After bringing the building up to the Fire Code, the New Porterville Rescue Mission (NPRM) is now ready to enter into phase two of the renovation project which will bring the entire facility into ADA compliance. 

With renovation plans ready to pick up from City Hall, NPRM staff and residents are now reaching out to the community for their support.

“We want to reach out to the community,” said Tracy Parks, NPRM’s case manager. “We’re looking for contractors right now that can donate materials and their time to start phase two.”

NPRM has completed phase one which consisted of lots of plumbing work, the installation of a sprinkler system and exit signs, consistent night watch and quite a bit of electrical work. With the help they received from the community, phase one was successfully completed, and the NPRM staff is now ready to move forward.

Phase two for NPRM’s renovation project will consist of bringing their bathrooms, ramp ways, and parking lot into ADA compliance. NPRM will also need to widen the doorways and install a commercial stove into the kitchen. 

“There’s a lot of need,” said Esther Ramirez, NPRM’s director, owner and on-site pastor.

In addition to the renovations for ADA compliance, the city has requested the NPRM screen the property with the use of landscaping, fencing or screening and masonry. NPRM staff stated a brick wall may need to be constructed at the rear of the property to help shield the view of the mission from pedestrians using the Rails to Trails walkway. 

“We’re in a situation where if they (the NPRM residents) are not staying here, they would be staying in the streets somewhere,” said Fred Beltran, the spokesperson for the NPRM. “Phase Two would accommodate for more housing here, at least a few more beds.”

Over the last few months, seven different people have been placed in new housing through the NPRM. Beltran stated this is a good track record of success for the past four years since the NPRM was established.

When it came to fundraising, the mission has run into some issues after the outbreak of COVID-19 in Tulare County. 

“COVID-19 has been a big challenge for us,” said Ramirez.

While most of the fundraising efforts are currently on halt for the safety of staff and their residents, the mission offers some services to the community as a way to bring in some revenue for the facility. 

The NPRM has a lawn service that’s available for all types of lawn work. It has its own equipment and transportation for job sites. The mission also offers clean-up services and accepts recyclables as donations. The NPRM is currently looking for anyone who’s willing to train or hire their residents and teach them technical trade skills.

“Training is vital,” said Beltran. “Any accounts we can pick up to clean up yards, clean up trash, those kinds of things, would really help. What we’re looking for is outside influencers, movers and shakers, who can help do fundraisers for (the mission(, that way (Esther) can continue to run her program here without having to worry.”

Ultimately, the NPRM would like to relocate the facility now at 30 S. A. St. and use the current office for intake purposes or as a satellite office for the business side of things. An anonymous donor has stated he will help the NPRM relocate, if a new property at an appropriate location can be found.

“Our goal is to get another facility so we can actually fit all of the people that are here and outside, and maybe even more,” said Beltran.

But for now, the NPRM must focus on the current location and renovate the facility for ADA compliance. The biggest need at the NPRM right now is finding a contractor who’s willing to donate their time to supervise a crew for renovations. The NPRM is asking the community for help with materials and funding. Staff from the mission has stated they’re more than willing to open their financial books, share statistics and give tours to any potential donor who asks. The mission is also looking for a few board members, specifically a Treasurer and At-Large members.

If all goes well, the NPRM is realistically hoping to finish Phase Two in three to four months, dependent upon permits being accepted and a contractor being found. Ramirez stated it’s crucial for this project to be expedited for the safety and well-being of her residents.

“It’s really important that we expedite this phase,” said Ramirez. “It is crucial to expedite this phase. Bottom line is it is priority right now to keep these doors open, otherwise all of these people are going to be out there. It’s a really pressing situation.” 

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