MECCA, Calif. - A temporary shelter for the eastern Coachella Valley's migrant farmworker population is set to open its doors at 6 p.m. on Friday.
The Guadalupe shelter at the Galilee Center in Mecca will offer up to 150 beds through July 31, the end of the grape harvest season in the desert.
Local philanthropist Mary Ingebrand-Pohla contributed $200,000 and Father Howard Lincoln of Palm Desert's Sacred Heart Parish gave $50,000 to hire staff to run the overnight shelter and purchase supplies.
"We are very excited and blessed to receive these donations, which will provide so much needed shelter for the homeless farmworker men and women in the eastern Coachella Valley,'' said Gloria Gomez, the Galilee Center's president and founder.
The shelter is slated to remain open through next summer, though the Galilee Center's staff hopes it can be made available on an annual basis.
"It's our dream to open it every season,'' office manager Lupe Torres said.
Gomez said: "We hope this is the beginning of an annual program, where many farmworkers will find relief. We are very grateful to Mary and Fr. Lincoln for their outstanding donation.''
With temporary housing at a premium in the eastern Coachella Valley, discussion of a seasonal farmworkers' shelter at the Galilee Center began over the summer between Lincoln, county Supervisor V. Manuel Perez and Galilee Center leaders.
"I greatly admire Gloria Gomez and (Galilee Center CFO and Founder) Claudia Castorena who serve from the heart, in the life-changing work that government could not do alone,'' Perez said.
"When they brought a vision to address this need, I had faith they would find a way to make this come true for our farmworker families. These donations are amazing blessings that offer not only a place to sleep but immense hope to people in need.''