The Oakdale Rescue Mission (ORM) — a lifeline for many of the city’s disadvantaged population — is receiving the finishing touches of a much-needed set of improvements courtesy of designated HEAP (Homeless Emergency Aid Program) funds.
In June, the Oakdale City Council authorized the release of $65,000 in HEAP funding to the ORM for the purposes of:
· Constructing two patio covers with concrete floors in order to provide safe walking and handicap accessible surfaces.
· Painting the patio covers and house to match. The patios create a covered area to protect the homeless from the sun in the summer and the rain in the winter. The covered area will also be used as a location where clothing and hygiene products could be gathered and distributed.
· Constructing two pergola type structures in order to provide additional covered areas for members of the homeless population using the site during the day.
· Replace the garage lounge doors (two-door double garage) and garage door openers.
· Side yard improvements, including the installation of a new gate along the alley that will allow users of the facility to pass through to park their bikes and temporary cart storage.
While most of the work has been completed, the cement work is ongoing. According to ORM Director Pamela Kelly, since acquiring the new permanent location, this is the first set of improvements on the facility.
“We didn’t want to spend our donor money on a building when we need it for services,” Kelly explained but the much-needed improvements are appreciated.
Prior to moving to the new location in 2018, the ORM moved from place to place.
“We were here and there,” Kelly said, adding, “God showed us this home and through many miracles we ended up here.”
Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer was pleased to administer the HEAP funds, saying, “We really appreciate the Oakdale Rescue Mission’s efforts to serve our homeless population.”
Throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, the ORM has kept its doors open to serve the community in a variety of ways.
“We serve the community in many ways people don’t know,” Kelly said.
Rising unemployment and struggles related to diminished income have made the ORM all the more vital to its disadvantaged community members.
They provide services that include resource referrals, dog food distribution, food resources and much more.
Before founding the ORM, Kelly admitted to sharing some of the same prejudices and beliefs many do regarding the homeless.
“I used to drive by Dorada Park and see the homeless and think, ‘why don’t they get a job?’ but then I stopped and had a conversation with a few and it changed my thinking. Calling them transients is a myth. Most of Oakdale’s homeless were born and raised right here in Oakdale and graduated from Oakdale High.”
The ORM serves approximately 35 to 40 community members a week with many of those numbers being regulars with very few actual transients.
Donations are always welcome.
For a full list of available services or needs, go to www.oakdalerescuemission.org.