Toby Payan knows what it’s like to be on the street.
It’s been almost a decade since the Inter City Action pastor was out causing mayhem throughout Manteca, but he remembers all too well what it was like to be in the throes of active addiction.
And that’s why he spent his day on Tuesday making sure that everything was in place for the first night of the ministry’s current task of providing a nighttime warming center for the homeless in the community in a tent in the parking lot of a city-owned former Qualex building in the Manteca Industrial Park.
With the blessing of the Manteca City Council that also declared a health emergency exists for those are homeless due to plummeting night time temperatures, the ministry is now authorized to use the facility that has served the homeless population as a daytime center for nights through the end of March as the temperature in the Central Valley plummets – giving the homeless a safe, warm place to bed down for the night.
And having all of the people who need the ministry’s help gathering in one place, Payan said, is a chance to both provide them what they need and show them that there are alternatives to their current life circumstances.
“This is about helping the people who need it and welcoming them with all of the love and the support that the Lord has to offer,” said Payan, who works closely with Pastor Frank Saldana to provide the outreach services to the community. “It’s about showing people that we care and that there are other options out there for them.”
And it’s a full-service operation.
In addition to providing the homeless who utilize the services with a place to sleep for the night, the organization also provides a place for them to get a haircut, take a shower, and get new clothes that are all brand new and arranged according to size.
Toiletries are available, and inside of the tent there is a projection screen for movies that will be shown, a coffee and snack center to the homeless some of the comforts that they may be missing out on while on the street, and a pool and ping pong table so that they can relax and play games.
Organizing such an effort, however, takes a significant amount of work.
More than half-a-dozen people will be on shift during the nighttime hours to make sure things run smoothly, and the entire Inter City Action Manteca crew is on hand during the day to pay forward the warmth and the acceptance that they received when working to get off the street themselves.
With donations from individuals and the local business community the ministry will continue to provide the resources necessary for the homeless for the foreseeable future, and Payan hopes that by forging connections with the homeless community they’ll be able to reach upwards of 100 people every night.
“We’re still working on putting everything together, but we’ve built the relationships here in the community, so we’ll actually go out with our vans to the encampments and give people a ride here so that they have a place to stay,” Payan said. “It’s all about paying it forward, and that’s what we’re hoping this effort will do.”
In order to make the warming center and the daytime service center a success, the ministry needs donations from local residents and businesses who want to help. With upwards of 70 people taking a shower every single day, the ministry is constantly in need of toiletry items, undergarments, clothes, snacks and drinks, and lots of other items that will help their efforts successful provide for the less fortunate in the community.
The Inner City Action warming center and daytime program site is located at 555 Industrial Park Drive in the parking lot of the city-owned Qualex building. For more information, or for a detailed list of the items that the ministry could use to help carry out their mission, visit Inner City Action’s website at www.innercityaction.org.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.