The basics: Timothy Steele, 55, is a plumber and carpenter. His wife, Priscilla Steele, 54, is a special education teacher at Firebaugh Middle School. The couple lives in Fresno’s Lowell neighborhood, just north of downtown. They have three daughters and a son each — all grown, from previous marriages.
What they do: The Steeles are heavily involved in their community. Timothy is an associate pastor at On Ramps Covenant Church at 1401 Divisadero St. He and Priscilla also volunteer at To Know Him Ministry, which serves homeless and displaced people downtown, and at Spirit of Women, a mental health and substance abuse treatment center.
Why they do it: The majority of homeless or displaced people in Fresno are from here, Timothy said. “That means somebody’s family member is out there on those streets that we walk by every day and we don’t even know our own relatives and kinfolks because we’re so busy. When we stop and take a moment and we look and we extend ourselves out to help, man it’s just really impactful.”
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The turning point: Timothy was raised in San Francisco by his great-grandparents after his mother began practicing satanism. At 16 he was drugged and raped by a man at his Christian church. Timothy said he became angry, confused and left the church, dropped out of school and joined the military.
But his great-grandparents had raised him around their foster and day care center, so he said part of what he does comes from being raised up in the act of ministry and giving. For example, once homeless, Timothy said his street name was “Jacket” because every time he found one he would put it on in case he ran into someone else who needed one.
“Even in spite of everything that was going on in my life that may have been negative, I was always helping people. I really can’t say a defining point with me because from a child up I’ve always been helping people. My great-grandparents went out of their way helping people and, you know, I find myself doing the same thing.”
Details, details: The Steeles pack their schedules: Homeless ministry Friday nights downtown with To Know Him, men’s fellowship Monday nights at Highland Golden Living Center, sharing words of encouragement Saturdays and Sundays at Spirit of Women, men’s fellowship Wednesday nights at Blast Fitness, door-to-door Saturday morning prayer with To Know Him Ministry, Saturday night intercessory prayer, neighborhood potluck and prayer Sunday nights.
What others say: Phil Skei, pastor at On Ramps Covenant Church, said the way Timothy and Priscilla serve their community transcends the organizations they are involved with. The Steeles are great at building relationships, he said, and people go to them for just about anything. The couple has let people who are homeless or in transition sleep on their couch and Timothy regularly helps people in his neighborhood with plumbing needs.
“Frankly the kind of stuff they do is really caring for people in our community that don’t find their way into programs or don’t find their way into other institutional services,” Skei said. “These are folks who really live, in many ways, hidden from much of our community. These are the people that Timothy and Priscilla spend their days caring for. It’s pretty remarkable.”
How you can help: Those wishing to help can donate online to On Ramps Covenant Church at www.onrampschurch.org or attend the homeless service through To Know Him Ministry every Friday night outside 2155 G St. at 6 p.m.
— Andrea Castillo