Religion feature: Lighthouse Mission opening new facility Saturday

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed Lighthouse Mission soup kitchen volunteer Patrick Apodaca has lunch in the soup kitchen with his daughter, Sarah Cordova, and her son, Christopher Cordova. Sarah has also volunteered at the Lighthouse Mission.

Benna Sayyed

The Lighthouse Mission homeless shelter in Clovis has helped countless down-and-out folks for 25 years, but outgrew its premises in 2009.

The mission, which started as a small rundown house rented for $25 a month after two brothers deeply immersed in Bible study became inspired to help others, will soon open additional space.

After a host of construction and financial partners in Clovis provided enough sponsorship to help Lighthouse Mission Executive Director Richard Gomez construct another facility, building began in September 2009.

The fruit of Gomez’ efforts with the support of local sponsors, a new $500,000 facility at 500 L. Casillas Boulevard, is set to open Saturday at 11 a.m.

“We try our best to really help people, not as a job but as a ministry. We try to treat people with dignity no matter what lifestyle they come from or where they’ve been. I think that’s why the lord helped us with this place (the new facility); it’s debt free,” said Gomez.

Saturday’s opening ceremony will consist of a ribbon cutting by the city chamber of commerce, a proclamation by the city, and a tour of the new facility.

While the old shelter houses mothers and their children, the new shelter will provide more space for singles to receive the basics of life.

The mission offers a three-night stay to anybody traveling through or living in Clovis. The new building resembles a college dorm, complete with bunk beds, privacy showers, a social room, and a scenic outdoor patio.

Besides giving those in need food, clothing, counseling and protection from cold, rainy nights, the mission assists people with finding jobs and housing, saving money and enrolling their children in school.

According to Gomez, the homeless population in Clovis varies.

“It’s hard for a single person working a minimum wage job to rent a house. They don’t have to the money and need government assistance and it’s hardly available,” Gomez said.

“Sometimes people make bad choices in life. Who doesn’t make a bad choice some time in their life? But they can overcome that. We can be there to help them if they want the help,” he said.

Gomez said the shelter takes more people in when the weather is rainy. In previous years, more men have spent nights at the mission, but in recent years, the mission has seen an increasing number of women.

Patrick Apodaca, who has volunteered at Lighthouse Mission soup kitchen for almost three years, said, “We could use more donations, but we thank the people that have donated to the new Lighthouse mission. People get to hear the word here every day. The good word is God saves, and we’re trying to save people by helping them with their life.”