Citizens were encouraged to scope out the local shelter and ask questions from the dozens of volunteers available, as well as view their handiwork, which includes renovated disability approved units, bathrooms and living spaces for 14 to 16 residents.
Though the initial opening began on Saturday, Oct. 12, the H.O.S.T. shelter shows signs of housing at full capacity in the near future, and is currently undergoing a successful turnover rate, according to volunteer Pam Secrest, wife of Project Manager Kurt Gross.
On a large whiteboard in the dining area, a list of names with scheduled chores were exposed in full view, showcasing laundry times, shower times and various other chores. Secrest said many of the occupants have felt quite at home, despite only living in the shelter for a week.
“Everyone jumps right in after dinner…We’ve even had a birthday celebration on Thursday,” she added. “It was very moving.”
To ensure efficiency and adherence to H.O.S.T.’s policies, Gross also installed 12 cameras throughout the facility, which he can monitor from his cell phone at any moment, and hired three full-time staff members for extra security.
Before being admitted into the shelter, applicants must also go through an extensive interview process, sign a contract obeying codes of conduct, and leave behind any weapons or substances.
“We are a hand-up organization, not a hand out,” Gross noted. “We want to be sure we are helping people who want to help themselves. We want to make the community a better place.”
Advocate and volunteer Dennis McCord said that the shelter has positive retributions for the Patterson community as well.
“Some of the benefits to the community is a cleaner, safer city,” said McCord. “For the last two years, the city of Patterson has been trimming the oleanders along Highway 33 to remove the homeless and their belongings. This comes at a significant cost to taxpayers.”
He added that by having this facility, there will be less emergency calls to the fire or police departments for emergency care, while benefiting those in need of shelter.
“H.O.S.T. also renovated a building that was being scavenged and was slowly becoming a neighborhood issue,” McCord said. “Today, several of our guests are clean and sober and live and work in our community. Helping our homeless become more productive citizens benefits our community.”
In order to achieve this objective, over 100 different volunteers throughout the West Side participated in the initial construction process, including church organizations, youth groups, local Scouts and work parties.
“This shelter is a real testament to this community and the people who are wanting to make a difference,” said Gross. “It’s about taking people out of North Park and oleanders and keeping them off the streets. We have a real passion for the folks that need help and are looking for that opportunity for help.”
West Side architect Martin Salmon said the project was able to come together through the help of outside assistance, including Gates and Associates, Crawford Engineering, GDR Engineering, The Sword Company, Pacific Drywall, Christopherson Tile, K.D. Rookard, and Joe’s Landscaping and concrete.
“We have had so much help on this project from our professional friends and colleagues through our Gibson/Salmon Group C.O.P.E. program, which is our way of organizing low to no cost professional services and assistance to worthwhile projects and citizens,” said Salmon. “H.O.S.T. is definitely one of the largest and most involved projects we have accomplished and it is only right to acknowledge our compatriots that offered their specialties for little or no cost to the project.”
But there is still much more work to be done, according to volunteer Rich Kelly, who will continue seeking help from local volunteers and organizations for phase two of the project, which includes extensive interior and landscape designs for a self-sustaining structure. Kelly, a teacher at Creekside Middle School, said there are currently 97 students in the PJUSD who are unhoused at this time.
“Unfortunately, H.O.S.T. cannot yet accommodate families with children,” said Kelly. “We hope that when our phase two renovation is complete, we will be able to serve them with our family suite. Phase one is just taking off and there will be a great deal of fundraising necessary before we begin phase two. We’re excited to open, but we still need more funds to operate through the cold season. We project a need for an additional $7,000 by April.”
To meet these needs, H.O.S.T. plans to hold bake sales, a chicken barbecue and their 3rd annual Camp Out Homelessness weekend in June, and are continuously relying on local support.
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.