Amanda Esquibel RBV Intern….Thursday, July 21st, 2016 was the reception for the opening of the new location and year-round service of Operation Hope Vista. This non-profit shelter provides families and single homeless women, with shelter, meals, clothing, case management, and a place to call home.
Beginning in 2003, the Emergency Cold Weather Shelter had only a small gymnasium and barely enough staff to run the organization. From November 1st to March 31st everyone shared limited space that was very cramped with as many people as they could fit, and one bathroom.
In 2004 they expanded their space to a rental warehouse on Orange Street in Vista and stayed there until 2012. Now they are located at what used to be the Vista Community Clinic, with more staff and board members as well as supporters.
The shelter and people were all very welcoming to each person as they entered the reception. The “fiesta” theme made everything even more enjoyable with many bright colors surrounding the area.
Just by a glance, you can tell that it is a safe environment with having a look at the playground, beds, hygienic gift baskets, and other necessities will be provided for the future clients. Sabrina Navarro, Case Manager, shared with me that coming from a previous shelter that was much bigger in size and staff, but did not show as much heart in their work as Operation HOPE Vista will with a smaller staff.
She went on to say that the kids get a lot of attention and has as much access to any toy that any other kid would have including electronics, TV, movies, playground, and other toys. Throughout their time staying there, the employees are trying their best to fulfill their main duty which is to help them obtain a household and fix other problems that will help them stay off the streets for good.
Although most people enjoyed the tacos, fruit, beverages and cupcakes provided, the main reason was to celebrate all those who helped make this cause become a reality, especially to Jean Cole, who recently passed away, the growth and success of this shelter is all in memory of her hard work. She was there from the very beginning and was the driving force of the whole dream.
As Kathleen Higgins, Executive Director, introduces Don Stump, Executive Director of North County Lifeline, and Mayor Ritter, it proves how far these people have come to get to where they are now. Each and everyone one of the employees only wants to spread the word even more and get more people involved in helping the homeless. I could honestly say that this really opened my eyes to a whole other population that needs more attention than it is given. For those who live in a house, have a family, and get an education, we don’t really think about when our next meal is or where you will use the bathroom next. Those questions make us realize how blessed we all are compared to those who constantly worry about these things on a daily basis and I encourage everyone to visit the Operation HOPE Vista on their opening day (August 1st ) to see the love for these families that I saw yesterday at the reception.
Operation Hope-Vista is located at 859 East Vista Way, Vista, CA 92084. Phone number is 760-536-3880. http://www.operationhopeshelter.org