CHICO, Calif. - Patrick Newman, founder of Chico Friends on the Street, has been helping the homeless for years.
For the past five of them, he has dedicated every week to bring unhoused people food, water, clothes, and every day basic needs.
“To have no barrier or access to food and clothing, it’s really important because otherwise you’d have systematic deprivation of people,” Newman explained.
For volunteers like Ira Wydner, even a simple PB&J, cup of coffee and a smiling face can go a long way.
“I enjoy interacting with the people, talking with them and spending some time stirring it,” he said with a smile. “I like to give them eye contact and let them know that they are really appreciated, and they are liked. I’ve become really good friends, know them on a first name basis, with quite a few people here.”
After a year of living in a pandemic, their work doesn’t go unnoticed, especially for Marc Lopes.
“It gives me another day to live for,” he shared.
While it is still rewarding for Newman to help those in need, the years of experience and interactions with this community have brought him a new perspective on this work.
“Yesterday, there was an 80-year-old man downtown just sitting on a bench and he was just weeping,” Newman reflected. “All of his worldly goods were just lying in front of him on the street. He’s just a person who was experiencing a total breakdown. And then, you might have a brief interaction with them and maybe hand them a little bit of money and you walk away. To me, I just feel rage. I feel that a lot of the time I leave here. None of this is necessary.”
Chico Friends on the Street and others gather here every Sunday at noon.
To learn more, click here.