Sphepherd’s Gate provides a safe space

Nick Campbell, @nicky_charles

This holiday season many organizations in the community will perform much needed philanthropy work. At the forefront of that work is Shepherd’s Gate, a faith based ministry  located in Livermore.

Headquartered in Livermore with an additional location in Brentwood, the ministry started over 34 years ago by its founder, Aliceann Cantelow.  Cantelow was already an advocate for the homeless when she began her ministry. Initially, her ministry efforts began by offering shelter to women and children in her own home.

Soon after she purchased another home with the help of her neighbors in the community. The approach to the challenges of her philanthropy was met by her faith.

“I’ll do what I can and let God do the rest,” describes Cantelow’s mentality per the ministry’s  website.

However, Cantelow had to eventually turn away many people seeking help due to a lack of space and resources. So by 1992, Cantelow and her team began working on a massive expansion to meet the growing needs of their mission. This led to the creation of a three acre campus in Livermore. By May of 2000, the first phase of the campus was opened. Then, in 2005 a second residence hall was added to expand their campus to a capacity of 70.

Since then the ministry has only continued to expand. In 2004, Signature Properties, a real estate company based out of Oakland, volunteered to build a 7600 square foot campus in Brentwood. The Brentwood campus opened in January of 2006 and houses up to 18 women and children.

Some of the services Shepherd’s Gate offer to its residents are: Drug & Alcohol rehabilitation, food, shelter and life skills. The drug and alcohol rehab includes Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous 12 step programs. The life skills program focuses on budgeting, cooking, job skills, Bible study and many other disciplines. It is a very structured program each about an average of about one year in length. They are currently running at an 80 percent success rate of residents becoming self-sufficient.

“Our goal is to have our residents equipped to handle being on their own when they leave,” said Director of Residential Services, Mary Norcross.

To assist in that goal, the sites have what’s called “The road to freedom” with levels of training and resources to help the residents meet this goal. The typical path to the organization starts at the intake line for those seeking help. The intake unit takes it from there and provides potential tenants with instructions on how to proceed.

Shepherd’s Gate has approximately 10 case workers on staff. The ministry is faith-based so it relies on support from the community. This comes in the form of donations, volunteerism, and via the ministry owned thrift store. Volunteers from all over have lent their time to the Shepherd’s Gate.

People like former LMC student Dante Ortiz, donate funds and volunteer. Ortiz was motivated to volunteer so he could give back to the community and Shepherd’s Gate provided an avenue for that desire.

“Overall, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in volunteering,” said Ortiz.

Thirty-four years since Aliceann Cantelow followed her calling to help the homeless, Shepherd’s Gate is thriving and she has left an amazing legacy.

Once a month the ministry does truck pick ups of donated goods to be sold at the thrift store. In addition to the thrift stores, if you are interested in donating to the ministry, or interested in volunteering, you can inquire further via their website at www.shepherdsgate.org or by phone at 888-216-4776.