Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

An anonymous gift of more than $52,000 may result in the expansion of a locally-operated rescue mission, which, in turn, is predicted to reduce many of the problems related to homelessness in and around Crescent City.

Though it has been helping local homeless and needy people for years, Our Daily Bread Ministries was first granted a permit to operate a rescue mission shelter in June of 2017. It has since given many a place to stay during inclement weather on the Del Norte Coast.

Much has happened since, from the cleanups of several abandoned homeless encampments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court’s ruling that it’s cruel to prohibit public resting for those who have no choice, to the establishment of several small encampments next to the bay at Beachfront Park.

Several meetings have been held about local homeless issues, and a committee was created to look into ending local homelessness.

All the while, Our Daily Bread has been dealing with the issue on the ground, providing direct service from food and shelter to clothing to family Christmas gifts every year.

News that an anonymous donor paid off the ministry’s $52,000 remaining mortgage was a shock and a ray of light to Director Mike Justice, who said the gift will help the entire community, if that community is willing to help.

“We have big plans of making a seven-day-a-week rescue mission,” Justice said, detailing plans for a fully functional kitchen, shelter and day room in the building.

Justice explained the overnight shelter could be supplemented by a day room, where people could get in from the weather during the day, have coffee and stay out of trouble. Currently, people can only remain on the property overnight while the shelter is open.

“We’ll have less incidents in town because if people are warm and full, they tend to not shoplift things and panhandle,” Justice said. “They’ll be able to come back to the shelter at night. We’ll give them a place to just be.”

Justice said while substance addicts might still shoplift, steal and panhandle, the expansion would make the problem of local homelessness less visible to the public and visitors. It would also give police an option besides jail for some people they encounter.

Justice explained that paying the building’s mortgage has always been a struggle on top of the work already being done. He said about four years of payments remained, and the ministry has been operating near the red for some time.

“The money saved is significant,” he said, “and I plan to step it up, but it’s going to require the help of the community.”

Justice said the donation will allow the ministry to close its thrift store, which has been a primary fundraiser but has been failing to generate sufficient income for some time. The space will then be converted to expand the rescue mission.

“We definitely have room for about 20 bunks in there,” he said, noting that he has hired Stover Engineers to come up with basic plans. While the whole endeavor may take a couple years to fully implement, Justice is excited and hopeful that the expansion will benefit the entire county once up to speed.

The donor

Justice said the donation came from a woman who recently lost her husband, but had also saved up some money and shared the vision of the ministry.

“She prayed and God told her what to do,” he said.

Contacted by phone on his birthday Wednesday, Justice called the donation a birthday and Christmas gift, all in one.

“We really needed this help and the Lord provided,” he said. “Now we can focus on the things we’ve always wanted to focus on, the mission of Our Daily Bread, and the rescue mission we so desperately need.”

To help Our Daily Bread or volunteer, call 707-464-7771.