Mike McGarvin, founder of the Poverello House homeless shelter in Fresno, has been hospitalized for nearly three weeks due to respiratory issues and has been in and out of the hospital’s intensive care unit.
McGarvin, known by many as “Papa Mike,” has been helping Fresno’s homeless population since 1973 when he first started serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out of the back of his car. The Poverello House in downtown Fresno has helped vast numbers of homeless since then by providing shelter, food and a number of support services and programs to help get people off the streets.
Cruz Avila, executive director of the Poverello House, has been in regular contact with McGarvin and his wife, Mary McGarvin, who didn’t want to go into detail about her husband’s condition as doctors at Saint Agnes Medical Center assess some major health concerns.
He’s a beacon of hope. He’s the reason we’re all here today, and he continues to leave a legacy.
Cruz Avila, executive director of the Poverello House, about founder Mike McGarvin
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Mary McGarvin and Avila are appreciative of the well-wishes and prayers for Mike McGarvin.
“He always has a smile on his face,” Avila says of visiting with McGarvin in the hospital. “Papa Mike is the heartbeat of the Poverello House. When I check in with him and he’s able to talk, he’s just his jolly ol’ self. He gives hope. He’s a beacon of hope. He’s the reason we’re all here today, and he continues to leave a legacy.”
Fresno State announced earlier this month that McGarvin is being awarded an honorary doctorate in recognition of his service helping the homeless.
Cruz said he consults with McGarvin, who remains a board member for the Poverello House, before any major decision is made at the facility.
McGarvin’s friend, Bruce Whitsitt, describes McGarvin as “probably the most generous person I’ve ever met.”
“He is warm, has an infectious and self-deprecating sense of humor, is courageous, loyal and absolutely brimming with compassion for anyone who is hurting,” Whitsitt says. “He’s the kind of guy who accepts people as they are, and treats them with a kindness that makes them feel like they are worth something. The world is far less dark because of Mike McGarvin.”
How to share support
Cards for Mike McGarvin can be mailed to the Poverello House, 412 F St., Fresno CA 93706. Anyone with additional questions, or who would like to visit McGarvin, is asked to call Cruz Avila, executive director of the Poverello House, at 559-498-6988, ext. 111. In lieu of flowers, Mary McGarvin said donations can be made to the Poverello House.