Executive Director and Co-Founder
Matt grew up on a family ranch in Merced County. He met his wife, Leah, in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he studied Business Administration. They spent 6 years in San Francisco with Matt doing faith-based community development work in the Tenderloin neighborhood. He has a Master’s of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI and is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America. Matt’s vision for Restore Merced is to see it impact every sector of the city by helping all residents come to know their God-given dignity and worth and contribute their own unique skills and gifts toward the flourishing of the city. He believes this happens when we follow Jesus’ challenge to love our enemies, seek reconciliation and justice, and know that we are deeply loved despite our many shortcomings. Matt and Leah love living in downtown Merced with their two daughters.
Neighborhood Engagement Coordinator
A recent graduate from the University of California, Merced, Monica Perales has spent the last four years working throughout the community. She has volunteered in several elementary and middle schools across Merced County through different programs. Monica grew up in Los Angeles, but found her passion for empowering youth when she moved to Merced and began using the UC Merced Community Engagement Center, which helped connect her to classrooms full of students. To date, she has spoken to over 2,000 8th graders throughout Merced County about her family’s struggles with food insecurity, gang affiliation, and what it’s like being the only member of her immediate family to graduate from high school and hold a degree. Monica hopes to continue empowering youth across Merced County and reminding them that they can overcome any obstacle they might be facing.
Board President & Co-Founder
Caleb was born right here in Merced, and has continued to live in Merced County for nearly all of his of life. During his time away he graduated from Westmont College with a degree in Business & Economics, met his wife, Lori, and managed commercial building projects. After a few years, deep roots and a love for Merced drew him back home. Caleb now farms almonds and manages the real estate side of restoring houses back into homes. He provides Restore Merced overarching strategic oversight, operational support, and continues to help build-out the Restore Job’s program. Caleb has a strong desire, motivated by the love of God, to love our neighbors and to seek the good of the Merced community through the power of work and relationship. This continues to be a humbling and growing experience for him and he’s excited about the next chapter of Restore Merced. Caleb & Lori live in Merced County with their two daughters and two sons.