By MARK WAITE
Richard Fenton, president of Helping Hands 4 Jesus, said the homeless would be only a small part of the people who could be served by his Eagle Wings Transitional Rehabilitation Community.
Fenton presented his vision to the Pahrump Town Board and the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission. He plans to approach Nye County Commissioners possibly this month.
“Our objective is to provide a community service for people with various addictions and hardships,” Fenton said.
Fenton is a member of the Pahrump Community Outreach Committee, which includes subcommittees dealing with the homeless and the working poor.
A minister who delivers food to the homeless community around Pahrump, Fenton said he would need at least 40 acres, which he hopes to acquire from the town, county or private donors, by donation or lease.
The community would include 100 energy-efficient cabins, barbecue pits, a community garden, a building housing a rehabilitation center, convenience store and playgrounds. Fenton said counselors will offer a 12-step faith-based rehabilitation program addressing addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography and other habits.
Volunteers have agreed to donate their services with arts and crafts, auto mechanics and other areas, he said. Local contractors and architects would be employed.
“We will take the afflicted, the lost, the broken and the unproductive people of our community and offer them rehabilitation by giving them hope and restructuring their lives in order to make them productive members of our community,” Fenton’s written proposal said. “What we see is for our community to partner with us to secure land and underwrite funding for this project.”
Fundraising has already started. Cup of Faith Christian Books and Gifts Store is sponsoring a concert by Bill Stacy, a contestant on American Idol, on May 14 at Rosemary Clarke Middle School. The tickets are $10 or $15 and can be picked up at Cup of Faith, Ace Hardware, Homestead Cafe, The Party Store and Shadow Mountain Feed.
“It’s not just for homeless people. Homeless people will be welcome to come out and straighten their life out, but the concept is for people who have hardships in their lives and want to straighten their lives out and do it according to what we believe is a faith-based operation,” Fenton said.
“There are people out in this community that need to be rehabilitated and even more so because they’re about to lose everything they own, because they can’t find work, some of them are under some sort of addiction and it’s killing them,” he said. “They’re just one paycheck away from being homeless. It’s for those people as well and we have more of those people than we have the homeless.”
County Commissioner Butch Borasky introduced Fenton to the RPC under public comment at the Feb. 9 meeting. Fenton told them, “It’s not a new concept, but for Pahrump it’s going to be a rehabilitation facility that’s very much needed in this community to help those people that really are struggling and can’t help themselves.”
Fenton told the RPC Helping Hands 4 Jesus helped 32 families living in the desert last year, most of them in tents or some sort of makeshift housing. His organization provided five travel trailers, three campers and several tents to help house them, Fenton said.
Borasky said there are almost 100 homeless children attending Nye County schools.
“If you want to look at homeless for the whole area, your numbers are going to be 200 to 300. It’s hard to get an exact count because it’s hard to chase them down. A lot of people don’t want to be bothered, they’re still mad at society, they lost their job and their homes,” Borasky told the RPC.
Pahrump Town Board member Harley Kulkin asked him about land, Fenton replied he would need some property.
Pahrump has never had a homeless shelter. Previous efforts to establish one have met with resistance.
“Land that I’m going to obtain will be land that is away from any housing areas and township. We propose to have land that is away from all civilization, more out in the desert lifestyle. The reason for the acreage we want is for a buffer zone,” he said. “So it’s not going to be in your neighborhood. That’s what a lot of people were objecting to.”
Fenton said he’s getting help from local leaders like Al Balloqui, Pahrump town board member Tom Waters and Borasky, who is on the Pahrump Community Outreach Committee. He’s also looking for a grant writer to pursue possible grants.
The project wouldn’t eliminate the homeless problem, Fenton said. The project was given to him as a vision to help those who have the urge to better themselves, he said.
“This is the Lord’s concept. he gave this to me 20 years ago when I became a Christian because I was homeless for 10 years. This was the concept He gave me but He didn’t allow me to develop it until now, because I had to go through my trials and tribulations to strengthen my walk with the Lord to be the leader I am today,” Fenton said.
The main thing is to get the land and the support from both the town, county and the community, Fenton said. He intends to submit letters to churches and businesses seeking their support.
When asked if Helping Hands 4 Jesus would start out small and build on it piecemeal, Fenton said, “We will get the land and the project will proceed as the Lord sees fit.”