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In the turbulence of the 1960s, a young man named Mike McGarvin was on the fast track to becoming one of the many casualties of the decade. Drugs, alcohol, violence and hopelessness were his daily companions, until he found a place in San Francisco called Poverello. The priest who ran the coffee house asked Mike to volunteer, and the experience changed his life. The San Francisco Poverello served people who were characterized by poverty and despair. It was a place where they could come to find acceptance, a smile, and unconditional love. There, Mike found the answer to his problem: service to others.

He would hand out peanut butter sandwiches, talk to people, and let them know someone cared about them.

Several years later, Mike married a wonderful woman, Mary and they moved to Fresno. He worked as a photographer, but was searching for a way to repay God for saving his life. The answer came when he noticed homeless people on the streets of Fresno. Mike knew what to do; he would hand out peanut butter sandwiches, talk to people, and let them know someone cared about them. Mike's small ministry soon grew, and others began to join and help. A storefront building was obtained, and he named it after the place that had saved him in San Francisco: Poverello House.

It was a simple storefront, but within those humble walls, "Papa Mike" offered coffee, food, and a brief respite from the streets. Despite the building burning down, evictions and financial insecurity, Poverello House continued to grow and provide essential services to the needy and homeless. In the 1990s Poverello House expanded to a larger building at its current location on 412 F Street, which allowed it to broaden its services to meet the needs of the community.

Poverello House provides three meals a day, 365 days a year to men, women and families along with services that improve people's quality of life.