Dave Thompson has spent the past 14 years helping struggling families and single moms get off the streets.
Come next month the 72-year-old former Manteca Police sergeant is going to try to do something he started in 2000 — retire.
The executive director of the HOPE Family Shelters that has assisted more than 2,000 people since 1990 is stepping down on Oct. 31.
During his tenure the non-profit added the Raymus House for single moms on Union Road as well as transitional housing near Doctors Hospital of Manteca. He also oversaw a $1 million redevelopment agency financed modernization of the original HOPE Family Shelter on West Yosemite Avenue and Sequoia Avenue. There are 23 apartments between three shelters. Six are in transitional housing where families can stay up to two years. Seven are in the HOPE Family Shelter at Yosemite and Sequoia avenues, and nine at the Raymus House on South Union Road. Raymus House and HOPE Shelter have a 90-day maximum stay. HOPE Shelter is designed for families and Raymus House accommodates mothers and children.
The Rio Vista native was retired just two months after being a Manteca Police officer for 25 out of the 38 years that he was in law enforcement when he applied for the executive director’s job. He was urged to do so by a fellow police officer retiree that was working with HOPE Ministries as a caseworker.
Under his watch — as well for the entire existence of the shelters — there have never been complaints by neighbors due in a large part by the fact the non-profit operates family shelters and has set rules that those who want help must adhere to.
During his 14 years at the helm Thompson has had only one raise — $100 a month — to $1,800 a month. It underscores how the organization has stayed lean to deal with the fact the bulk of its funding is through donations and not government grants. It also underlines what has driven Thompson for the past 14 years.
“It is a calling to some people,” Thompson said of helping the homeless.
Just those past week a case worker with San Joaquin County dropped by to assist a family. The lady nine years before had stayed at HOPE Family Shelters. She used the time to save money and secure her own housing and to get her life back on track. She got a degree and went to work as a social worker.
“Not everyone that goes through here ends up getting a degree,” Thompson said. “But most of them do get their lives back together if not on the first time and then maybe the second or third time through.”
HOPE Ministries has a 70 percent plus success rate for those who complete their stays at either the HOPE Family Shelter or the Raymus House for mothers and children. By success, that means they are able to stand on their own financially.
As for homeless men and the upcoming Manteca homeless summit, Thompson had some parting advice.
“My advice is that you address the problem,” Thompson said. “Not doing anything for years hasn’t improved the situation.”
Personally, he said he’d prefer that people sleep with a roof over their heads and not out on the streets.