No longer can it be said that West Sacramento has never had overnight sheltering for its homeless. The Coalition’s first rotating Winter Warming Centers launched on Dec. 2 with five sites, over a dozen participating churches and over a hundred trained volunteers eager to pour out a new generation of compassion on the city’s most vulnerable.
“This is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of,” said Sonia Fonseca, one of the WWC’s full-time Support Staffers. “To see all the different churches and different volunteers coming together to care for the less fortunate every night … to sit and hear the stories of people who spend their days having others reject them … to high-five them as they come off the bus and as you greet them by name … it’s hard to put that joy into words.”
Intake teams, welcome teams, meals teams and morning teams from the churches and community have lavished love and service on the guests in an infectious atmosphere. The number of guests in the first week ranged from 5 to 9 per night, and there is hope and expectation that it will be soon be nearing its pilot capacity of 20 as the weather turns colder and wetter.
By the end of the first week, deep relationships and bonds of trust had begun between guests, staff and volunteers.
“You know, I don’t do shelters,” said one female guest. “I don’t like ’em. But I’ve been here every night this week. This is just different. It’s amazing.”
With approval from the Yolo County Board of Supervisors and the West Sacramento City Council this week, the Mercy Coalition’s Winter Warming Centers pilotprogram was formally green-lighted for 2018-19. The program begins Dec. 2, initially utilizing five different church sites to provide overnight shelter for up to 20 homeless adults a night through March 22.
A special thanks to scores of servant-hearted community members who have cared for this population for many decades, for the congregations who asked to open their facilities, and for our partners in prayer, politics and all around West Sacramento for helping make this happen. Now the real work begins … and you can sign up for your volunteer shift right here.
For decades, winter storms and dropping temperatures in West Sacramento have brought deep concern for the city’s homeless population. Numerous sheltering efforts have been begun and ultimately waylaid, abandoned, found to be too cost-prohibitive, or entangled in zoning or neighborhood opposition.
In 2018-19, the Mercy Coalition’s churches and partners are on the threshold of what they hope will be a breakthrough solution. Following models utilized in other cities throughout the region, the Coalition has a proposal before the City of West Sacramento that would utilize existing church facilities as overnight Winter Warming Centers in a one-year, joint city/county/coalition pilot program. After researching, planning and vetting for more than eight months, the Coalition expects to see the proposal go before city council on Nov. 7.
“This is the moment,” said Don Bosley, the Coalition’s board chair and also pastor of Lighthouse Covenant Church, one of five host church sites that have been identified for the pilot. “We’ve sat in our warm homes for years and wrung our hands about how to help our friends being battered by the elements outside. Now we’ve got this confluence of partnership, volunteerism and political will, and we’ve got a bunch of congregations willing to open their doors and figure out how to make it happen. No one wants to miss this chance.”
Congratulations to our incredible lunch crews, who have now provided a free lunch to the homeless every single weekday for five years! That’s multiple churches teaming together to provide over 60,000 lunches (as well as jackets, socks, books, and even toys for children as available).
“I love working with our people so much,” said longtime lunch coordinator Lynn Phelps. “It’s nothing but a blessing for our teams to be out there every day.”
A huge thank you to all our guests, partners, and contributors at our inaugural City of Mercy Dinner! The Collings Teen Center rocked with West Sacramento’s incredible spirit of can-do, and the result was a big push forward in caring for the homeless and poor in our community.
If you missed out on Chef Brett Stockdale’s sterling four-course meal … or on the impromptu Tom Petty tribute set from musical guests21B … or on the unveiling of the 1st Annual Steve Kruse Spirit of Mercy Award … or on the outstanding table service rendered by teen volunteers from around the faith community …
… well, at least you don’t have to miss out on contributing to all the great initiatives caring for the homeless and poor in West Sacramento. Remember that you can text a donation – like right now! – at (916) 226-5103, or go the donate button on this website!
Back up the truck, folks. The Mercy Coalition this month was accepted as a partner in the Yolo Food Bank’s Grocery Recovery program, an award that will make available 50 additional pounds of food every weekday for the Coalition to distribute to West Sacramento’s homeless and poor.
The 50 pounds of daily food, mostly perishable, will be made available each day from our friends at Raley’s (right across the street from where Coalition teams assemble lunches for the homeless every day at the Collings Teen Center). It dramatically expands the amount and quality of food that the West Sacramento faith community is able to move to those who need it.
“We’ve served almost 50,000 lunches over the last four years on a pretty shoestring budget,,” said Coalition board member Bonnie Dighton. “This grant from the Food Bank is 50 pounds of food a day that we can immediately take right out to the people. Yolo Food Bank, you rock!”
Now you can help care for West Sacramento’s homeless with the click of a button. The Coalition’s online giving portal opened in January 2017, and with it you can give a one-time gift, schedule regular gifts, or direct funds to a specific campaign, such as our funding of emergency hotel nights.
The need for resources is greater than ever. We hope you’ll consider supporting the Coalition’s important work in meeting that need.
For the third straight December, West Sac churches and community members hosted a special holiday meal and resource event for the homeless and the underprivileged in our community. The Winter Warmup brought volunteers of all ages from around the city, and gave away scores of jackets, tarps, beanies, gloves, scarves, and Christmas stockings full of goodies and food gift cards.
The Yolo Community Foundation has honored the Mercy Coalition with a 2016 Philanthropy Award, in recognition of its Daily Lunch Program that has more than 1,000 meals a month to West Sacramentans.
The Coalition’s lunch distribution occurs each weekday at the site of the Yolo County Heath & Human Services offices, at 500 Jefferson Blvd. The award acknowledged the donation of the food product as well as “the dedication and the hard work of the volunteers who collaborate to put this all together.”
Thank you, Yolo Community Foundation … and thank you, Coalition friends and volunteers!
After more than three years of serving together on a heartfelt handshake, the Coalition formalized as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in the fall of 2016. We’re excited about what this can mean for our broadening service and advocacy efforts and our ability to collect tax-deductible donations to serve the homeless and marginalized in our city.
The NPO status also puts in a stronger collaborative position with our numerous partners, and partners we’ve yet to meet. Meet our first board of directors!