When Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion first started coming up with a plan on how best to address the growing homeless issue in Manteca, he stressed the need for a cooperative community effort consisting of the city, churches, non-profits and residents working side-by-side.
And on Tuesday that was on full display as Manteca’s Community Resource Officer Mike Kelly led a team of resource outreach workers around town to get the help to the people who needed it – whether it was a trip to a shelter or a drug treatment program or making sure that people aren’t wet and miserable in the middle of the worst storm in a decade.
Things, Kelly said, went better than expected in terms of the number of people that the coordinated group – which included representatives from San Joaquin County Mental Health, local Catholic charities, Care Link, Calvary Community Church, Crossroads Community Church and the Raymus House – were able to actually assist.
“We were able to make contact with a total of 20 people today and find out what ways in which they could have used assistance,” said Kelly .
Kelly is on duty Monday through Thursday and works closely with the homeless and the resources available to help them in a dual role that focuses on both enrichment and enforcement.
“It really just comes down to empathy and being able to let 20 people know that there are people out there that want to help them and want to help care for them – letting them know they aren’t forgotten,” Kelly said.
According to Kelly, the group was able to convince one person to enter a drug treatment program, and got a mother and her young children placed at a local shelter. One homeless woman who was living in her vehicle that had problems walking ended up being taken to a hospital in an ambulance to get the care that she needed. Another homeless couple was able to be outfitted with new clothes from head-to-toe to weather the constant driving rain that sent most people on the street towards whatever shelter they could find.
Showing the community and those who need the resources that there are places available that can help, Kelly said, is incredibly important on multiple levels – reinforcing the idea to the residents of the community that it will take a coordinated effort to enact change while showing the homeless that there are places they can go and people that will help them.
“Without all of these different groups we wouldn’t be able to do nearly as much as we were able to do today,” Kelly said. “This is just too big a job, and the only that it can be done is by pulling people together in a common goal to help those that need it.”
And there will be opportunities to get involved coming up in the near future.
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 9 a.m. at the Manteca Transit Center, Kelly and the Manteca Police Department administration will be hosting another homeless summit where people who want to offer assistance or learn where their help would be most needed are encouraged to attend and network with other community groups who are already on the ground.
“We encourage people who want to find out more about what is going on and how they can help to come out and work with us,” Kelly said. “All of the resources that we do have provided are absolute necessities in order to get a handle on this, and it makes it so much easier when we’re able to go out and talk to people and have individuals there that are able and willing to help.
“When you have the resources, it makes it very easy.”
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