Torres Shelter Holds First Fundraiser Since Pandemic – Chico Enterprise-Record

CHICO – In its first in-person event since the pandemic, the Torres Shelter presented its latest fundraising campaign to the residents of Lower Bidwell Park with ice cream, games and live music.

The campaign for the Torres Shelter, a program of the True North Housing Alliance, has a goal of raising $400,000 in 100 days, also known as the “four in 100” campaign.

“A lot of people in the community haven’t been able to connect with us in a long time due to covid so this event is more of a way to connect and provide a fun space where people can get to know us while sharing ice cream and music,” Torres Shelter executive director Taylor Storey said. “I mean, today’s event is not designed to be a big money-maker.

  • Bubbles and water guns were provided for people to beat the heat at Lower Bidwell Park for the Ice Cream Social Benefit for the Torres Shelter on Saturday, June 25, 2022 in Chico, Calif. (Kimberly Morales/Enterprise-Record)

  • Henry Bird-Postler performs at Lower Bidwell Park for Ice...

    Henry Bird-Postler performs at Lower Bidwell Park for the Ice Cream Social Benefit for the Torres Shelter on Saturday June 25, 2022 in Chico, CA. (Kimberly Morales/Enterprise-Record)

  • Roger Parnell, left and Kris Parnell, right eat ice cream...

    Roger Parnell, left and Kris Parnell, right eat ice cream at Lower Bidwell Park during the Ice Cream Social Benefit for the Torres Shelter on Saturday, June 25, 2022 in Chico, Calif. (Kimberly Morales/Enterprise-Record)

So far, the campaign has raised $139,605.27, which puts the group at 35% of its goal before the end of the first month.

With the return of anti-camping order enforcement, the Torres Shelter is seeing its numbers increase.

“It’s a good thing, we have the beds available and we want to share the space and we’re trying to raise funds so we can continue to provide quality services to people who come seeking shelter,” Storey said.

The shelter expects to receive more people seeking shelter as the Comanche Creek Greenway begins to be enforced, operations manager Jacque Lewkowicz said.

“We serve everyone, you can check in as long as you are a resident of Butte County and looking for shelter,” Lewkowicz said. “You can even check in if you test positive for something because we have a separate program that you enter so we really work with anyone who is experiencing homelessness and needs shelter.”

When a person enters the shelter looking for shelter, the first goal is to stabilize them before a person and their case manager can focus on finding a source of income and then a form of permanent housing, Lewkowicz said.

“When they come in, they’re from the streets, so their nutrition and hygiene isn’t where it should be, so we’re literally there to stabilize them,” Lewkowicz said. “We have showers, laundry and clothes if they need them with clothes and a bed that they can have every day.”

When people shelter in Torres, they’re doing their part to be responsible to do their part moving forward, Lewkowicz said.

“I implore people to come and visit the shelter and see who we serve,” Lewkowicz said, “Usually there is a stigma surrounding homelessness and when they walk through the door that stigma goes down.”

The event included raffles for artwork donated by local artists as well as gift cards donated by local businesses such as Bacio Catering, Great Harvest and Barnes and Noble, Storey said.

“I’m really overwhelmed with the community effort for this event,” Storey said. “We had a good problem, we had too many volunteers and it’s nice to see the desire of people to help us and to believe in what we are doing.

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