Home sweet home

    Pastor Linda Lampe offers hospitality and help to homeless

    REFLECTION Hollister Community Outreach and its volunteers work to change the way the homeless perceive themselves. Rosalind Luna, Vincent Ott Patrick, Destinee Luna, Pastor Lampe and Jose Ramirez. Photo: Robert Eliason

    Pastor Linda Lampe has a gift for making people feel at home.

    When guests arrive at the ordained minister’s door, she’ll pull up a chair, share in a drink of tea, and—if time allows—talk for hours; every fresh word out of her mouth more soothing than the last.

    And before guests leave, you can bet she’ll make sure they leave with warm bones and full stomachs.

    Lampe’s actions are such of a mother with visiting children. And the cozy, picture-adorned walls wherein she spends her weekdays are such of a loving hom—complete with a kitchen, living room, televisions, computers, showers, and even a chapel.

    “We say this is the place to rest your weary soles and to rest your weary soul,” Lampe says of My Father’s House, a non-profit ministry outreach center affiliated with Hollister Community Outreach, located in the basement of 910 Monterey Street in Hollister.

    “To somebody who doesn’t have a home, do you know how empowering it is when someone asks, ‘Where are you going?’ to be able to say back—‘I’m going to my father’s house’?”

    For the homeless and in need, My Father’s House provides bathrooms, showers, clean clothes, food, blankets and hygiene items.

    And Lampe, its director, provides hope. She serves as a court advocate and places people in drug and alcohol recovery programs. She also reunites families, and assists in finding employment or medical/mental health care.

    “When I see people on the street, I think about how they were some mother’s darling; some mother’s son,” Lampe says.

    “So how did that person get there? But more importantly, how can we help them transition from there to where they can become who they were created to be. So that’s why we call this My Father’s House.”

    Living in Hollister since 2001, Pastor Lampe began her mobile ministry in 2002—with her meeting place primarily at the Taco Bell on San Felipe Road (“You could get two tacos for $1, so I would get 100 tacos,” she says). The former real estate lender says she wanted to become a destination ministry, too.

    “Now we’re both.”

    The separate non-profit organizations, Hollister Community Outreach and True Life Christians Ministry, both reside in My Father’s House. Both are directed by Lampe and operated by her husband, Patrick, a local real estate agent.

    “By doing that, we don’t have to compromise our faith,” she says.

    The chapel in the building serves as True Life Christians church, where Lampe holds services every Saturday afternoon. She says, however, the building is not zoned to as an official church.

    And for those who seek services at My Father’s House, attending chapel services is not a requirement.

    “I believe in separation of church and state,” Lampe says. “I’m a constitutionalist.”

    Since she began ministering in Hollister 15 years ago, Pastor Lampe has helped 139 people “transform their lives” from homelessness to permanently living off the streets. According to the 2017 San Benito County (SBC) Homeless Census & Survey, there are currently 527 homeless people in SBC.

    She hopes to see that number decrease, especially since opening the doors of My Father’s House in October 2015.

    “There was a two-year study done by Baylor University published last year, that found government programs actually prolong and promote homelessness,” she says.

    “Whereas faith-based programs are making an impact. We’re helping [the homeless] be able to see what they really are, rather than just be a recipient.”

    Lampe also wants to make clear her establishment—funded by her social security checks and Patrick’s real estate sales—is not a homeless center, homeless shelter, nor is it a soup kitchen.

    “Because words are powerful, and you become what you think,” she explains. “We call this place the launch pad.”

    Her way of perceiving the homeless plays a part in her organization’s mission statement:

    “To change the face of homelessness in San Benito County. To help change the way the homeless see themselves, the way they see others and the way others see them.”

    And Lampe’s team of volunteers carry out that statement, as well.

    Jose Ramirez, who was a tenant on the first floor of the building on Monterey Street when the ministry moved in, sought her need for help.

    “I often saw her taking homeless people to court; she was going in and out all the time,” he says.

    Having his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, Ramirez offered his services to Lampe.

    “I realized that they needed a lot of help—they need people who know what they’re doing to help them.”

    He now translates for Lampe when she advocates for people in court, as well as doing administration work. And he eventually received his Master’s Degree with encouragement from the Lampes.

    “They’re awesome,” Ramirez says of the Lampes.

    And Rosalind Luna has been volunteering at My Father’s House for two years.

    “I love it here; I love being a blessing to others,” she says.

    And Luna’s 12 year old daughter is also a volunteer.

    “Everyday she comes after school, from 3:30 to 5:00, and volunteers. She does great at the front desk, and helps everybody sign in. She loves Pat and Linda—they’re like her grandparents now.”

    To other volunteers, the services the Lampes offer reach closer to home.

    Anne LaForge, a retired school teacher and guidance counselor, was volunteering with My Father’s House—having started a journaling class with regular patrons—when she confided in Lampe about having a family member at the addiction recovery center, Teen Challenge, in Utah.

    “I expressed my anxiety over it,” LaForge says. “Turns out, Linda is heavily connected to Teen Challenge all over the country.”

    Months later, LaForge’s family member left the program early to live with LaForge.  

    But after weeks of living a healthy lifestyle, she relapsed. When family members wanted her to move to a homeless shelter, Lampe wouldn’t hear of it.

    “Linda pulled strings and got her into a new program that’s more career oriented,” LaForge says.

    Two days later, Patrick and Pastor Lampe drove LaForge’s family member to Eureka for the new program.

    A common act for the Lampes.

    Patrick wouldn’t have it any other way.

    “Everyone was somebody’s baby at one point,” he says. “I ask, ‘How can we bring that baby back?’”

    And Pastor Lampe is lovingly referred to as “mom” by those she helps. Like any mother, she is the first many of the homeless in San Benito County come to, providing a source of refuge for many.

    “We’re so thankful that our neighbors in the community, fellow tenants in the building have accepted us,” Lampe says.

    But from time to time, the Lampes serve as safeguards, as well.

    “We do call 911 because people have no place to go. We deal with a lot of sick people. It’s not because someone has OD’d—99 percent of the time it’s because they’re in a coma or a heart attack.”

    For those homeless who don’t have family in their lives, the Lampes are usually the first to be at the hospital with them.

    And sometimes they’re the last.

    “When I go to the hospital and advocate for them, the nurses say, ‘It’s important for us to know who’s in that bed, and you personalize that for us,’” Linda says.
    For more information on services or volunteer work, visit Hollister Community Outreach or True Life Christians/My Father’s House on Facebook. My Father’s House is located at 910 Monterey Street in Hollister, open Mon – Sat from 9am to 5pm Contact Pastor Linda Lampe at 831.801.7775.

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