H-SANTA MARIA

Feb 24, 2012 1:49 AM by Ariel Wesler

Project Change works to change lives

A sober-living facility in Santa Maria is reaching out to people who need help getting back on their feet. Project Change takes in the homeless, those with alcohol and drug addiction, and ex convicts.

For ex-convict Frank Pintye, Project Change is his labor of love.

"We house them, feed them, clothe them, help them find jobs, help them get back on their feet," Pintye said.

The non profit organization has taken in more than 1100 people in the last five years and has achieved an 80 percent success rate.

"They've come in with nothing and they've left having an apartment, job, insurance, a car, transportation and what not," Pintye said.

"I'm very lucky to have had this place," said 19 year old Nathan Oberly. He's been with Project Change for six months after facing family troubles at home. He now works at Walmart

"When I did come here, I sort of had to straighten myself out and Frank sort of helped me become an adult," Oberly said.

Pintye runs a 44-week program based on biblical principles focused on goal-setting and improving self-esteem. By weening addicts off drugs and alcohol, he says they begin to see a new life for themselves.

"Once they get that started, it's like lighting a fire. It just continues to go and go," he said.

Pintye asks those with a job to pay $100 a week for room and board, but he says that doesn't even begin to cover operating costs.

"There's months where we only get $800 or $900 from the clients but the costs are $3000 a month," Pintye said.

Despite the costs, Pintye believes rehabilitation is a better use of money than being behind bars.

"You figure $36,000 to provide for 14 individuals or would you rather spend $36,000 to house one individual."

Individuals like Oberly, who have no other place to call home.

"I would pretty much be living out of my car," he said.

"I'll work two jobs, three jobs. I don't care," said Pintye. "I'll do whatever it takes to keep this program open."

For more information on Project Change, or if you'd like to donate to the cause, click here

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