published on March 14, 2017 - 5:57 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
The Poverello House broke ground Tuesday morning on its new food storage warehouse, operations center and community housing improvement project.


This first phase of much-needed updates to the facility are part of the nonprofit’s $2.5 million Raise the Roof campaign, for which $1.7 million has already been donated.

Upon completion in October 2017, the 19,000 square-foot all-metal, insulated warehouse will feature on-site commercial-grade refrigeration and freezer units; ample space for two-way industry-standard forklift traffic; new rack and shelving units; turnaround space for large tractor-trailer deliveries and donations, and an easily accessible public donation drop-off point.

In addition to the warehouse, the Poverello House will also consolidate its Village and Community of Hope housing sheds and update the overnight accommodations by adding lighting and permanent restroom and shower facilities. A new Multi-agency Access Partners (MAP) Point will also be added in place of the current dilapidated men’s warehouse building, which will be demolished along with the old food storage warehouse.

“This is a historic occasion in the life of Poverello House and for the City of Fresno,” Poverello House Executive Director Cruz Avila said. “The new state-of-the-art facility will enhance the quality of life, services and day-to-day operations for our community and those who find themselves in need.”

The project marks a pivotal change for the nonprofit, Avila said, which began 44 years ago with founder, Papa Mike, passing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the hungry. Today, the Poverello House offers much more than a meal. From emergency needs like food and clothing to other needs such as rehab services, medical and dental care, transportation and linkage to housing and other organizations, the Poverello House has expanded to provide as much as possible to those who find themselves in a bind and often make Poverello their first stop.

Chris Hansen, now a Poverello House employee, said he first came to the Poverello House in 2014 when he made the decision to get clean and sober after spending some time in jail. Now, he is proud to be a part of the community that helped turn his life around just a few short years ago.

“The Poverello House is a beautiful place,” Hansen said. “It helped me and it’s helped many other people, and I’m very pleased to be part of this.”

“I got my life back thanks to the Poverello House and now I get to help out here along with all the other beautiful people who are here and I enjoy it. I love it,” he added.

Mayor Lee Brand said the city is proud is stand behind the Poverello House and its efforts. The project, Brand said, will make it possible for Poverello House to better serve people like Hansen.

“Fresno is a city of extreme wealth and extreme poverty and this community always finds a way to come together,” Brand said. “What I’ve learned in my eight years on the council and my 90 days so far as a mayor is that no one can do it in isolation, we have to do it together. It’s the power of collaboration that makes things happen and Fresno is so generous from our government agencies to our nonprofits, to our faith-based organizations and private individuals who are making huge gains in the city.”

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