The Arvin Navigation Center celebrates its grand opening to serve the community of those in need. They will be providing many resources to the homeless to help them get back on their feet.
“Our goal is to get them off the street permanently and into affordable housing” said Charlie Van De Voorde, Program Manager at Flood Ministries Arvin Navigation Center.
Some community members are referred by the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, Arvin Police Department, or Clinica Sierra Vista. There is also an outreach team that goes out in the street to look for people in need; they are out in the field to bring people in and to provide help.
Individuals first come in when they ring the doorbell on the side door. Their bags and luggage are checked before they come in through the door. The following are some of the many resources provided at the navigation center:
- They have a heater where clothes are put in to kill bed bugs, lice, or anything related. The clothes are then put in a washer and dryer.
- The staff is in charge of the food pantry. They make sandwiches, provide snacks, and they will also be barbequing for the homeless once every two weeks.
- They will have a resource room available for them where they can watch movies, read books that were donated by the Lamont library, and play board games.
- A barber will be coming in once a month to the navigation center.
Aside from all the resources, there will also be a store with clothes that will teach them life skills. Fake money will be provided to individuals and they will be ringed up. The goal for this is to get them used to doing normal society things.
Lamont residents will also be welcomed. A bus pass will be provided to them. They have partnered with Arvin transit to create a bus pass for clients to receive services at the Arvin Navigation Center. Landers are in great need of donations.
“It takes 17 interactions before you build that trust, so I am hoping that it is food and sitting down talking with them. I am hoping that they can feel like this is a home, and see that we have plans and we have futures for them. We do not want to be a center, we want to be someone’s home, so hopefully, they will like these services and keep coming back to eventually move on to the next step,” said Van De Voorde.
Van De Voorde explained, at first, there are clients that are not as receptive, but they keep coming back. They will keep providing that base to open an opportunity to keep them coming back.
A mobile shower is expected to arrive in September. It will be two regular showers and an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) shower. They will also be having ice machines and PCs coming in soon. The PCs will be used to help community members build resumes.
The Arvin Navigation Center wants to reduce the stigma that the homeless are dangerous or dirty. They want to build community trust by sitting down and talking to them and giving them the support that they need.
“We would like the community to prepare home-cooked meals, interact with them, sit down and eat with them, and get to know them. We want to reduce the stigma of homelessness of someone with no house or that they are just dirty. There is some type of trauma that leads up to that. Once you sit down, you get to know the person you learn that they go much deeper than as you see when you’re passing by,” said Andrew Dominguez, Site Supervisor at Flood Ministries Arvin Navigation Center.
The Arvin Navigation Center is looking forward to connecting with the community. They welcome everyone to join them and provide help to local homeless members in the community.