Friday, September 01, 2006

Homeless Program Honored

Homeless Program Honored
By Andrea E. Garcia

FAIRFIELD - A unified community led Mission Solano Rescue Mission to be chosen as one of the best charities in America.

Executive director Ron Marlette had a vision eight years ago to embrace community members and create an environment where services for the homeless could be provided. Marlette was overwhelmed after hearing the Fairfield-based nomadic homeless sheltering program was chosen as a 2006 Samaritan Award honoree by the Acton Institute, a think-tank organization based in Michigan.

"This is really a congratulations to the community for Mission Solano achieving this in eight short years and to be recognized nationally," he said. "There is no way we could have done this ourselves. It's a testament to the passion of the community and churches who opened up their doors."

Mission Solano, which provides emergency shelter, food, clothing, counseling education and job-skills training to homeless men, women and children throughout Solano County, was established in 1998 by Marlette, once a man addicted to drugs and alcohol.

His goal was to make changes in a person's life and to put aside differences to achieve that mark. Today, Marlette feels humble to know someone "from the streets" can help the community make a change for the good.

"We persevered and we won the respect of our community," he said. "We said we are not giving up and we will fight for those who can't fight for themselves."

The annual Samaritan Award is based on several criteria, including financial stewardship, the incorporation of faith into the program and evaluation of results.

Out of the 20 categories the shelter was evaluated on, including practice principles, outcome measuring and change theory, Mission Solano scored "excellent" on 12 and "better" on eight.

The shelter is working on plans to build a $9 million, 30,300-square-foot homeless services complex named The Bridge to Life Center. The facility will provide a holistic, long-term residence program for up to 163 homeless individuals, including men, women and families.

Support for the anticipated facility comes from city of Fairfield and from HomeAid Northern California, a non-profit arm of Home Builders Association of Northern California.

Reach Andrea E. Garcia at 427-6953 or

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