​​Mike L. McGarvin is known for his work with the homeless and as the founder and fellowship director of the Poverello House in Fresno, whose mission is to serve the hungry, homeless and destitute. Mr. McGarvin’s dedicated service has earned local and national recognition.

In 1973, he started distributing sandwiches to the poor and homeless, efforts that quickly grew to become Fresno's Poverello House. Today, Poverello House serves three meals a day, 365 days a year, to anyone in need. The organization offers free medical and dental care through the Holy Cross Clinic; provides showers and laundry services to the homeless; serves as a day shelter and safe haven for people on the streets; and houses a 28-bed residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation program and a five-bed transitional home. Poverello House also distributes free clothing, provides recreation, mail service and transportation to the homeless. In 2004, they opened the Village of Hope, a temporary overnight shelter for homeless people who want an alternative to the streets. More recently, Poverello House collaborated with the City of Fresno to open a second village, called the Community of Hope. California State University, Fresno’s Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service-Learning has placed students in a variety of capacities with Poverello House since 1995. Students have participated as part of volunteer activities, service-learning classes, internships and through service with different student clubs and organizations. Mr. McGarvin has also participated actively in events and classes at Fresno State, speaking regularly to students about his passion and commitment to serving the poor.

Mr. McGarvin is an accomplished photographer and has taken portraits of the homeless since the early 1970s. A book of his photographic works, “On the Level: Walking the Streets with Mike McGarvin," was published in 1993. In 2003, Mr. McGarvin published his autobiography, “Papa Mike.”

His outstanding service to humanity in Fresno and beyond embodies the ideals of the California State University and serves as a shining example to its diverse student body. In recognition of his dedication to helping those in need, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Fresno are proud to confer upon Mike L. McGarvin the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.