Good Samaritan Shelter, where the walls breathe life


Melani Amarasekara

California’s crisis with overcrowding is worsening as our homeless community booms with nearly 40% of the national total, according to a 2017 report from the US Department of Housing. With upwards of 130,000 unsettled people in the state, programs like Santa Maria’s local Good Samaritan Shelter are crucial in leading the homeless to improved life.


Good Samaritan Shelter is a non-profit organization with direct need-based programs. Their focus is to provide a safe and non-judgmental environment, where the homeless can have their needs met and be held accountable. Some of their programs include a detox center for substance abuse counseling, transitional living, after school programs for children, and multiple live-in units.


Case manager April Ramos explained, “We’re like a revolving door, we have clients that come in one day and leave the next. With long term clients we sit them down each day to  assess why they became homeless and how we can address that.”


The long term clients often take up residency in low-income rooms. They may be eligible for housing services depending on if they’ve met the shelters income and sobriety requirements in recovery. Those looking for a less permanent solution take advantage of the Emergency Shelter where they’re offered a warm bed and meal.


This shelter is unique in the way it prioritizes people from contrasting situations. It’s not just a “grab your meal and go” but rather a hand-in-hand place, where clients receive help from devoted members to reach their goals. Here, the homeless have a chance to overcome their obstacles- whether that be drugs, finances, domestic abuse, etc. It’s a nurturing and productive environment lead by a group of fiercely dedicated workers.


Perhaps the reason why these workers are so invested in the lives of their clients is because at one point, they too were homeless. Numerous managers at this shelter went through the Good Samaritan program themselves and came out on the other side, living proof that recovery is possible.

Detox Manager, Cristina Vasquez says,

We recover. Somebody like you, me, us. We do recover.”  

Services provided at the Good Samaritan are essential in helping the vulnerable in our community. Not only does the program reach the homeless, but they plant seeds for others on their road to productivity. The shelter walks with families and children on their journey through hardship, education, and self-improvement. Their work ethic makes all the difference, and by the looks of it, they’re changing lives for the better.   

If you are interested in volunteering or donating for the Good Samaritan Shelter, check out their website for more information.