Local hardware store owner goes the extra mile for SB’s homeless
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Alan Bleecker, the father of Westmont alumnus Jordan Bleecker, ‘14, is a business owner and is the president of the Milpas Community Association. The Milpas Community Association works hand in hand with C3H, the Central Coast Collaboration on Homelessness, in the city of Santa Barbara to get homeless men and women off the streets and back to a normal and healthy lifestyle.
These organizations are funded by the city of Santa Barbara to find the main problems with homelessness here and to offer funding for those who need it.
With this collaboration, as well as many other great groups in the city, Santa Barbara is the number one community in the country for helping homelessness. Bleecker said, “It’s about giving them a hand up instead of a hand out.”
Bleecker spends the majority of his free time working with the community and stepping in alongside homeless men and women and building a personal relationship with them.
One thing that makes Bleecker’s approach so different in regards to his approach to homelessness is that he looks at it from a business perspective.
“It’s not about giving a certain amount of money to a group of people and hoping that they will be better. We want results and we want them to get better so we get in there and come alongside them to show them that we care,” said Bleecker.
Bleecker’s compassion for the homeless community has helped reduce the homeless population by over half in the past few years.
He believes that the best approach to helping the homeless is giving them tough love; It’s better than ignoring them or giving them money.
By going out and standing with homeless people, Bleecker has built strong relationships with the individuals for years, and is comfortable telling them that the ways they behave or spend their money and destroy their bodies is not helpful to the community.
Bleecker states, “There is something that everyone needs. It’s not money, food, alcohol, or drugs. It is Jesus, and we all need it.”
Bleecker’s mission is to bring men and women to Jesus through his works and by showing them that he is not just another passerby, but rather someone who wants to see them get back on their feet.
Bleecker’s plan is to put his time and energy into turning homes in Santa Barbara into homes for the homeless, where they can come in to hear the gospel and live there for a while.
This place would be like a homeless shelter, but more personal and capable of being a temporary home. Bleecker believes that this is the perfect opportunity for Christians to reach out and share God’s word with those who need it more than anything else. It’s giving hope to men and women who want to know more about the gospel and providing them with a community of love.
Through organizations like the Milpas Community Association, students can be agents of God’s love to our friends without homes. To learn how to help Bleecker and Milpas Community Association, email Bleecker directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Courtesy of Milpas Community Association Santa Barbara