Poverello House is a private, nonprofit, nondenominational organization that serves the hungry, homeless, and destitute of Fresno, California. Poverello House began officially in 1973, but its history goes back much further.
In the turbulent 1960's, a young man named Mike McGarvin was on the fast track to becoming one of the many casualties of the decade. Drugs, alcohol, violence and hopelessness were his daily companions, until he found a place in San Francisco called Poverello House. The priest who ran the coffee house asked Mike to volunteer, and the experience changed his life.
The San Francisco Poverello served people who were characterized by poverty and despair. It was a place where they could come to find acceptance, a smile, and unconditional love. There, Mike found the answer to his problems: service to others.
Several years later, Mike married and moved to Fresno. He worked as a photoengraver, but was searching for a way to repay God for saving his life. The answer came when he noticed homeless people on the streets of Fresno. Mike knew what to do; he would hand out peanut butter sandwiches, talk to people, and let them know someone cared. Mike's small ministry soon grew, and others began to help. A storefront building was obtained, and he named it after the place that had saved him in San Francisco: Poverello House.
Poverello House thrived until the building burned down. Mike and his volunteers went back to the streets and alleys. Soon they had another building, but they were evicted, and once again took to the streets. Finally, through the generous contribution of a donor, Poverello House opened in its current site at 412 "F" Street.
From this location, the organization has grown tremendously. In 1992, a major expansion and renovation was completed, more than doubling the size of the building and broadening services. Poverello House now serves three meals a day, 365 days a year, to anyone in need; offers free medical and dental care through the Holy Cross Clinic; provides showers and laundry services to the homeless; serves as a day shelter and safe haven for people on the streets, houses a 28-bed residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation program, and a five-bed transitional home; distributes free clothing; provides recreation, mail service, transportation, and, in 2004, opened the Village of Hope, a temporary overnight shelter for homeless people who want an alternative to the streets.
Recently, Poverello House collaborated with the City of Fresno to open a second village, called The Community of Hope.
People frequently ask us where we receive funding to operate. Since the beginning, the majority of funding has come from the community in the form of individual gifts, memorials, bequests, and contributions from church groups and businesses. Looking at the income chart to the right, you can see that 87.5% of our funding comes from these sources. Were it not for the generous support of our donors, Poverello House would not be able to continue to offer so much to so many.
If you glance at the chart that cites our expenses, you can see that the greatest proportion of our expenditures went toward homeless services, which consists of the many things we do to help people on the streets, such as emergency housing, transportation, recreation, and social services. Our next largest services category is providing food to the hungry. Substance Use Rehab encompasses the costs of running our Resident Program. Clinic/Health Support is what we contribute to the operation of Holy Cross Clinic. The newsletter category is the cost of producing and mailing the Poverello News, our primary means of raising money and awareness. Community Relations refers to volunteer coordination, public relations, and fund-raising activities. Operations represent what it costs to keep everything going: utilities, insurance, repairs, maintenance, fuel, etc. We do our best to keep operation costs at a minimum; however with increasing fuel and utilities costs in the last year, expenses rose from the previous years. Administration is the cost of supervising and coordinating the many facets of Poverello House. If you have any questions, or would like to explore how you can support us, please contact us at 559.498.6988.
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