The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Alliance fears Matt. 25 will affect Lighthouse Mission

 


Susie Aramijo, kitchen manager, left, and employee Michelle Sandoval, serve spaghetti for lunch Thursday at the Lighthouse Mission. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

As a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Clovis struggle to raise money to meet an end-of-the-year deadline for kitchen upgrades, some members of the Clovis Christian Ministerial Alliance fear a plan to convert the old Memorial Hospital into a ministry center will cut into funds needed by the Lighthouse Mission.

The plan is referred to as the Matt. 25 project.

“Right now the Lighthouse Mission is the only shelter for people in need other than the domestic violence shelter and I don’t know of any other place in town that has a soup kitchen,” said the Rev. Lance Clemmons, chairman of the Clovis Christian Ministerial Alliance. “If we lose it, it is going to be a great detriment to our community.”

The Clovis Christian Ministerial Alliance is an interdenominational group of area pastors who meet to discuss church matters in Clovis and improve cooperation between local churches.

Clemmons said area ministers discussed the mission’s fundraising situation at their April 1 meeting and several plan to ask their denominations and local churches for help.

Richard Gomez, director of the Lighthouse Mission, said he’s optimistic the ministry won’t fold after 16 years in Clovis.

The Lighthouse Mission, currently located at the 100 block of South Connelly, provides hot meals, clothing, and shelter for area residents.

“I do believe we will make the deadline,” Gomez said. “We have been raising money in different places but we are waiting for the plans to be finished from the architect and from there it goes to the contractor and then we find out what the price will be. Then we take off with our fundraising.”

Gomez said the mission has already raised about $20,000 in cash and $10,000 in pledges toward a new facility that will include the kitchen upgrades required by the state. Lighthouse officials have previously said they want to erect their own building rather than paying tens of thousands of dollars for kitchen upgrades in the building they now rent.

That’s still a long way from the money needed to put up a metal frame building.

“Based on last year’s prices it was $140,000, but the price of steel has gone up drastically, they tell me,” Gomez said.

Sid Strebeck, co-chair of the Matt. 25 steering committee that took possession of the old Memorial Hospital on Thursday, said he doesn’t think having two major fundraising projects going on simultaneously should be a problem.

The situation is comparable to a church that has begun a major building campaign but still has to pay the regular bills, Strebeck said.

“People are worried if you start a building project it will take away from money for other projects,” Strebeck said. “If you start a building project that requires more money, typically your overall giving will go up.”

Strebeck emphasized that he doesn’t see the Matt. 25 project as competition with the Lighthouse Mission.

“Certainly we support Lighthouse Mission, that is not a question,” Strebeck said. “The purpose of the Matt. 25 center is not to provide ministries but to provide housing for ministries that will serve the needs of these people. What it really becomes is a one-stop center where anyone in need will be able to come and maybe not get the services they need but be directed to the services.”

Strebeck said he’d like to see as many ministries as possible move into the former hospital so people without easy access to cars could get most of their needs met in one place. However, Gomez said the Lighthouse won’t be one of the Matt. 25 tenants.

“Matt. 25, the last thing I heard, was three to five years down the road until completion, and we need to do something today so we are moving today,” Gomez said. “We’ve been serving the less fortunate in the community for 16 years and we need to do what the Lord wants us to do, and at this present time it is for us to build the building.”

Strebeck said he doesn’t think it will take that long before the old hospital is ready to receive tenants.

“Probably the facility will be in use within the next 12 months but we don’t know how long it will be before it is 100 percent in use,” Strebeck said. “The back part of the hospital is really in pretty good shape.”

For his part, Gomez said he hopes Matt. 25 will help needy people in Clovis.

“They’re a great bunch of people, they feel this is something the Lord has told them to do and they must obey what God shows them to do,” Gomez said. “We could never have too many helping agencies in Clovis to help the less fortunate.”

 
 

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