On March 21st, 2017, Wally Stoves, a regular at Friendship Park, turned 74 years old. His former coworkers, Andy Smillick and Bob Taylor came to the park to celebrate his birthday with a cake in tow.
Wally has been experiencing homelessness for the past 25 years and this was the first time they connected since he started living on the streets. The three men worked together for the city before Wally had a tragic motorcycle accident that resulted in a brain injury.
Wally was brought to the window of the coffee shack and Andy and Bob surprised him with cake. The sweet confection went quickly on the rainy day as the old friends reminisced in the coffee shack.
“It’s refreshing,” Wally said of the surprise. “I like seeing the old friends. We go back to some crazy times.”
Wally likes to come to Friendship Park to people watch. The best lesson that he’s gleaned from life is learning how take everything one day at time.
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
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.
Loaves & Fishes celebrated Thanksgiving on November 22 with the help of hundreds of donors and volunteers. The Sacramento Blues Society took part by entertaining the L&F guests with live music in Friendship Park. Volunteer photographers Gale Filter and Bob Redd captured moments from the concert along with shots of the lunchtime feast.
Rick has been coming to Loaves and Fishes: Friendship Park for quite some time. He is a well known guest in the park and has made friends with not only the staff but, the volunteers as well.
He is usually found in the library in the morning and in the park in the afternoon. He is always recognized by his laugh; even if he’s behind you. He is constantly laughing, making jokes, teasing people, and making other people laugh.
Don’t miss out on the chance to meet Rick Herrera.
Israel is a local Californian from Sacramento. He recently started coming to Friendship Park. “I’ve been here since ’95 before, but just for lunch. Once the park got more popular, I started coming during the day.”
Israel started coming for a full day in June 2016. “When Jessica called me over, she showed me more on Ahern Dr. and I got to know more about the park. I started coming on June 18, 2016.” Israel likes to hang out with friends and the Green Hats (Staff Members) because “it’s funner.”
When I asked him about his favorite things to do in the park he said, “I love playing BINGO and I’ve won a few times. I also like helping the Green Hats with different things like passing out water or sack lunches and helping with ice.”
Jessica and Felipe have been coming to Loaves and Fishes Friendship Park for quite some time.
“I’ve been coming to Friendship Park since I was 21 so that’s 1998, but it’s been off and on. Sometimes I’d have a home and then not…” said Jessica
“Yeah, I’ve been coming since 2001 so that’s 15 years,” stated Felipe.
They come to get coffee and breakfast in the morning, lunch tickets; Felipe can get a shower, and they like to talk to their friends in the park. But their favorite part about Friendship Park is coming to see the staff members, and they like making people laugh.
“I always make people laugh so they don’t cry,” added Jessica.
Felipe commented, “I like coming to play BINGO, fill out my football pool, (and hopefully win) and see the staff members.
Jessica and Felipe are seen almost every day at Friendship Park and we are so glad they’re here to spend time with our guests who could really use a laugh and a smile. We look forward to seeing them every day bright and early for coffee and breakfast.
“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
“I started smoking cigarettes when I was eight. I was the fourth of six kids, and my older brother and his friends loved daring me to do stuff. ‘Take a drag, take a drink, take a puff.’ So I started real young. It’s really too bad… I’m in my 50’s now, and my heart can’t really take it anymore.
“I had been driving trucks for years, until I got this last heart attack. It was a good job–lonely sometimes, but it paid the bills. Ever since my last attack, I can’t do it anymore. It’s too dangerous. I’m looking for something else but, for now, I’m back out here.”