New leader taking reins at Modesto homeless shelter

The Salvation Army is undergoing a leadership change at its Berberian Homeless and Transitional Living Shelter near downtown Modesto.

Walt Wycoff, the shelter’s operations manager, and Capt. Lisa Smith, who ran the shelter’s programs, have left. Wycoff retired last week after many years of service. Smith has been reassigned to The Salvation Army in Las Vegas, where she will be the assistant social services director. She was in Modesto for two years.

The group has hired Kalvin Bizek to replace them and oversee the shelter, according to Brian Aird, business coordinator for the group’s Modesto Citadel Corps.

Aird said Bizek has experience with The Salvation Army, including overseeing its Bellevue, Wash., operations as a layperson. Aird said Bizek was working as a midlevel manager in the Laughlin-Bullhead City area along the Nevada-Arizona border for a national home improvement retailer before coming to Modesto.

Wycoff worked for the Modesto Citadel Corps’ food distribution center for nine years and at the shelter for five years. Before that, he and his wife, Betty, were Salvation Army officers for 20 years, according to the Modesto Citadel Corps newsletter.

Betty Wycoff manages the food distribution center and will continue to do so. Walt Wycoff will continue to conduct the Sunday chapel services at the shelter and may volunteer at the distribution center.

The group operates a 100-bed shelter for homeless men and women, as well as two transitional living programs for the homeless. It also has a free clinic offering dental, eye, women’s health and medical services. The clinic has been offering dental and eye services to shelter clients.

Aird said the group is making significant progress in opening the women’s health and medical services. Soroptimist International of Modesto and Soroptimist International of Modesto North recently donated $1,000 and $750, respectively, to the women’s health clinic.