Bobby Chisum was a gentle and soft-spoken man who became homeless after a chain of events took place beginning with the loss of loved ones in a fatal car crash that sent him into an abyss of depression. Later Bobby was put in a coma after being struck by a car – the lasting physical effects of which made it difficult to find work. When the Family Assistance Community Resource Center opened its doors in San Bernardino’s west side last year at the former Home of Neighborly Services location, Bobby was one of their first guests.
“He was one of those clients that was a good guy, we just wanted to take care of him, we liked him, he was a really good, super honest, nice guy,” noted Community Center Manager Jenaro Martinez.
Bobby, 62, died in his sleep on May 7 on the street in the city’s west side, and news of his death came as a shock to Martinez and staff who bonded with the man who had become a regular at the facility located on Mt. Vernon Ave.
“We got to know him really well over the last year, learned his story, who he was,” Martinez indicated. “We started including him because he was there so much, he was always asking if we wanted help, he’d clean up the front, sweep up, and when donations came in he would go up and down the stairs, even though he was an older guy, to help bring donations in; he would never ask for anything, ever.”
Bobby is the second client the center lost; Robert Joyner froze to death across the street from the facility in February, and according to Martinez, he and staff members were denied details regarding next of kin or funeral arrangements making it difficult to find closure.
In this case Martinez was able to locate Bobby’s sister, who believed he had been renting a friend’s garage; she donated $150 to the Family Assistance Program in a show of appreciation for their kindness to him. She will be holding a memorial service for Bobby next Wednesday, May 27 at La Placita Park.
“I talked to our group and I figured the best way for us to utilize that money was to give it directly back to the homeless community, and all of his friends that are out there… he’d met through the years,” expressed Martinez, who reached out to Mitla Café, Bobby’s favorite restaurant.
“They stepped up and they were willing to give us 150 burritos at a dollar each; it was really, really generous. We thought it was really cool that they were willing to make that sacrifice especially at a time like now to donate all that,” Martinez referring to decreased sales due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Martinez and the resource team distributed the burritos on Thursday, May 14 at La Placita Park and the surrounding areas.
“As a Christian myself you learn to help the less fortunate, and even as business owners they (Steven Oquendo and Michael Montaño) want to give back something to the community and make it a better place,” shared Patti Oquendo, Mitla Café manager, who regularly helps feed the homeless at La Placita Park with her church group.
According to Martinez he reached out to the man who discovered Bobby’s body to offer a little insight to who he was. “He was grateful that I could give some humanity to this guy, that he wasn’t just a homeless thing lying there but a human being with a sister who loved him, had nephews, and was a person that was cared for.”
The Family Assistance Community Resource Center, a trauma-informed organization, offers resources for homeless adults, victims of human trafficking and domestic violence, homeless youth and at-risk for homeless youth age 12 – 21. Hours of operation are Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. for adult services, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. for youth, located at 839 N. Mt. Vernon Ave., San Bernardino, (909) 571-5659.