BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Mission at Kern County officially cut the ribbon Friday, unveiling a new dormitory space with 40 beds for homeless men. The new building is an expansion of another building on the Mission’s campus consisting of 124 beds.
Christopher Niko Marrow, an employee with the Mission, was formerly homeless before he entered the gates of the Mission 10 years ago. The 40 additional beds, according to Marrow, will change lives.
“[The Missiona at Kern is] where I became a man of God and realized what it was. My life was forever changed. I now have 10 years sobriety and employment here at the Mission going on 9 years now. Everything I lost, God gave me back and then some,” he said.
He found redemption and received help thanks to faith-based programming at the Mission, but he notes it all started with a bed.
Speaking alongside local leaders including Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh, Mission at Kern Executive Director Carlos Baldovinos called the 40-bed addition “a step in the right direction.”
“As an organization, our purpose is not only to provide a warm and safe bed, but offer life-transforming programs that can save the trajectory of their lives,” Baldovinos said.
Goh echoed a similar sentiment.
“Today is a celebration of the restoration of hope. It’s a celebration of the transformation of lives,” she said.
Even with the optimism over the latest addition, Baldovinos said the work is not over. “These are human beings. These are not just a number,” he said. “I do believe there are great strides that we’ve done, but there’s so much more work that has to be done in the future and days ahead.”
Looking ahead, Marrow expressed confidence that the new beds will mark a new beginning for men who need help.
“This is such a big thing,” he said. “I believe there is going to be more people like myself to come through here. Have their lives transformed forever. Let them know there’s hope. I’ve done it. You can do it.”
Earlier this week, the Bakersfield City Council allocated $960,000 to help cover operating expenses for the project. Baldovinos noted the Mission is in the process of building a center for women and children in Oildale set to hold 32 beds. The Mission expects the project completed this summer.