One Manteca woman knows exactly how hard it is to deal with a child that has turned to drugs.
But thanks to Manteca Police Community Resource Officer Mike Kelly, she can now rest easy now that her son, a 29-year-old that was living on the street, is getting the help that he needs in a Stockton drug treatment facility.
According to Shari, who asked that her last name not be used to protect the identity of her son, it was an article in the newspaper that tipped her off to the kind of work that Kelly – who serves as a liaison between the police department and at-risk communities like Manteca’s homeless population – was doing in the community.
So she did what any concerned mother would do in that situation – she reached out and asked for help.
“You get to a point where you want to ask for help but then you’re faced with not knowing where to turn to ask for it,” said Shari – noting that her son has been accepted into the program on Wednesday. “I saw in the paper that he was working with homeless people and had been doing this kind of work, so I reached out to him and it worked.
“I think that having somebody that knows what to do in these situations is important for families who are dealing with these issues.”
Since July, Kelly has gotten 84 people that he has come across through his contacts with those living on the street into treatment or into temporary or long-term housing to allow them to get back on their feet and become a contributing member of society again.
While he didn’t know Shari’s son when she reached out, Kelly called the young man to see what sorts of things he would be open to only to be hung up on.
Within a week, her son called back and said that he was ready to enter into a treatment program, and wanted to know what he could do to make that a reality. Kelly made some phone calls, went and met with him and did everything he could to make sure that he would be placed somewhere that he could confront his addiction.
For Shari, the news that he was going into treatment meant that she wouldn’t have to wonder anymore about when she would be getting the phone call that he was dead.
“I was really beginning to wonder if he would ever figure it out and do something,” she said. “I tried looking for different things and through different avenues, but nothing really clicked until I talked to Officer Kelly and now he’s on his way to turning things around.
“I think cities need people like him that are able to help those who need it. I know that a lot of people here are annoyed and frustrated with the homeless, but there are those that want to make a change and just know what to do and there’s what he does is important. “
On Thursday morning Shari sent an email to the Manteca Police Chief thanking the department for their dedication to helping those who may be struggling, and encouraging the city to remain committed to the project. The Manteca City Council has already approved the funding for a second positon like Kelly’s, but the department hasn’t settled on an applicant that will help augment the existing work already being done on the street.
“It’s rewarding to hear stories like this, and it’s a motivation for me to keep going,” Kelly said. “You do this one day at a time – I don’t ever force anybody into anything and I want them to go when they feel like they’re ready.
“Even if somebody isn’t make the best choices out there, they still have family members that love them and are worried about them and we need to remember that as well.”