Pajaro mission rescues Salvation Army shelters
plans would expand Watsonville homeless services
But after reaching a one-year agreement with the Salvation Army, partners Teen Challenge Monterey Bay and the Pajaro Rescue Mission plan to reopen the two Union Street facilities by Nov. 15 to offer shelter and a full range of social services.
The organizations can't do it alone, however, and are counting on community support, said executive director Mike Borden.
"We're a faith-based organization, and we're moving forward on faith," Borden said during a tour of the shelters Friday. "We believe the community will step up."
The shelters -- one for men and one for single women and women with children -- will be modeled on the Pajaro Rescue Mission, with a place to sleep and two meals a day just the start. Borden plans to offer the recovery program, counseling, job training and life-skill classes that have helped many Pajaro Rescue Mission residents find sobriety and a pathway to a productive life.
"The bigger picture is to get them out of homelessness," he said. "We know what is needed. We know how to do it, and we know how to do it effectively."
But the priority is to get the shelters up and running to serve 60-70 people. Borden doesn't have much to work with beyond the wall-to-wall metal bunk beds with bare mattresses. He's looking for donations of new or used sheets and blankets, preferably twin size, but larger sizes will be accepted and tailored to fit.
Towels, dishes, cups and the like also are needed. Pajaro Rescue Mission also is launching a campaign to raise $100,000 to fund the two shelters through the winter. Backers say if 500 individuals, businesses, churches or civic groups donate $200 each, they'll meet the goal.
The Salvation Army Golden State Division announced it would close the shelters in June, saying it couldn't sustain them financially. But the organization is supporting the new endeavor, handing over the shelters at no charge other than the cost of utilities and supplying a shower trailer to supplement restroom facilities at the men's shelter.
Harry Wiggins, chairman of the Watsonville Salvation Army advisory board, said the organization also will continue operating its soup kitchen in partnership with area churches. It also is keeping open a third shelter that serves five to 10 women recovering from addiction, and will continue offering utility bill assistance to the needy.
"The Salvation Army is here and here for the long haul," Wiggins said.
WHAT: Pajaro-based homeless shelter and recovery center expands to former Salvation Army shelters in downtown Watsonville