A new daytime shelter for homeless women and their children that was more than three years in the making has finally opened.
Dozens of residents and representatives from St. Anne’s Catholic Church, Catholic Charities of Stockton and the Salvation Army were on hand to celebrate the grand opening of St. Anne’s Place at 531 W. Lockeford St. Thursday morning.
Father Brandon Ware, pastor at St. Anne’s, said the new shelter will fill a hole in services already provided in Lodi by other community organizations.
Ware said other groups, including the Women’s Shelter of Lodi, do provide overnight services for the homeless, but during the day they have nowhere to go.
“It became clear to me that Lodi is well-cared for,” he said Thursday. “There are great social services provided for men and women here. The only hole was a fouror five-hour period of the day, when the homeless — specifically women and children — have nowhere to go. We thought, ‘Maybe that’s where St. Anne’s fits.’”
Ware said the idea to create such a place came to him about 3 1/2 years ago. St. Anne’s had a small house next to its parish school that was at one time used for social services.
However, the small building was in such disrepair that a building inspector told Ware it needed to be demolished because it was dangerous and might harm someone if it were to collapse.
Ware and the staff at St. Anne’s began working about a year later with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army to open a new space in Lodi.
While great ideas were presented, Ware said he wanted to provide something that was unique to local social services and the Lodi community.
“People suggested starting a soup kitchen or a job training site,” he said. “There were lots of great ideas we came up with. But I thought it would be silly for us to present something that had already been done in the community.”
Ware said St. Anne’s, Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army decided to become partners in creating St. Anne’s Place. The church would provide the space, Catholic Charities would provide the workforce and volunteers, and the Salvation Army would provide the people seeking services.
Ware said there were two other spaces in Lodi he had eyed for St. Anne’s Place, but nothing materialized. Then the space at 531 W. Lockeford St., a 900-square-foot former salon that had been vacant for at least six months, was found.
Ware said Thursday was a joyful celebration not only for the church, Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army, but for the entire Lodi community.
“It’s been a challenging two and a half years because I thought we wouldn’t hold up our part of the deal (finding the space),” he said. “But this has become a beautiful spot where women and their children can stop by during the day.”
Elvira Ramirez, executive director of Catholic Charities of Stockton, said St. Anne’s Place will be a place where homeless women and children can use computers for job searches or emailing family. They will also be able to use the address to receive mail or use the telephone, and can meet county social workers or counselors at the shelter.
“This place was born out of our faith and values, but will be open to everyone in the community, especially women and children, because that that particular population is really going to feel the need for these kinds of services,” she said. “This will be a place that can suit their needs, but most of all, this will be a place just where they can rest.”
Joanna Galindo, Catholic Charities’ director of services, said the shelter will be open Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., until funding can be raised to keep it open all day, every day.
“My job will be to make sure we get the right people in here,” she said. “People who know what they are doing, not only with their mind and skills, but with their hearts. We’re going to make sure everyone who comes here will be safe.”
While St. Anne’s Place is relatively empty except for tables and chairs right now, the space will be filled shortly. United Way presented Catholic Charities with a $2,500 check Thursday. Ramirez said much of that donation, the first for St. Anne’s Place, will be used to purchase computers.
For more information or to donate to St. Anne’s Place, call St. Anne’s Catholic Church at 209-369-1907 or Catholic Charities at 209-444-5900.