An Oakhurst family, that itself has seen homelessness with a close relative, has hit upon what it believes to be a solution to at least one part of the homelessness problem that faces the county and state. The family’s solution is simple: “Invite them in.”
Mom Lori Prentice, her husband Jay and kids Tim, Ginger and Melanie open their Oakhurst home to people who are homeless and need a hand.
Sometimes the Prentices move out of their own bedroom so homeless people can have a place to stay for a few days while they get their lives back together. Sometimes, their guests are victims of domestic abuse, sometimes they are simply people who find themselves down on their luck and with nowhere to live. Lori told the Madera County Board of Supervisors of her experiences at the board’s meeting on Tuesday.
She said on Thanksgiving Day more than two years ago, she had the turkey and other foods prepared and ready for the table, when she was hit with a physical sensation. She didn’t want to eat the dinner. She called her pastor at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church and asked if he knew anyone who needed food. She was told of a family who was staying in a hotel. The Prentices took the food to that family.
“It was the best dinner I never ate,” she said. That is the title of a book she has written about her experiences since that day.
Basically, the Prentices open their home to people in need, people who are screened by churches for drinking and drug problems.
“These are otherwise good people who don’t have any resources right now,” she said, “people with legitimate hardship issues.”
She said one woman had been sleeping in her car in freezing weather.
She said the Prentice family has benefitted as much as the homeless people who have been their guests.
“It was the beginning of a change in my life,” she said.
She is trying to raise $14,000 to publish “The Best Dinner I Never Ate.”
If you are interested in her family’s work, you can call her at 641-2211.