations such as the Haven of Peace that helps women and children through some of the darkest and most trying times of their lives.
On Friday Rey, who graduated from Manteca High in 1949, was busy volunteering as she does every week with Love’s Treasures. The faith-based non-profit secures donations of furniture and household goods to help those transitioning from homeless shelters into their own housing with the necessities needed to set up a household.
“I’m just proud to be in the service of the Lord,” Rey said.
Those on the HOPE Ministries board are equally proud of how Rey has dedicated her life to serving others. Rey is being honored for her service to the non-profit that operates three shelters in Manteca for families and women with children during the Night of Hope annual donor appreciation dinner on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 5 p.m. at the River Mill, 1672 Bowman Road, in French Camp. The deadline for tickets for the event co-sponsored by Raymus Homes is Oct. 14. The $75 tickets are available online at www.HopeFamilyShelters.org or by calling (209) 665-7640.
Rey notes that the homeless is not a modern-day phenomenon.
Rey, who lived with her grandmother growing up just outside of Manteca where the old Western Pacific Railroad tracks that now carry Union Pacific and ACE trains toward the Altamont said her uncle William Witham who worked at the Spreckels Sugar beet refinery was always bringing homeless to their home to feed and even spend a few nights.
Rey said they were so poor her uncle would make payments on his car when work was available in the summer and then would borrow against it in the winter when work became scarce.
“I don’t think he ever paid off the car,” Rey said.
Her experience growing up wedded with a strong faith gave her a great empathy for those struggling noting that “if it wasn’t for the grace of God” she could be in the same situation.
She became involved with HOPE Ministries that has helped nearly 3,000 homeless people — most of who have been children — five years after a coalition of churches launched the outreach ministry at the urging of her pastor at the time, Bob Bricker who was serving at Southside Christian Church. At one point the board was down to just Bricker, Rey, and Pat Metzer as HOPE Ministries struggled to raise funds.
“It was like trying to pull hen’s teeth to raise money,” she recalled.
At one point Dave Thompson — who took the job as HOPE executive director after retiring as a Manteca Police officer — would often forgo accepting his salary during summer months when revenue dried up so the organization could continue to help struggling families to get off the street and back on their feet.
Rey said she takes the greatest satisfaction in mentoring “tough cases” where it takes two or three times for a family staying at the shelter to effectively grasp the lessons HOPE Ministries shares on everything from budgeting and addressing issues that made them homeless.
“It is about a hand up,” Rey noted
At the same time it pains her to see children homeless.
“No child deserves to be in such a situation,” she said.
Rey said those who have been helped by HOPE Shelters will often send what they can afford when they get back on their feet so other people can be helped.
Rey said the key that drives changes when mixed with providing practical needs and the grasp of how to navigate pitfalls to stay off the streets is love.
“Christ loved everyone,” Rey said. “. . . Everyone needs to be loved.”
HOPE operates three shelters — one serves family, another is for mothers with children, and the other is transitional housing. They are drug-free meaning clients must be clean and stay that way during their stay. HOPE also established HELP Outreach in partnership with the Manteca Homeless Task Force to address issues with those living on the street and work
A family’s stay in a HOPE shelter is typically two months. During that time adults and children have access to counseling services, classes is in budgeting and financing, and — if they are not employed — are coached how to seek employment.
Between 2014 and 2017, HOPE served 948 individuals in 275 families. Of those, 35 percent found permanent housing, less than 9 percent returned to homeless, and the rest either moved in with family members or some other shared arrangement. Typically with shelters in California the success rate at finding permanent housing is 15 percent.
The success rate for 2017 for HOPE clients finding permanent housing hit 44 percent. Even more impressive for last year was the fact 100 percent of the clients that did not have a job when they started their two-month stay in the shelter were employed before they left the program.
Businesses, churches, service clubs, and individuals donate $320,000 a year to keep the doors of HOPE shelters open. The rest of the non-profit’s $360,000 annual budget — $40,000 — comes from government sources.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org