H-LOS OSOS

Dec 11, 2010 10:02 PM by Danielle Lerner

Fundraiser helps Maxine Lewis Shelter help the homeless

With the economy still struggling to recover, services for the homeless are needed now more than ever. The Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter in San Luis Obispo is doing its best to keep up with the demand and on Saturday, people in Los Osos did their best to make sure the shelter can help as many people as possible.

There was plenty of entertainment and plenty of holiday cheer as the fifth annual Needs 'N Wishes Holiday Fundraiser took over the South Bay Community Center.

"Events like this are just imperative for us to continue serving the people that we're servicing now," said Dee Torres, homeless services director for Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County. "Right now we're seeing more people than ever before, we have more children."

Aside from meeting a growing need the facility itself could use a facelift. The seven trailers making up the Maxine Lewis Shelter were supposed to be a short-term solution. Twenty years later they are still in use.

"We're trying to provide, you know, a hand up for these people not a hand out," said John Ashbaugh, a San Luis Obispo city councilman, "get them into some kind of job counseling, work training programs."

All of the money raised from the silent auction, raffle and food sales will help keep those programs going, and while the homeless may seem a world away at times volunteers say the cause hits close to home.

"They could very well be us and they are very close to being us," said Elsie Deitz, a volunteer.

Twenty percent of the money raised will go towards the building of a new shelter that will combine the Maxine Lewis night shelter and the Prado Day Center. The new site will be on South Higuera Street in San Luis Obipso.

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