Originally published in The Vacavile Reporter on December 12, 2016 By Kimberly K. Fu
As the days get shorter, colder and wetter, thoughts for many in Vacaville turn toward the homeless and the winter sheltering program.
Slated to help as many as 30 clients a night with a hot meal, a safe place to sleep and the care of the community, the program offers a hand up — but not without cost.
Which is why Vacaville’s There’s a Better Way team has kicked off fundraising efforts by way of a crowdfunding campaign.
Through Go Fund Me, the team hopes to raise $25,000 by Jan. 2, the start of the temporary sheltering program.
“We hope to raise $25,000 for expected and unforseen costs,” said Pastor Raleigh Galgan, who heads the TBW crew. The members are volunteer Navigators, or people who help homeless neighbors navigate the system, help them find resources and show them that there’s a better way to live their lives.
“We raised $2,020 over the weekend,” said Brigitte Aton, spokeswoman for the effort and a Navigator, herself.
The news was inspiring, said Galgan, adding that he hopes the holiday spirit embraces as many hearts as possible to enable the program to continue.
“This is a community effort,” he emphasized. “For people in the community to give.”
Last year’s pilot project, a collaboration between the city, Mission Solano, the local faith community and the community at large, was deemed a success. Churches stepped up to house the homeless neighbors for weeks at a time and they, businesses and the community provided meals and fellowship.
Mission Solano, meanwhile, oversaw the project, providing intake, transportation, bedding, staff and other resources.
Unfortunately, Mission Solano absorbed a significant financial hit, which is why fundraising was undertaken for the sophomore program.
Costs are estimated at $10,000 per month for two months, breaking down to $2,500 a week for transportation and other resources.
Galgan said they’ll take aid wherever they can get it and will be reaching out to churches, schools, businesses and others.
Four weeks of the nine-week program are spoken for in regards to host churches.
A mobile shower is also in the works, with the aid of the county and Mission Solano. This tool not only aids their hygiene, he said, but also lifts their spirits. When they’re clean, they feel good, he added, and in this frame of mind they’re willing to do more.
“We coach them, we challenge them, with their permission,” Galgan advised. “We help them do what they don’t want to do so they become what they’re meant to become.”
“We love them,” added Aton. “Sometimes they just need somebody at their side.”
“We spend the summer and the fall and the spring planting and watering and nurturing and we see a harvest during the wintertime sheltering.”
Host churches or businesses are still needed, as are individuals or groups to provide food and volunteers to lend a hand in numerous capacities.
To donate, visit gofundme.com/theresabetterway.
To learn more or to volunteer, visit Facebook and search for There’s a better way – Vacaville.
Kimberly K. Fu
Veteran newshound with @vacareporter, traded crime & adrenaline for the municipalities of Vacaville & Dixon. Kept the black coffee and occasional cigar.