How you can help those at the Fresno Mission during the holiday season

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- At Fresno Mission, Thanksgiving dinner is still on the table.

At any given time, around 350 people experiencing homelessness stay in the nonprofit's emergency housing.

"People who have been on the street for a number of years to people who are exiting prison to families who have just lost an apartment," says Fresno Mission CEO Matt Dildine.

James Waheeb says he spent time living on the streets and in the Fresno County jail after being arrested for robbery.

"Came straight to jail from here," he said.

Waheeb is participating in the Fresno Mission Men's Academy, an 18-month program that provides rehab, work therapy and career development.

"From now to then, it's just basically staying on track and keeping my focus on bettering myself for me, and for me to better myself for my family," he said.

While in this program, he reflects on the things that made him who he is.

"I was a teen parent," he said. "Had three daughters by the time I turned 17 years old. The gang lifestyle, I jumped in it as a young kid, probably like nine years old."

With just seven months under his belt, he's already taken on a lead role for the organization's community response team.

"We don't want to just change somebody's address, we want to change their life," Dildine said.

Participants and families are celebrating all that they've overcome with a thanksgiving meal and are grateful for the donations.

"They just pull up, they come in with their turkeys, stuffing and pies and stuff like that and they really do make an impact," Waheeb said.

As the temperature continues to drop and winter quickly approaches, Fresno Mission is asking for blankets and jackets to help people overcoming life insecurity, homelessness, and addiction.
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