Homeless Stocktonians helping others, seeking opportunities

Kevin Mititi and Marina Balesteros, volunteers for 209 Cares, clean up on the East Side. Photo by Vivienne Aguilar.
Kevin Mititi and Marina Balesteros, volunteers for 209 Cares, clean up on the East Side. Photo by Vivienne Aguilar.

On Feb. 28, the five man crew of Stockton 209 Cares cleaned a neighbor’s yard because the homeowner is in hospice.  

Stockton 209 Cares is a nonprofit organization designed to clean the streets while giving homeless volunteers opportunities to work for gift cards and shower tokens for the downtown Stockton homeless shelters. Those hoping to work are placed on a waitlist, until the organization receives another grant.

Founder Nancy Lamb and the board for 209 Cares work with the city to secure grants and aid. Lamb said notable donors were Christina Fugazi, who donated money which gave the organization time to wait and see if they will receive another grant, and Miguel Villapudua, who pays the dump fees. 

209 Cares also works with the district attorney when they run into a situation where the cleanup involves sensitive or dangerous garbage such as sensitive paperwork, needles, unregistered cars, and more. 

The group relies on volunteers. “We are not faith based at all, it’s just if you want to give back and if you truly care about the community come on out,” said Lamb. 

209 Cares also works with high schoolers volunteers. 

“[Nancy] gave me an opportunity to keep my mind busy while being on the streets, and that’s what I love about 209 Cares,” said Kevin Mititi, one of the homeless volunteers. Mititi hopes to attend Delta College to study photography, business and more. His eventual goal is to become mayor of Stockton.

“Delta, in professional wise, is gonna help me advance that and make that a reality,” he said.

26-year-old Rosie Saultz is one of the success stories of 209 Cares. She is now two months clean and sober, and gaining her first job experience with 209 Cares. 

The organization, through Lamb’s personalized outreach, provides resources homeless individuals need. A main goal of the organization is to place homeless members of our community back with their families, get them jobs, and help stabilize them. 

Lamb is currently looking for Saultz’s family in Texas. “I just kind of work with them one-on-one,” she said.

Workers said the organization make them feel like a family. 

“We all barely know each other, but we all grew close to each other as we work three days a week,” said Saultz.

Those interested in volunteering can reach out to Lamb on the Stockton 209 Cares Facebook page. They work Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7 a.m. until noon. Upcoming events include youth outreach and Easter at the shelter.