Co-authored by Suzi & Becky from the Tommy Clinkenbeard Legal Clinic
“In joined hands there is still some token of hope, in the clinched fist none.”
We, at Loaves and Fishes, are called not only to respond to the material and spiritual needs of the individuals we serve, but also to advocate with them and for them. As a marvelous example of how the multiple programs of Loaves and Fishes can serve people, we would like to introduce Saad.
Saad, pronounced “Said”, came from Morocco in 1997 through a green card lottery called Diversity Program. He was hopeful he could obtain a “new life” full of accomplishments. At first, life was going positively with jobs and saving money. However, high rents landed him into homelessness. The downward spiral continued when the life of homelessness led into other issues and a loss of hope. For the first time in his life, Saad turned to drugs and went into a downward spiral culminating in a mental breakdown in 2019. He lost contact with his family for 13 years while he was living with addiction and experiencing homelessness. Fortunately for Saad, there were many agencies which initially assisted him to “arise from the depths,” including Loaves and Fishes (L&F).
Suzi Ettin, Director of the Jail Visitation Program and the Tommy Clinkenbeard Legal Clinic (TCLC), has known Saad for 11 years. He would come to Loaves & Fishes for release services after being in jail; he accessed showers, food, and more. As Saad became clean and sober through various programs, he set a goal to get back to work and find a place to live which presented even more challenges. Many people do not realize how lack of identification, arrest records, unpaid tickets, and probation hinder folks from gaining employment, housing and numerous other things which we take for granted. Suzi began working with Saad and the Public Defenders; Saad came to L&F for an Expungement Clinic in May of 2021 in collaboration with Sacramento Public Defenders Record Cleaning Unit. It was discovered that Saad had to clear up some infractions and get off of probation before the expungement process could start. Our Loaves & Fishes Court, with the help of the Public Defenders, were able to get his infractions reduced to Community Service hours which he was able to work off at L&F. He succeeded in getting early termination of his probation and finally his record was completely cleared.
Saad is now working three part-time jobs and applying for housing. Employers and landlords often run background checks and he now has a clean record! Saad is in contact with his mother in Morocco and speaks with her daily. Saad dreams of starting a family with his current girlfriend who lives in Morocco and his goal is to bring her to the US. For this goal to be completed Saad returned to TCLC to see the Family Law volunteer, Becky. Saad was married in 1998 briefly and needed to obtain a divorce but Saad has not had any contact with her since they separated. Becky suggested reaching out on social media to see if he could locate her. A quick search of Facebook found a possibility. The Facebook account had not been used in 10 years but we encouraged him to write a post. He heard back from her almost immediately, another L&F miracle! She had completed the divorce many years ago and quickly emailed the divorce decree, we called the Hawaii courts and confirmed Saad would receive a certified copy for his records.
Saad’s life is coming together. Saad is determined to remain clean and sober, to continue mental health monitoring, and working with various programs at L & F that assist in his life recovery.
As we finish this letter for publication, Saad has obtained full time employment in a field that he was interested in. He recently reported to Suzi and Becky that he feels a pull to return to his spiritual roots of Morocco. As a young person he was not committed to his Muslim faith; however, he has been moved to seek out his religion because of the abundance of assistance he has received. He has joined a local Mosque and attends regularly.
Saad’s story of hope and perseverance is just one of the many that we are privileged to witness each day. The Tommy Clinkenbeard Legal Clinic does not accept any government funds and relies on the generous donations from the public to continue our work to nourish the physical and legal needs of our guests and affirm their spiritual need for acceptance and respect.
For more information on these life changing programs please feel free to call Jail Visitation at 916-447-9472 or the Tommy Clinkenbeard Legal Clinic at 916-446-0368. Donations can be made at our website www.sacloaves.org.