Courtesy photo The staff at the Matt 25 Hope Center are working to repair damage caused when vandals broke into the building Saturday night. Executive Director Steve Reshetar said there was graffiti painted and damage done throughout the building.
For the staff of Matt 25 Hope Center, it’s not so much the cost of the damage caused by vandals over the weekend that gets to them, it’s the emotional impact and time-consuming job of cleaning it up.
Around 11 a.m. Sunday, police were called to the center at 1200 Thornton Street for a report of criminal damage.
According to a police report, officers checked the building to ensure the suspects were not still there. During the sweep, they discovered gang-style graffiti throughout the building, a broken vending machine, shattered display cases, food all over the walls and ceilings and tables overturned.
Clovis Police Chief Steve Sanders said two 13-year-olds have been identified as suspects in the incident so far, and the investigation is ongoing with charges pending.
Executive Director Steve Reshetar said though he hasn’t come up with an exact dollar amount, the damage was extensive.
Police estimated more than $1,000 damage, $400 of which was just in broken glass on the vending machine and display cases that belonged to the Boy Scouts.
Reshetar said the graffiti throughout the building was vulgar and juvenile and the suspects painted over murals a youth group had done in the basement.
He said he is thankful, because he had some paint that had been donated, so staff have been able to paint over the graffiti with minimal cost.
“We’ve cleaned up a lot of it. Down in the Boy Scout area they busted up the display cases, (and) I don’t have the money to get them replaced,” he said. “It’s just a lot of work.”
Reshetar said Sunday night the building was hit again. This time the suspects bent a metal gate trying to access the parking lot behind the building.
A second report estimated about $1,000 in damage to the gate.
Matt 25 is a “one-stop shop” for social services and non-profit agencies, Reshetar said. The building, which served as a hospital in years past, houses 11 entities.
There have been incidents in which the building has been tagged with graffiti over the years and other minor issues, but this weekend’s break-in was by far the worst, he said.
“In a lot of ways, I feel pretty fortunate. I’ve been here five years now,” Reshetar said. “We’ve had a couple little minor break-ins, but nothing with this much destruction.”
He said he would like to see the suspects identified so they can be helped through some of the programs the center offers, such as a life skills class that addresses arrested development issues.
“I’d really like the opportunity to get them in our class and help them understand and get some insight into why they’re doing it — find out what’s going on in their lives that they’ve got this hostility,” he said.
“I’d like to let those teens (the suspects) talk to these teens (who painted the murals) about what they did to their hard work. I’d like them to get a sense of what they caused … the heartache.”
Reshetar encouraged anyone with information to call police.
Clovis Police Department: 769-1921.