Faith-based group tries to turn abandoned hospital into place of hope

Volunteersof the Matt 25 project, led by Rev. Steve Brown, are trying to resurrect this abandoned hospital at 12th and Thornton streets in Clovis into a location where people in need can get help. (Staff photo: John Eisel)

By Leslie Radford: CNJ staff writer

To look at the old, abandoned building at 12th and Thornton streets — with its graffitied walls and broken windows — one does not see much aspiration; just an eyesore.

But hundreds of area residents see the old hospital — it closed more than 25 years ago — as a center of hope.

That’s according to Dick Powell of Clovis, among those who have logged numerous volunteer hours at the Hope Center.

The mission is to recondition the rundown building so it can provide a refuge for those in need.

Powell, a disabled veteran, got involved in the project after attending an open house held a year ago by Matt 25. The non-profit organization wanted to bring attention to its objectives.

Powell said the restoration process has been a grueling, yet gratifying experience.

“I’m a firm believer in helping others,” Powell said. “That’s the greatest gift of all — to help others. That’s what God wants us to do. I truly believe that.”

At first sight, Powell said he was disgusted to see the shape of the building, especially what was depicted in spray paint on the inside walls. He dedicates himself to scraping graffiti from the tiled walls on the first floor.

“Our vision is to create a place where people who need help for whatever reason can be ministered and given the assistance they need,” said Rev. Steve Brown, who was hired to lead the Matt 25 project a couple of years ago with his experience in ministry and construction.

Matt 25 (a reference to the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew) has big plans for the building that include cooperating with local ministries to create one location where any person can go to have their needs met.

Facilitating food, clothing, housing, medication and medical treatment, social work, counseling, job training, life skills development and rehabilitation support are all involved.

Brown said the concept for the Matt 25 ministry was initiated with the coming of evangelist Tony Evans from Dallas in 2001 as part of the Communities for Christ Crusade held in the Clovis-Portales area.

“He told (a member of the community) that God had a purpose for this building,” Brown said. “I believe this is it.”

Brown said the Hope Center plans to open its doors by the end of the summer with future plans to provide a community shelter.

Powell prays the project will make positive changes in people’s lives.

“Even if it touches one person’s life, it’s all been worth it,” he said.