Ray of Hope is suddenly without a home.
The local non-profit organization known for working diligently with referrals from Child Protective Services along with other approved agencies to provide the basic needs of children in crisis returned to Manteca last September and is going through some tough times.
According to executive director Laura Vieira Saunders, Ray of Hope and other places in the South Mellon Avenue industrial building were recently ousted.
She alleged that one of the building’s owners put them in this bind by walking away.
“There was no notice,” Saunders said on Monday. “They collected our money (for the past three months) and never paid the rent on the building.”
As a non-profit, she’s in the process of waiting for certain funding to come in. By that, Ray of Hope is without the funds to up and move. Saunders had jump-started the organization some four months earlier after a seven-year absence. She told the Bulletin in November that the reason for the hiatus was her late husband’s terminal illness coupled with her daughter being diagnosed with an incurable disease that left her blind.
Upon her return, Saunders was surprised to see that Ray of Hope was needed more than ever.
“We never imagined how much the organization’s demands would grow,” she said.
The holidays were marked with the return of the Christmas Guardian Angel Program, with children being referred to by the likes of CPS, Second Harvest Food Bank, Give Every Child A Chance, St. Paul’s Food Pantry, and local law enforcement, to name a few.
Saunders is baffled by the recent turn of events. All signage on the building were also removed.
“The business owner will not return calls. However, one of the partners – unaware that the building was not paid – attempted to save the building but was unsuccessful,” she said.
Saunders added: “Everyone is apologetic but that doesn’t help us. Without a facility, we can’t begin our diaper drive for our Babies in Crisis Program (in January).”
Other plans included the design of the Sexual Assault Program.
“Our work is important and we are counted by our neediest children. The referrals we get are for children in great strife and consistency is imperative for them so we can’t just give up,” Saunders said.
Ray of Hope is in dire need of any available office space while waiting for funding to come through.
“We have budgeted the offices we can’t do anything more than that since we just came back,” said Saunders. “We have yet to do any fundraising.
“If anyone has an available office space, I ask them to please reach out to us – we have kids counting on us.”
For more information, call 209.883.6255 or e-mail Laurasaunders@rayofhopekids.com.