A Manteca success story can be found at 528 West Yosemite Avenue.
It is there that minor miracles have occurred over the course of the past two decades.
Of the nearly 3,000 people who have lived temporarily at that address, it has been a life-changing experience for roughly 2,100 of them with most being children.
It is a place where the future can be found. It is a place where many facets of the community have come together to help others provide encouragement, hence the name HOPE Ministries Family Shelter.
It cannot be stressed enough what two months has meant over the years to the families that have stayed there. They were all homeless beforehand with most working. They weren’t all necessarily living on the streets or in cars but all had no home. They bounced between friends and relatives sleeping on couches or sleeping in garages. They may have camped by the river or stayed in cheap motels when they could afford it. In all likelihood, it was a combination of all those makeshift shelter options.
Most walked across the threshold of the apartments at the family shelter the first time filled with despair. They leave two months later filled with hope.
Some 70 percent of them never end up back on the streets. It is because the two months spent at the HOPE Family Shelter isn’t just about having a roof over their heads. It’s about being able to save money and manage finances.
Most families got on the path to being without a home due to unexpected cutbacks in income, a medical emergency that cost them work hours, or simply because they could not effectively manage what money they earn. Many have the income to rent an apartment but can’t afford the deposits for the rent and utilities plus the first month’s rent.
HOPE - through the generosity of the community - also helps with other expenses, allowing the families to save their money. Counseling in life skills also adds to the success rate.
HOPE Ministries was created as collaboration not of government agencies or private sector businesses but of churches. It stands as a shining example of true faith.
Help is given to anyone who follows basic rules such as being drug-free. It doesn’t matter what their religion is or even if they believe in God.
It is a true outreach to fellow man in the spirit of Jesus Christ, which mirrors the underscoring principles in all of the world’s great religions.
There was a great cry and hue back 20plus years ago when the churches originally started looking for a shelter location. No one wanted a shelter anywhere near them for what were often referred to as “those people.”
As many have found out over the years, “those people” are neighbors, friends, and their child’s schoolmates.
Elected city leaders - to their credit - have assisted with the building after it was bought. That assistance didn’t come with social engineering conditions.
The expectation - and requirement - is to help homeless families.
And now - thanks to $1.2 million in redevelopment agency funds - there will at least be another 55 years that Manteca will have an effective safety net that doesn’t create dependency but provides a helping hand up.
A sign on just how big of an impact two months at HOPE Family Shelter has on people arrives periodically in the form of checks for $10 or $25 from families that once were in the program.
Although they are still far from flush, they understand the great gift that they were given by complete strangers who support HOPE Family Shelter.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.