Paso Cares is a local non-profit organization whose mission to provide for the immediate and longer term needs of homeless and needy persons and families in the Paso Robles area. Our members attend several local churches and come from a variety of professional backgrounds.
In our area, there are about 300 homeless persons. Some camp, some live in cars, some surf the couches and floors of their friends and families. Additionally, we have discovered that there are other basic needs they lack: showers, laundry, housing, and access to social services to name a few. Some of those needs can be met in the short run, others will take more time and effort to achieve.
In 2015 we began our efforts by operating a warming station to provide the homeless a dry and warm place to sleep when it rains or is freezing. A warming station differs from a homeless shelter in that the latter (e.g. ECHO) is open every night; we are open only on rainy and freezing nights. Several local churches have graciously offered to take turns providing shelter on such nights.
The warming station, however, serves a relatively small percentage of the homeless. We have been able to shelter up to 12 persons per night. We plan to grow and provide additional services to the homeless. What motivates us to undertake this work?
As people who have experienced the love of God in our own lives, we wish to extend the that love to the less fortunate as we are commissioned to do in Matthew 25: I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.
Homelessness can result from a lot of different types of unfortunate events, many of which were not the fault of homeless. Being homeless tends to start a downward spiral of depression and stress, which can open the door to other debilitating problems. Healing can start with listening to them and extending friendship as we offer services to meet their basic needs.
Simple things like showers and clean clothes can greatly improve the homeless person’s sense of self-esteem and help them obtain a job. Feeding them helps maintain their health, which in turn, can stem the spread of disease beyond their numbers. Knowing someone who cares eases stress.
We believe that by providing services, we might prevent some homeless persons from seeking to meet their needs via illegal means.
Consequently, the community at large benefits from a cleaner, healthier, and sheltered homeless population.