Tireless Stockton 209 Cares volunteers the only lifeline for many homeless

Source: Recordnet.com / Joe Goldeen

By midday Sunday it’s hot for late September, but a light breeze makes it tolerable.

The line of 4×4 pickups and SUVs loaded down with food, cold water and personal hygiene items pulls over to the side of a seemingly quiet stretch of roadway on the outskirts of downtown Stockton; no traffic, no one in sight. But within minutes and from all directions, people start arriving to greet the convoy — mostly on foot, some on old bicycles, a few in vehicles. They’re old, middle-aged and even some millennials, including less than a half-dozen children who get the most attention.

The volunteers with Stockton 209 Cares don’t give one whit if they’re brown, black or white, shirtless or shoeless, thankful or speechless while looking at the ground.

“This is fantastic,” said Lynn Pinsoneault, who along with her brother Bob lives on “The Trail,” a homeless encampment for about 30 people along the western, watery stretch of Mormon Slough between West Weber Avenue and the freeway connector ramp from Highway 4 to Interstate 5.

The Pinsoneaults have been living on the streets of Stockton, their home town, for the past seven months. They learned pretty quick that, as wonderful as the services and people at nearby St. Mary’s Dining Room are, the homeless living just outside its gates are a pretty rough crowd that they don’t want to deal with.

They discovered The Trail three months ago. It’s been a safe place for the brother and sister and their two dogs, Jake and Marissa. But by avoiding going to St. Mary’s, they miss out on what it’s primarily known for: food.

And the Pinsoneaults — like so many other people living on the streets — are hungry all the time.

John Love, 44, can attest to that. After living in the dry section of Mormon Slough about two miles to the east for the past year, he’s come to rely on the regular visits by the volunteers from Stockton 209 Cares and a number of other good Samaritans and church groups.

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