Modesto Citadel Berberian Homeless Shelter and Transitional Living Center -Seeing further than the name on a form

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Intern goes beyond the basics and helps change a life.


Sara Boring is an intern at Berberian Homeless Shelter and Transitional Living Center. Photo by Karen Valenzuela

By Cindy Sutter-Tkel

Offering hope—believing in people and in their ability to succeed—is what The Salvation Army’s Berberian Homeless Shelter and Transitional Living Center in Modesto, Calif., is all about. The value of a compassionate, competent, understanding relationship cannot be overestimated.

One such connection achieved a dual result by giving a newly graduated social worker a chance to develop her skills while leading a chronically homeless person—addicted to drugs and alcohol—out of that situation and into a sober and meaningful life.

Sara Boring—an intern at the center—had just graduated from college; Berberian was her first position as a social worker. One day at mail call she noticed one of the shelter residents—“Dave”—was receiving mail from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Since she worked with the center’s Transitional Veterans Program, she invited him to meet with her to learn about the transitional housing program. Because of Boring’s continued concern for him, Dave soon joined the program.

Boring worked with him on his physical and mental health issues, increasing his computer skills, clearing up bad credit, supporting his recovery program, helping resolve his child support issues, reestablishing contact with his family, preparing him for a job search, and even connecting him with the community via volunteering with a local non-profit.

Today, Dave has successfully completed the program. He moved out of the facility to an apartment of his own and secured a part-time job. He says that his most significant accomplishments were the intangible ones: accepting his past and current reality, learning coping mechanisms, having a “can do” attitude, developing goals, maintaining self-worth in spite of his addictions, accepting the consequences of his decisions and taking responsibility for them, and realizing that helping others is helping yourself.

“It’s a great accomplishment and I owe Sara many thanks, along with others. I am fairly confident that things are going to improve as I progress along my new path in life. I learned to stay positive. I was recently congratulated on my success by a friend…oh, what a feeling,” Dave said.

“Dave’s” name was changed to protect his identity.


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