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Friday, Dec 27 2013 04:25 PM

Homeless center needs $50,000 to buy $100,000 worth of work vehicles, equipment

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Jon Crawford, left, and Paul Galloway volunteer their time Christmas Day helping with the dinnertime meal at the Bakersfield Homeless Center.

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

The Bakersfield Homeless Center stands to receive three new vehicles and a trailer to help get its residents to and from work -- but first it must raise money to cover its share of a matching grant.

The center announced Friday that it received a conditional, $50,000 pledge from the Bakersfield Californian Foundation toward the purchase of two eight-passenger vans, a six-passenger extended cab truck and a 12-foot landscaping trailer.

Now the shelter at 1600 E. Truxtun Ave. says it has until March 1 to come up with an additional $50,000 to satisfy the terms of the grant.

"We definitely need help," Carolann Wooton, the center's external affairs manager, said Friday. "It's a real easy way to turn $50,000 into $100,000."

The vehicles and trailer were listed in a grant application approved Nov. 8 by the foundation, which is related to but separate from The Californian.

The center requested the equipment to help its residents service three separate work contracts with the city of Bakersfield.

One of the work contracts has existed since 2009, when the city first hired the homeless center to provide a crew of six to work at the Green Waste Recycling Facility on Mount Vernon Avenue.

The center has since won two more city contracts. One provides workers to clean up along local highways and on- and offramps, while the other employs residents to take care of animals at the city's Animal Care Center at 201 S. Mount Vernon Ave.

Altogether, the contracts employ about 40 shelter residents.

With the new vehicles, the center may be able to find additional work for its residents.

"We have interest in more (work programs) but must work out transportation needs prior to expanding our programming," Wooton wrote in an email.

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