BBQ to raise money for local homeless shelter

Thousands of families have called the Bakersfield Homeless Center their home over the years and next week TV-17 and Halliburton will host a barbecue benefiting those in need.
Thousands of families have called the Bakersfield Homeless Center their home over the years and next week TV-17 and Halliburton will host a barbecue benefiting those in need.

Money raised will be used to maintain operations at the Bakersfield Homeless Center. On an average night, 200 people take advantage of the facilities there. 

The center is there for many families, including Jacqueline Meares.

"Me and my husband together, we lived on the streets for a while in a tent," Meares said.

She came to the homeless center, which she says is not always an easy thing to do.

"I was scared to come to the homeless shelter at first and it's not anything like you see on TV or the awful stories you hear about," she said. "You know the people are very helpful."

That's why administrators at the homeless center say they feel lucky to be in such a generous community like Bakersfield. Carol Ann Wooton is in charge of administrative services at the homeless center and says a meal purchased at the BBQ next week goes a long way towards helping those in need.

"Just by doing something they do every day, buy a hamburger and a drink and chips, and help somebody else in the process," Wooton said.

More than 1,800 people were sheltered here at the homeless shelter last year and nearly half of those were children.

That statistic includes children like Meares' 4-year-old son, Daniel who has been coming to the center since he was 2 months old.

"He has a toy box, he has a dirt pile in the yard where he's allowed to do his trucks, he's got grass," Meares said. 
 
It's more than a place to just play and sleep. It's an opportunity to feed the hungry.

"We actually end up serving a lot more, closer to between 4,500 and 5,000 if you count all the people that come here for meals because they're struggling with hunger," Louis Medina,a grant writer for the homeless center said.   

The center offers three meals a day for anyone in the community who needs a little extra help.

Medina also said President Obama's federal stimulus program called, "Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing" has helped to increase turnover at the center in Bakersfield.

The BBQ to support the shelter will be held next Wednesday from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the corner of 22nd and M, right across from the TV-17 studios.
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