Before coming to Open Gate, no one would have wanted our life! It was a constant daily struggle for my husband, three boys, and myself. We started going downhill, little by little, until we had nothing. We had been evicted in July, 2014, and we had no place to go. Our “home” every day for almost a year was a motel room somewhere. When we didn’t have the money for a room, my husband would collect pallets to try to raise enough. I remember he could fit 8 of them in the trunk of our car. He would do anything for us, anything, just to have a roof over our heads.

It came to a point where it was harder and harder for him and all we wished for was a little help. It was on June 16 of this year that I called Open Gate and, to my surprise, there was an available room for our whole family!

Open Gate is the only shelter in Tulare County that takes in the whole family. On the way here, our car overheated and broke down, but we still made it here just before dinner.

At Open Gate we have been taught that, with God and faith in our lives, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. We attend a local church now, the Dinuba Church of the Nazarene. They have also supported us and have welcomed us into their family.

With Open Gate’s help we have been able to save money for a new place. They supported us all the way through, and we thank God for Open Gate and staff; they are a true blessing.

The Olvera Family July 31, 2015

From the Brooks Family

Hello, Friends of Open Gate!
We were staying at the Visalia Rescue Mission Shelter before we came here to Open Gate due to being homeless. We heard about Open Gate from a friend who had told me that this program was a good one and they helped her walk through it.

Being here has helped us reunite with our kids. We didn’t have any visitation with our three children before we came here and now we have every other weekend with our oldest daughter and this weekend will be our first weekend overnight with our nine-month old baby. Open Gate has been a positive place for us and helped us out. The staff here are really kind-hearted and helpful. We now attend the Dinuba Mennonite Brethren Church and will become new members in April.

We also attend three Bible studies a week. On Wednesdays at three p.m. we have a women’s Bible study at the Shelter where I learned my very first verse from the Bible: Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Now we have become closer to Jesus and know He is an awesome God. If it wasn’t for Him, we wouldn’t be here, Thank the Lord!

Michelle and Gregory Brooks

God Opened a Door For Me At Open Gate, By Board Member Fran Stonerfranstoner 201308

While setting up for a church function, I was talking to a friend that was on the Board of Open Gate. I said to her “Tell me about Open Gate.” I literally stopped and wondered “Who said that?” I knew it was God guiding me to the most rewarding place that I am privileged to be a part of.

The first time I came to Open Gate I met Gloria. I knew in my heart that this was where God was leading me. The love of God in the home and in the staff is what it is all about. I can’t help but love the residents. They have become like family to me. They come for so many different reasons. No work, no home, no family to help. Lots of times, they have no faith in God or themselves. Open Gate makes a big difference in their lives. I enjoy so much being a part of that. It is my prayer that I do make a difference, even if it is just a small one, in the lives of the people I serve.

One of the residents came to me for something. She summed up what Open Gate is very well. She called it “Open Miracle Gate.” There are so many wonderful success stories. It is awesome to watch people who are down and out coming to know God, to feel His love, and to know that through Him all is possible.

Open Gate is blessed by the churches and the people of our community, a community that helps keep the doors open. This allows Open Gate to continue to be a blessing to many lives. There is always a need, whether it be for new beds, food, repairs, or volunteers. The home is warm. God always provides. So for tonight the children are safe, warm and cared for. Since that first day at Open Gate I routinely volunteer at the house. At the first of the year I joined the Board. I feel greatly blessed, beyond measure. Pray to God. Ask Him how you can help. I’m so happy I did!

A Testimony of one of our residents (name withheld on request)

With no place to go and only faith in God, I finally found a place with love, faith, and helping hands. Open Gate provides a drug-free and Christ-like environment for me and my children. In the short period that I have lived here, my walk with God and my relationship with my family and loved ones has been the best and strongest ever.

My church family and Open Gate has encouraged me to become more independent and self-supporting! I’ve gone from having no job to being an employee of a local growing company. My children have adjusted to our new life style and are making great progress in school.

I want to give a big THANK YOU to Open Gate Ministries, volunteers, supporters, and friends and family. And above all, God!

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say No to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11-13.

I will always be thankful to Open Gate for showing me love when I needed it the most. May God be with you all for providing the Shelter.

Our Path to Open Gate (June 2012)

My husband and I have not lived the perfect life; we are far from it. My husband lost his job in 2008 and, with no luck finding work, we started using drugs. We had our crazy days and our bad days. Never can I say that, while on drugs, we had a good day. At that time, we had three children, whom we left with my mother. After our fourth child was born in 2010, we both got clean from drugs (and are still clean to this day!) but we were still living with friends and relatives. Living with others is very stressful and, after a couple of months at each place, we would find ourselves again looking for someplace to sleep. Having just given a hotel clerk our last $65 for a night, I called the 2-1-1 system. A sweet lady there gave us several numbers and even prayed for us on the phone. The first number was Open Gate. When we first called, the shelter was full, so we kept calling back. Before she hung up, I will always remember the lady on the phone telling me, If nothing else, pray. I took her word and, before I went to bed that night I told my family to pray that something would come up. The next time I called, Open Gate had an opening and we came here.

Open Gate has been a blessing to my family. We are thankful for all the staff and for all who make this place possible. Without you, I don’t know where we would be!

Staff note: While at Open Gate, the husband found work and they have saved up enough for an apartment/house to rent.

A Testimony of another of our residents (August 2013)

To whom this may concern, Before we came to Open Gate, we were feeling hopeless and we were certain that everything was going against us. We were staying at a place where everyone was drinking and using drugs and the people were evicted. When we arrived at Open Gate we felt like we were on a different planet. The environment here is serene, peaceful, and encouraging. Thanks to Irene and the staff, things have turned around for us. Tulare Works has offered homeless assistance. C-set has made us an appointment for intake, and even our doctors have offered to help to find us a home. Our children are attending Vacation Bible Studies and we all attend services every weekend. My family is healthy and determined to make life work instead of feeling defeated. All the staff here encourage us and support us in every way. They support our happiness as well as our trials, and we’re always embraced – figuratively as well as literally. Thank you for everything. God bless you for providing a haven for us.

How We Got To Open Gate (February 2012)

Our story started about two years ago with a lack of work and a daughter who was in and out of Valley Children’s Hospital. This led to the loss of finances, then our home, and, worst of all, our  son and daughter were taken from us. And it didn’t help that we also were using drugs and alcohol, and this led to the wife being placed in the county jail. At this time we found out she was pregnant.

In our desperation, being homeless with no place to go without being separated, we were at a loss. Leaving Kings County to get away from the drugs and alcohol and family, we came to Tulare County for help. That’s when we found the Tulare Emergency Aid Council and were given a number to call. That number was Open Gate. The person that answered the phone was so friendly it was as if we already knew her. And so we started a phone interview, but suddenly the line went dead. On the next day we finished the interview and God opened His arms and we came to Open Gate.

Our lives have changed in so many ways just in the short amount of time since we have come to live in God’s house – Open Gate. God has blessed us with a safe and clean place that we can call
home. We are blessed with good, hot, home cooking that we get to eat each and every day and a new family that accepts us and truly loves us for who we are.sun drawing by child

God has opened doors of opportunity for us of good employment and of getting our children back through the child welfare contacts that have been made for us at Open Gate. Also, with each day that passes that we are sober and clean, the better we feel and the easier it becomes to be happy again as a husband and wife, but most of all, a FAMILY, like God wants us to be. Time fixes all, thanks to the Open Gates of God.

Wendy and Joseph (editor’s note: Graphics were provided by the resident.)