If you go to certain select websites that hammer away incessantly over hot topic issues such as the homeless in order to draw clicks for page views so they can pocket money from advertisers, you will read how Manteca is one of the cruelest communities on the face of earth.
Manteca is portrayed as a heartless place in some quarters of virtual reality that is about as real as the hollow gestures people type about ridding the world of evil.
Let’s forget the Internet that supposedly is bringing the world together and look at the here and now.
There’s a lot of good going on in the real world. The covers everywhere from war-torn Chicago where — if it were a Third World country with such a high murder rate the State Department would issue a travel advisory saying they couldn’t guarantee Americans’ safety — to small San Joaquin Valley towns such as Linden, Hilmar, and Firebaugh.
But let’s talk about Manteca for a second.
Manteca is where 62 percent of the 24,000 students in the school district qualify for free and reduced meals.
Manteca is where farming, high tech commuters, and the logistics industry are the three private-sector pillars of the economy.
So how does Manteca really treat its homeless? Website operators could care less about reality while lining their pockets with virtual reality profits by slamming Manteca as completely heartless and as a place where we supposedly criminalize being homeless.
Last year such sites triggered so much vile feedback that the City Clerk’s office had to add an option to handle the volume of indignant callers from around the country that prompted you to hit “1” if you were calling to comment on Manteca’s homeless issues.
For 22 years — and long before many communities of similar size did so — Manteca has supported shelters for homeless families and single moms with kids. HOPE Family Shelters is doing so on a budget of $300,000 plus a year of which 80 percent comes not from the government but from donations.
Does that sound like a heartless community?
More recently the community has embraced a Manteca Police Department solution backed by the Manteca City Council to spend $250,000 on community resource officers dedicated to homeless issues. Yes, they do deal with those that break the spirit of the law as opposed to the letter of the law and do so in a humane way. But the real big impact is the CRO positions are helping homeless people willing to go into substance abuse treatment programs, secure jobs, obtain housing or to be reunited with family often cross country that are willing to take them in, or steer them to services where they can get the help they need.
Perhaps the so-called homeless advocates parked on their tush in San Francisco and elsewhere using social media to spread vile about Manteca might want to Google to see how many other cities of 75,000 — or even 500,000 — have taken such a step. And they should keep in mind simply building more shelters hasn’t solved anything so far anywhere else.
Now let’s talk turkey.
For the 18th consecutive year, Manteca along with Ripon and Lathrop has stepped up to make sure identified struggling families — 1,850 households in all — won’t go without a traditional Thanksgiving turkey meal. That represents $27,750 the donors could have collectively spent on themselves or their own families. And that doesn’t count the effort this Thursday when volunteers will serve 1,600 Thanksgiving meals to the needy, the homeless, the elderly, and the lonely.
Keep in mind among those donating are those who have been helped before and the elderly living only on Social Security who survived the Great Depression that make it a point to set aside a dollar or so a month year round so they can help their neighbors.
It is that type of commitment to help others that power Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop not just at the holidays but year around.
Contrary to the incessant teeth gnashing amplified by media, social and otherwise, especially in the past few weeks America is far from a heartless place.
There are countless Mantecas, Lathrops, and Ripons, from sea to shining sea. The case can be made it is small town and small city America that powers true charity and not the ones that do a dual purpose as a tax deduction and marketing tool.
Wal-Mart may donate $30,000 a year to the communities they have a store in but it is a mere pittance to what small businesses donate in relation to their gross revenue.
Thanksgiving is three days away.
Take time to count your blessings.
And remember the true America that takes its obligations to those in need seriously even after the government has crimped their resources by extracting a mandatory wealth transfer whose effectiveness is vastly diluted by a money-sucking bureaucracy.
Manteca — as well as Lathrop and Ripon — doesn’t need flash mobs, student walkouts, or weekly rioting in Oakland to remind them of the need to step up and help their neighbors who are struggling.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.