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Missionaries pitch in to spruce up shelter

September 26, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Can you spare some lumber for a fence? How about some outdoor paint, window screens or children's outdoor toys? How about some church missionaries?

If you can, House of Hope can sure use them.

House of Hope is a shelter for homeless women in El Centro. It has been in place since 1984 and is operated by Catholic Charities.

Alma Gúzman is House of Hope's director. She said homeless women with children can stay in the facility for 30 to 90 days and get three meals a day.

In return, the women are expected to finish high school and seek some type of social welfare assistance. CalWORKs pays for young children to go to day care while older ones go to school.


"From here I send them to get their GED and learn to speak English," Gúzman said.

Though Gúzman said most of the work around the property is done by staff, on Tuesday, a group of Mormon missionaries was busy at work.

Community volunteer Rose Banks said the missionaries were cleaning the outside of the premises, the warehouse, the patio, the eaves, the outdoor toys and washing the outside of the house. In addition, they were trimming trees, mowing, edging and painting the interior.

Leading the missionaries' efforts was Elder Wright, who said he is from northern Utah. He said all the missionaries are between ages 18 and 21.

The work of the missionaries is not on behalf of local churches, Wright said. Rather, each person decides on his own whether to volunteer for a mission and the church decides where to send the missionaries for two years.

"We don't decide where we go," he said. "We just decide if we want to."

Wright said the church then calls and sends the young people where needed, anywhere in the world.

Wright said the missionaries helping at House of Hope are assigned to the San Diego/Imperial County area and are staying in different parts of the Valley, but all are associated with what he called "three buildings."

"It's all the same church," he said.

The work they do takes up much of their time and they do not watch television or read during their missions. They spend time reading the Scriptures and teaching them to others.

"We do this full-time," Wright said. "It's a time-out in our lives. When we go home, we resume our lives."

To donate materials to House of Hope, call 352-1182.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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