Hope for Homeless in Sacramento?

At 6:00 pm on January 31st, 2017, the Sacramento City Council and County Board of Supervisors met in a joint meeting in downtown Sacramento. This was the first time that these two groups had come together in over 20 years; the issue that finally brought them together: homelessness. Over 400 concerned citizens attended the meeting, approximately 100 of which hoping to speak directly to our representatives, hoping to suggest solutions to this massive problem.

This should come as a shock to no one. Homelessness has become (or does it simply continue to be?) a prominent issue in the Sacramento region. Individuals speaking on behalf of different interests– businesses, activists, landlords, nonprofits, builders, health professionals– implore our city and county officials to do something about it.

People are dying, children are sleeping outside. The time to do something is now.

After last week’s joint meeting–and for weeks, months, and years prior–The Sacramento Bee published many important articles on homelessness in Sacramento.

The following articles are taken from The Sacramento Bee throughout the last week, and highly worth reading. They are a snapshot, a point in time picture of what homelessness is right now, and how we are addressing the issue as a government and a people.

Hopefully we can look back on these articles in the future, and celebrate how far we’ve come and the solutions we have created. For now, here we are:

“Let Sacramento’s homeless sleep in Peace” Dave Kempa


“Is there hope again to find a way off Sacramento’s Streets?” Erika Smith


“Overcoming the dysfunction on homelessness” Erika Smith


“Sacramento city and county take first steps toward giving housing to homeless” Anita Chabria and Ellen Garrison


“Sacramento moves ahead on public housing for homeless, but county wants more time” Anita Chabria and Ellen Garrison


Mustard Seed School

Each month, thousands of students throughout the Sacramento region experience homelessness. Mustard Seed School, a program of Loaves & Fishes, is a free private school for children ages 3-15 years-old who are currently homeless.

Mustard Seed School provides a safe space for children while their parents access other services on the Loaves & Fishes campus. These services include: breakfast and lunch meals, mental health services, housing information, showers, and various other survival services.

Mustard Seed School also provides students with snacks, lunches, school supplies, and anything else they may need during the school day.

Friendship Park Grand Opening

On January 6, 2017, at 10am, the new Friendship Park opens at Loaves & Fishes. Friendship Park is a state of the art park designed specifically for homeless people to feel welcome and safe. After years of planning, community feedback, and construction we’re ready to open a new Friendship Park especially designed for the much larger number of men and women experiencing homelessness in Sacramento.

You’re invited to help usher in our newly relocated Friendship Park at Loaves & Fishes. The ceremony will feature a triumphant entrance through the park gates, an interfaith blessing, and a ribbon cutting. Enjoy the open house and refreshments immediately following. More info at http://sacloaves.org/friendship-park/grand-opening

Photographs Courtesy of Gale Filter

Tell Me A Story– Spyke and Craig

Spyke & Craig

I got out of prison in 2009 and I’ve been homeless ever since. I’ve been going through Guest House and they are helping me apply for social security and once I get my social security, I can try and get housing. But 99% of housing are apartments and apartments don’t allow large dogs. I have a large dog–half Pitbull and half American bull mastiff named Spyke. Most of the housing will not accept my dog. I tell them, “he’s not a dog, he’s a family member.” I’d like to rent a small house that has a little bit of a back yard. That way, he could have room to run so Spyke has a small yard.

One of the things I’ve had to overcome today is depression and at first I didn’t want to get up and come in. It’s cold out there and Spyke looked at me – “uh, I ain’t going out there, it’s cold out there, I’m staying right here under my blankets.” But I knew I had to come in for my social security paperwork and to get my phone on the charger. Librarian helps me out, and Lisa, she’s always gotta cheerful attitude and always brings me out of my depression. Mart is always there so we can put our dogs in the kennel and do what we need to do, get coffee, eat lunch, and the workers here are always helpful. They are always ready with a lending ear and if there is something troubling you, then you are more than welcome to get it off your chest as long as you don’t start getting violent.

Normally I get up when my alarm goes off at 6:30 am. I get up and hook Spyke up to the bike, come down here because they open the gate at 7 am, and the kennel opens up at 7am, so by the time I get down here it’s a little after 7. Sometimes I don’t get here until 8 o’clock. If it’s raining I stay at camp. [when it’s clear outside] On a day like this I’ll sign Spyke into the kennel, go over to [friendship] park, get my lunch ticket and my coffee but the coffee goes real quick. So, I’ve learned to have a small plastic jar filled with Folgers in my backpack, so if there’s no coffee I’ll use their hot water. Then I come over to the library, read the paper and do the puzzles, sign up for the computer, and after that I’ll walk Spyke and go to lunch. After lunch I’ll get Spyke and go do my [recycling] route and I’ll make it back to camp by 4:30 and get all my recycling separated and get it ready to turn in, I let it build up sometimes up to a week. If I know I need to go to the 99¢ store and get food and snacks I’ll go to the one on Northgate and cash in and then go right around the corner to the 99¢ store.

A friend of mine, Alissa, moved to Idaho last year and she could only take her 2 small dogs and she also had 3 large dogs. One she gave away, the second one she let him out onto the levee, and that left Spyke. She didn’t want to take him to the pound or let him loose on the river because the rangers out here have a “shoot on site” law. If they come into a camp and they see a Pitbull, their first action is to shoot the pitbull, whether it’s leashed or not because they’ve got it in their head that all pitbulls are bread to fight.

So, I said, “Hey I need a companion dog, I’ll take Spyke.” He was just about a year old, so I’ve had him for just about a year and a half. When I brought him into the clinic here he was just about 78 pounds. When I brought him back in August to get all his vaccinations updated, rabies shots updated they weighed him and he was 89.7 pounds and they said he still has 2 or 3, maybe 4 years left of growing to do so don’t be surprised when he tops out between 120 or 130 pounds, that’s the bull mastiff in him. I said, “Cool, we’ll be the same weight.”

Christmas Brunch at Maryhouse

Every Christmas season, Loaves & Fishes hosts activities to celebrate our guests, many of whom have nowhere to go for the holidays. We believe that everyone deserves to celebrate during this time, and do our best to help make the holiday season a bit brighter for our guests.

With the help of generous individuals and groups, Loaves & Fishes is able to provide toys, Christmas, stockings, warm clothing, and hot meals to those who would otherwise go without this Christmas.

A very special event that we hold each year at Loaves & Fishes is our Maryhouse Christmas Brunch. During brunch, we are able to honor the women and families who visit Maryhouse, our daytime shelter for women and children. This year, volunteers and staff served a delicious hot meal to guests, and photographers from the community volunteered to take photographs of women and families. Our guests were then given photographs to keep, or share with loved ones.

Below is a gallery of photographs from this year’s Christmas Brunch. Special thanks to Gale Filter, Theodore Goodwin, and Doug Winter for volunteering their time and talent to Loaves & Fishes and our guests!

Breakfast in Friendship Park

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In Friendship Park at Loaves & Fishes, we strive to provide nutritious breakfasts to our homeless guests.

However, Loaves & Fishes cannot do this alone. Thanks to many generous groups throughout Sacramento, the Loaves & Fishes Breakfast Program is able to serve hearty, healthy lunches to the most vulnerable in our community.

This week, a group from PG&E came to Friendship Park to serve bananas, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, granola bars, and warm beverages to our guests.

To learn more about the Loaves & Fishes Breakfast Program, including how you can help, visit www.sacloaves.org/breakfast.

Welcome to Anneke’s Haven

Anneke’s Haven, a program of Loaves & Fishes, is a daytime kennel for homeless pets. While their pets are in the kennel, guests can access important services such as a hot meal, a shower, and mental health services, knowing their pets are safe and well-fed.

For many experiencing homelessness, pets are their only companions. They are family. Pets provide companionship, safety, and the unconditional love that we all crave.

To help support homeless pets, make a donation at www.sacloaves.org/donate, or bring pet food directly to Loaves & Fishes at 1351 North C Street.

To read more about Anneke’s Haven and the importance of pets to many of those who are homeless, check out this article from the Sacramento News & Review:


5 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

In the season of giving, what can you do to help those experiencing homelessness in Sacramento? Below are 5 simple ways that you can make a difference in the life of a homeless man, woman, or child.  

1.     Stop and say hello

o   Have a conversation. Show someone that you care. Ask how the person is doing; learn a little bit about him/her. It may seem simple, but to show that you care can make a world of difference.

2.    Carry a Care Kit in your car

o   Items in kit may include: granola bars, bottled water, a McDonald’s gift card, a pair of socks, travel-sized toiletries…

3.    Volunteer at a local nonprofit

o   Local organizations serving the homeless in our community include: Next Move, Wind Youth Services, Sacramento Loaves & Fishes, St. John’s Program for Real Change, Volunteers of America, Salvation Army. Information about volunteering is available on each organization’s website.

4.    Host a donation drive

o   Organize a donation drive at your workplace, school, or place of worship. To learn about what service providers need, call or check the provider’s website.

5.    Donate

o   Service providers are always accepting monetary donations to help support their programs. See contact information below for details:

–Loaves & Fishes: www.sacloaves.org/donate, or 637-2461

–Next Move: www.nextmovesacramento.org, or 454-2120

–Wind Youth Services: www.windyouth.org, or 561-4900

–Volunteers of America: https://www.voa-ncnn.org/sacramento, or 265-3400

–Salvation Army: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/housing-and-homeless-services, or 448-0890

–St. John’s Program for Real Change: www.saintjohnsprogram.org, or 453-1482

…and many more!

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones!

“It’s a nice thing to do.”


What is the Loaves & Fishes Foot Clinic?

“The foot clinic is an event that happens once a month at Loaves & Fishes. Volunteers and I set up stations in the park where we do basic foot washing, clip toenails, and scrub dry skin from people’s feet. When the cleaning is done, we apply lotion and provide a new pair of socks.

I do the foot clinic because I think it is a nice gesture to do for people. Some may not think that it is a necessity, but a lot of the guests that we see are on their feet every day, walking miles a day, and their feet are not cared for. It is not a service that is provided in many places, and it is kind of a forgotten need for people. It’s a nice thing to do; people really appreciate it.

One other thing that’s nice about it, something I think about, is that a lot of our guests are very lonely. Some do not get a lot of positive touch, so for a lot of our guests having their feet washed is possibly the only physical touch they’re going to get all day or month, and I think that this small gesture makes a difference.”

-Annie Church, Community Service Director at Loaves & Fishes