MODESTO — Modesto Gospel Mission and The Salvation Army have yet to talk about whether they can team up to open the city's first day center for the homeless, but the project still has a pulse.
Gospel Mission board Chairman Ken Darby said Tuesday that his nonprofit agency doesn't want to have discussions about the day center until it hires its new executive director in March or April.
Salvation Army business coordinator Brian Aird said his nonprofit remains interested. "I think our commitment is still there," he said Tuesday.
The idea of the boards of the two Modesto organizations discussing whether it makes sense for them to work together on a day center surfaced two weeks ago during a meeting at Turlock Gospel Mission's day center.
The meeting served as a fact-
finding mission and a pep talk. Turlock Gospel Mission officials explained the successes and challenges of their 1-year-old day center and encouraged Modesto officials to open their own center.
Near the end of the meeting, Darby and Capt. Mike Paugh the army's county coordinator agreed to have their boards meet.
Establishing a day center is one of the top five recommendations from the September 2011 report issued by Modesto's Blue Ribbon Panel on Homelessness.
A day center would provide the homeless with a safe place to spend their days and would get them off the streets, out of parks and other public spaces, where they can become a nuisance because of drinking, panhandling and fighting.
Darby said the consensus of his board members is to move forward with talks with The Salvation Army. But he said the mission wants its new executive director to take the lead.
The mission has not had an executive director since longtime directors Vern and Barbara Deatherage retired about 1½ years ago.
Aird said there are advantages to working with the mission. He said the two organizations share the same values and collaborating would send a strong message to the community about the need for a day center.
Paugh said at the Turlock meeting that The Salvation Army does not have the financial resources to establish a day center and that funding and staff would have to come from the mission. But Paugh said the army could provide space at its homeless shelter at Ninth and D streets near downtown.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2316.