VISTA — North Coast Church recently spent five weeks and over $200,000 earlier this spring renovating Operation HOPE’s North County homeless shelter for families and single women.
North Coast Church, a large church with campuses throughout North County, including Vista, selected Operation HOPE as the featured nonprofit for its annual Serve Your City project.
While the Serve Your City project usually only involves a weekend where in-person church services are canceled to instead provide hands-on services within the community, the church decided to spend several weeks making long-lasting improvements to the shelter.
First founded in 2003, Operation HOPE-North County has been located at its current location in Vista for the last 10 years, offering a 12-bedroom, 45-bed, high-barrier shelter, complete with case management and supportive services that help clients to build life skills and learn self-sufficiency. Originally a seasonal shelter during the winter, Operation HOPE transitioned to a year-round facility in 2016 for families with children and single women experiencing homelessness.
“A lot of these families are families that people don’t see — they’re living out of their cars, they’re going to work, their kids are enrolled in our local schools — they’re from North County,” said Jimmy Figueroa, executive director of Operation HOPE. “We get the opportunity to provide them shelter and get them back on their feet, but also we get to see them… we restore hope.”
Operation HOPE also offers a food pantry and a boutique for local families in need.
Over 150 volunteers and staff from the church remodeled and furnished the shelter’s kitchen, community room, youth room, bedrooms, case management offices, shelter office and hallway, along with extensive landscaping projects around the shelter’s campus. While renovations were underway, the church paid to host its residents at the Hyatt Place Hotel in the meantime.
Operation HOPE celebrated North Coast Church and its shelter’s finished renovations with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 16.
“We feel blessed that we can work here for God but also be part of this community,” said Connor McFadden, community services pastor of North Coast Church, at the event. “We love to see how Vista works together and we’re fortunate to be part of this.”
Figueroa attributed the shelter’s success to its community partners, including North Coast Church, and the shelter’s staff and volunteers.
Clients, on average, spend about four months at the shelter before graduating to permanent housing. Jeannette Bello, who has spent nearly three months at the shelter, looks forward to the future as she raises her infant son with the newfound confidence that she gained from her time there.
“This has been one of the biggest blessings for me,” she said.
Bello has struggled with substance abuse and homelessness for years. Her infant son is her seventh child and will be the first she gets to raise after receiving help from Operation HOPE, which has also provided parenting classes to Bello and other clients in similar situations.
“I’m learning to become a mom, to be self-sufficient and learning how to love myself,” she said. “That’s all thanks to the classes we have here.”
Bello and fellow shelter resident Alani Chavez shared their stories at the June 16 event and together cut the ribbon signifying the shelter’s completed renovations.
Chavez, also a mother to a young son, looks forward to getting her high school diploma and eventually hopes to obtain a master’s degree in the medical field.
“I’ve been able to become self-sufficient and gain my confidence back,” she said. “I’d like to thank Operation HOPE for this opportunity.”
Correction: This story has been updated to correct Alani Chavez’s last name.