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Insurance man secures donation for homeless shelter
Safeco Insurance gives the Turlock We Care homeless shelter program a check for $2,000. Pictured above left to right: Tamara Katz (Safeco), Bill Sturtevant (We Care Program), Maris Sturtevant (We Care Program) and Christopher Freeberg (Winton-Ireland, Strom & Green Insurance Agency). - photo by Photo Contributed
Christopher Freeberg was so moved by his Christmas Eve volunteer experience at the Turlock We Care homeless shelter program last year that he wanted to do more. So the local insurance man nominated the We Care program to receive a grant through Safeco’s Agent Giving Program. Freeberg’s petition was granted; and We Care was presented with a $2,000 check from Safeco last week.
“We didn’t know anything about it. It was quite a surprise,” said Maris Sturtevant, We Care chief operations officer. “Donations, other than the grants we write, are very important to us.”
We Care, an emergency cold weather shelter for homeless men in the Turlock area, provided 133 individuals with a bed and a roof over the heads from Dec. 1, 2008, to March 31, Sturtevant said. Freeberg, a Turlock resident and agent at Winton-Ireland, Strom & Green, along with his wife, children and daughter-in-law, cooked and served dinner on Christmas Eve 2008 for the  men staying at the shelter.
“It was a great experience,” he said.
While We Care receives most of their funding through state and federal grants, they still need individual donations to make up the difference. According to Sturtevant, the shelter’s operational costs were $6,000 a week last year.
“The winter homeless men’s shelter’s mission is to meet the needs in their community — one person, one dollar, one meal, one bed, one day at a time,” said Freeberg. “Safeco’s grant to We Care program is a wonderful way to support our community.”
Freeberg said that during his time volunteering at the shelter last year, he was awed by the dedication, compassion and love given to the men by We Care’s management team, which is made up of Bill and Maris Sturtevant and Debbie Gutierrez.
“They are great people — the unsung heroes of our community,” he said.
Freeberg said he and his family plan on continuing their volunteer service to the shelter this year.
“I think it will be worse this winter because of the economy,” he said.
Freeberg said he has been inspired by all of the local volunteers in the community.
“The number of volunteers in this community is awesome. One person can make a difference,” he said.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-2004.