The Pioneer

Homeless Shelter Protects Those In Need For The Holidays

Building+a+Solid+Foundation+helped+El-Malik+steer+his+life+in+a+positive+direction.
Building a Solid Foundation helped El-Malik steer his life in a positive direction.

Building a Solid Foundation helped El-Malik steer his life in a positive direction.

Marina Swanson

Marina Swanson

Building a Solid Foundation helped El-Malik steer his life in a positive direction.

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Naim El-Malik traveled by ferry all the way from Vallejo to San Francisco carrying only a suitcase and the clothes on his back; looking for a shelter to provide a roof over his head and support from social services to get a hernia operation.

“I was tore up!” El-Malik exclaimed, “I was pulling a suitcase from shelter to shelter, playing with alcohol and marijuana, sometimes I didn’t get a bed so I slept on the street with the rest of the people.”

El-Malik’s life took an extreme turn when men from Building a Solid Foundation, a shelter located on the border of Oakland and San Leandro, came up to him and asked him to be a part of their program.

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Billy Barnes is the Program Manager for Building a Solid Foundation.

“When the ministry came through and I was on the corner waiting to try and get in the shelter they said ‘how would you like to be a part of our program?’” El-Malik said.

“ I said ‘well I do need a house and a roof,’ and they said ‘we can help you.’ I was like ‘Really? I need a hernia operation too’ and they said ‘we can help you with that too; you just have to be willing to get it.’”

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Building a Solid Foundation has been in operation since 2003. It functions as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program for mostly homeless men with a seperate home for women and children. The program allows those who enter to stay a length of 90 days; and 90 more days if they feel it is a good fit for them.

The foundation aims to service the immediate needs and social development of those recovering from addiction, offering programs Tuesday through Saturday to keep them busy and teach them about substance abuse prevention.

The foundation’s support system is what helped El-Malik get to the root of his drug and alcohol abuse and support him with the struggles he was having with his health.

“I had to have several visits [with the hospital] over the course of two or three months before getting the operation, but because I was here I was fine,” El-Malik said. “I didn’t want to drink, I didn’t want to smoke weed, I could go out and fundraise talking to beautiful people in my community and I didn’t even have to think about my made-up misery in my own mind.”

In the United States, approximately 1 percent of the U.S. population, or 3.5 million people, experience homelessness over the course of a year. In the Bay Area alone there are approximately 35,000 homeless people.

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Building a Solid Foundation helped El-Malik steer his life in a positive direction.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, as of 2011, 6.5 percent of the population are dependent on alcohol or experienced problems with alcohol abuse and 8.7 percent of Americans ages 12 or older have used or abused an illicit drug.

“We bring them here, keep them away from drugs and alcohol and introduce them to some structure in their lives,” Program Manager Billy Barnes said. “We’ve got stuff for them to do during the day on Tuesday through Saturday to keep them busy and it’s a long day, not a lot of time to go running around and messing up.”

There are many programs offered, including a spiritual sanctuary consisting of a daily Bible study, church on Sunday with motivational guest speakers, a 12-step program including relapse prevention and random testing to help them manage their recovery process, and other life skills, including reading and money management.

“If temptation comes in on a person that’s dealing with drugs and alcohol and we have taught him, we have reconstructed him and gave him information about the disease of addiction, he now stands strong,” said CEO and Founder Rodney Nolan. “No temptation, any temptation that says lets go take a drink can get to him because he will have a solid foundation built on the truth of what drugs and alcohol do.”

The foundation also has an outreach ministry that goes to local stores in the Bay Area to collect donations. The foundation uses the donations to give back to the community throughout the year. This holiday season they gave away 200 boxed turkey dinners to the homeless for Thanksgiving, Barnes said. These dinners included a fourteen-pound box of turkey and stuffing, four cans of veggies and a bag of rolls.

They also take a truck out every Sunday under the bridges of Oakland and Berkeley and distribute 200 different lunches in homeless communities. All of the lunches were paid with money gathered from donations.

“Through the course of fundraising, the enemy does attack,” El-Malik said. “Say there’s a dry spell when people aren’t going into the store; my mind can drift and wonder off. And that’s when I use my life learning skills, what I’ve learned here in my classes to get them out of my head.”

 

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Homeless Shelter Protects Those In Need For The Holidays