Nearly 300 people gathered on Saturday to honor graduates of the Global Center for Success and the Christian Help Center.
“People want to be a part of a change” was spoken by a clergyman before everyone tucked into breakfast, and it was indeed a good touchstone for the event. The Global Center for Success and the Christian Help Center are two organizations that help homeless people transition into housing, jobs, sobriety and more fulfilling lives. This is the first year the two agencies have collaborated on the breakfast, which makes sense, since 99 percent of the clients at the Global Center begin their journey at the Christian Help Center. Executive Director Richard Porter of the Global Center told the crowd that in 2017, there were 402 people living without shelter in Vallejo, 43 percent female, 57 percent male. 67 percent of them were without housing because they could not afford rent; 36 percent did not have enough money to pay moving costs and deposits. There are many reasons why a person can become homeless, Porter said. In Vallejo, 37 percent of the population in 2017 became that way after losing their job. Twenty one percent were evicted from their housing, while 13 percent had substance issues. “Part of the purpose of today is to let you know we have homeless people here,” said Porter. He and his organization hope to raise the community’s consciousness on the issue, he said. He also told success stories. In 2017, of 247 clients, the Global Center helped 32 of them get SSI/SSDI benefits, 47 people got jobs and 105 people got permanent housing. Helenmarie “Cookie” Gordon said she is a success story from the Christian Help Center. She joined her congregation at the Emmanuel Temple Church for the breakfast, along with her son Christopher. Gordon said she had a family, and when she lost her job in Sacramento she didn’t know where to turn. She came to the Bay Area only to find that her rent would double. She dug in and tried to assess what help was out there, but found that since she did not have substance issues or children in the court system, there were not as many options for her. “They wanted to put my children in one shelter, and me in another,” she said. Eventually, though what she views as a blessing from God, the Christian Help Center turned their teen center into a shelter for her and her family. Now she’s in permanent housing, with a great job, and her children are thriving. The morning was spent with some time in prayer, some time eating eggs, sausage, and even cupcakes; and a lot of time sharing gratitude. Little children giggled and raced around, and homeless and formerly homeless people got to give thanks to not only others, but to themselves for persevering. At the end of the event, everyone grabbed hands and made one giant chain in unity, vowing to overcome poverty in Vallejo. With organizations like the Global and Christian Help Centers, that reality comes closer every day.