MECCA – Two significant donations will make it possible to pay for an emergency shelter for migrant farmworkers, providing relief to the shortage of temporary housing for the eastern Coachella Valley’s agricultural workers, according to Riverside County Supervisor V. Manuel Perez.
The Galilee Center, a nonprofit that serves farmworker and low-income families, received a $200,000 gift from Mary Ingebrand-Pohla last week. After learning of her donation, The Rev. Father Howard Lincoln pledged $50,000 from Sacred Heart Parish toward the effort.
“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 in a prepared statement. “We hope this is the beginning of an annual program, where many farmworkers will find relief. We are very grateful to Mary and Father Lincoln for their outstanding donation.”
Supervisor V. Manuel Perez met with the Galilee Center and Father Lincoln over the summer to discuss the concept of the center housing a seasonal shelter for migrant farmworkers. Perez worked with the nonprofit’s founders on a plan to operate the shelter, once funds could be raised.
“I greatly admire Gloria Gomez and Claudia Castorena who serve from the heart, in the life‑changing work that government could not do alone,” Perez said in a prepared statement. “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.”
The shelter will be hosted at the Galilee Center’s facility in Mecca, located at 66-101 Hammond Rd. What began as a vacant warehouse has transformed into an enormous community resource. In 2015, the Galilee Center, with funding from the County of Riverside, further renovated a portion of the building into the Mecca Comfort Station, a permanent shower, restroom and laundry facility for farmworkers.
The Galilee Center will utilize the donations to hire staff to run the overnight shelter and purchase the needed supplies to get the shelter open soon.
Perez was appointed to the supervisor’s seat following John J. Benoit’s death. He is seeking election to the seat in November 2018. He is being challenged by Republican Jan Harnik of Palm Desert.
Perez represents the eastern two-thirds of Riverside County on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Stretching from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, south to the Salton Sea and east to Blythe and the Colorado River, the 4th District is the largest geographical district in the county.