Homelessness is an issue everywhere, but interim executive director of We Care Turlock, Barbara Olave, has a unique way of describing it: “We are in the Appalachia of the west,” she said. “Times are hard here, economically. Jobs are scarce.”
When the weather gets cold, it’s even harder for the homeless. Fortunately, We Care Turlock offers some help with their emergency cold weather shelter for men. The shelter can house 49 men each night and it’s the 12th season they’ve been open.
During that time, the shelter has helped hundreds of men, like current resident Keith Kain.
“It helps me get up in the morning and get things right,” Kain said about staying at the shelter. “Getting up in a bush somewhere doesn’t fit me.”
The shelter is only open five months of the year, but fellow resident Tariq Collette said this one stands out because of the cleanliness, the rapport with the employees, the support those employees provide and also the resources.
There is a computer lab where residents can work on resumes, apply for jobs and reconnect with family. The shelter also has a social room, and dinners are prepared by local civic groups, churches, or families.
It makes a difference, but Olave points out the beds at the shelter only makes a small dent in a larger issue throughout the county.
“There are only enough beds for 1/3 of the adult homeless population without children,” Olave said.
Collette and Kain both said they don’t know where they would be if the shelter didn’t exist. There’s a sobering answer — and one that Olave knows first-hand: “Seven years ago, I was homeless in Turlock and had three sons,” she recalled. “We were living in a vehicle we purchased. My marriage had fallen apart, bankruptcy, foreclosure.”
Olave said she was on the edge and could have gone either way, but found support in the Turlock community and turned her life around.
She hopes the shelter can do that for the men who are here.
Olave added the shelter’s success comes from the generosity of the community and they are always looking for donations of money, blankets, socks and food. She also said their dinner calendar, where groups come in to prepare the nightly meal for residents, still has some openings.
To help visit www.WeCareTurlock.org