It was a typical day at the Loaves & Fishes Maryhouse program for women and children. A hot breakfast was being served to the hungry women and families. Most walked here, some rode the bus, only a lucky few had a car to drive. The lobby was a bustle of activity. Some women resting for a moment, some checking in with the volunteers for any messages, others signing up for a warm shower.
The only difference today was the presence of a Sacramento Bee reporter.
Reporter Erika Smith cut through the busyness and focused in on one woman.
“You’d never know the woman in pink was chronically homeless. On Monday morning, she was hunched over in a chair in the intake office on the verge of tears.
“The woman in pink...has been working with Maryhouse to get permanent supportive housing. But the list is long and getting to the top of it takes time. Time the woman in pink, who has cancer...didn’t think she had left to give. So she took a bunch of pills from her purse and swallowed them with a cup of water from the Maryhouse lobby.”
Emergency paramedics arrived quickly to whisk the woman away to a local hospital. Sadly, these extreme events are all too common at Maryhouse.
The staff and volunteers here work tirelessly to provide a safe and welcoming place for every hungry and vulnerable man, woman, and child in need. In 2015 alone our Maryhouse program served over 3,300 individuals and helped 150 people get into an apartment or shared home.
But, it’s just not enough. Navigating the system is too hard and often leads to long stretches on endless waiting lists.
“...most homeless people who find themselves outside in a tent night after night will be there because they’re in a situation like the woman in pink. They camp because they have no choice.” Erika finished her story. “‘I’m tired of living like this!’ She started screaming as the paramedics loaded her into the ambulance. ‘I’m tired of living like this!’”
I agree with Erika, “She shouldn’t have to.”
Your donation today will help create a safe welcoming place during the day for women like the woman in pink. Please make a donation today.
Sister Libby Fernandez Executive Director Loaves & Fishes