Focus on the Homeless Educational and Fundraising event was held on September 24 at the Faith Lutheran Church in Fair Oaks. The event was organized by two prominent non-profit organizations working with people experiencing homelessness, Mercy Holistic Ministry and Bridging Initiatives International.

The theme of the event was ‘Together we can make a difference’ and was attended by over 70 people from all walks of life. Founders of Mercy Holistic Ministry and Bridging Initiatives International spoke about the work of their organizations; the need of the people they serve; shared volunteer opportunities; invited participants to engage and support the organizations. They have addressed the question why anyone should care to respond to the homeless crisis in Sacramento and surrounding cities including the shocking fact that just in the past three years the homeless population in Sacramento has nearly doubled to 10,000 people.

Speaking at the event, Kathie Barkow from Aspire Consulting highlighted, “how housing affordability crisis with rising rents is a major contributing factor to homelessness.” She also said prevention of homelessness requires addressing a wider systemic problem starting from our education and health systems to parenting. She referred to recent studies that tell us that 40% of the homeless population are people with disability or chronic health conditions.

Marion Smith, Site Supervisor at Mercy Holistic Ministry, was a panel member at the event. He underlined, “There is no one-size-fits all solution that addresses the various issues surrounding the homeless crisis. But everyone can decide and be a part of a solution by doing something as opposed to feeling helpless to do anything about it.”

The event was made colorful with live music and sale of different auctions items to fundraise to support the work of the two organizations with people experiencing homelessness.

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Updated: Sep 7

A blog by Nardos Jiffaro

The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of Jesus’ more famous parables. The term “Good Samaritan” has become synonymous with someone who shows mercy. I often ask myself what can I do to be like the good Samaritan? ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. It’s a simple command to understand, but a hard one to live. I know I must try to act, and I suspect you also might feel the same way.

Since I joined Mercy Holistic Ministry five months ago, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with people who are already homeless or on the verge. Despite being citizens of this great nation, many people end up on the street. I heard firsthand stories of people and what led them down the path of homelessness. Of course, each story is unique, and I have one to share.

It's a tough world out there

I met Edward Douglas (name changed to conceal real identity), a 53-year-old veteran who has been experiencing homelessness since 2016, at the Mercy Holistic Ministry site in downtown Sacramento. Edward is a veteran and father of four who worked in some good positions for companies when he was younger. He confided in me that divorce and a major heart surgery in 2016 left him on the street. Despite applying for Social Security and disability benefits, he has been rejected so many times and that made him frustrated.

“I have tried to enroll myself in different shelters, but most are worse than being on the street because of drugs,” he explains. “Once you are out on the street, you must be a hustler to defend yourself.” He showed me a finger he had lost recently during a fight.

Edward has been coming to the Mercy Holistic Ministry mobile shower site at the 1236 C Street since January 2022. He says the shower service is excellent, hygienic, and convenient. He commended the Ministry for extending its shower services to Sundays as it used to be only given on Saturdays. He also highlights the need for quality clothing donations that fit the weather conditions and needs of people experiencing chronic homelessness.

Homelessness can happen to anybody

Homelessness does not discriminate by race, religion, profession, or sex. I have met people with amazing talents, who are college educated, skilled and veterans of military service. Homeless communities are characterized by unemployment, chronic health conditions, divorce, lack of access to affordable housing, behavioral and mental challenges among others.

Before I left my home country of Ethiopia, I was told of privileges that exist for Americans who were in military services. Today, I am shocked to realize that a good number of veterans are out on the street suffering from homelessness. According to Risk factors for homelessness among US veterans' study, veterans are at a higher risk for homelessness compared to the greater population. In 2010, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) estimated that on any given night there were 76,000 homeless veterans sleeping on American streets. According to American Addiction Centers Resource, California has just over one-third of all homeless veterans. (

What can we do?

When you meet someone living in a street, you feel like you should do something to help, but are not sure of the best way to offer a helping hand. Should you give money? Should you give food? Should you simply offer a conversation? I don’t see any formula here, but what matters is to ‘Act and Act Now with love’ instead of tomorrow. There are many ways to help people experiencing homelessness beyond giving money. You can donate clothes, personal hygiene products, food, and drink, volunteer your time, and support an organization working with the homeless. It is important to be aware of free resources that are available for the homeless in our community and we can keep these handy to share whenever the need arises.

The most important thing to do however would be to invest on strengthening systems to prevent homelessness and work to permanently get-off those who are already on the streets. Prevention requires a bigger perspective to address loopholes across multiple systems including housing, healthcare, education, justice system, employment, and many others. As a nation we need to design solutions that catch people before they fall. That is hard work but that is what we need!

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Mercy Holistic Ministry participated in the 2022 Lutheran Women Mission League California-Nevada-Hawaii (CNH) convention from June 10 to 12, 2022. 161 participants attended the convention that was held in Nevada with the theme of “Trust in God’s timing” based on Psalm 62:8.

Mercy Holistic Ministry was one of the organizations that presented in the convention where the Founders were invited as guest speakers on the theme of “Showering the Homeless”. The Ministry was also given a chance to exhibit about its work and the services it provides to the unhoused community in and around Sacramento. At the convention, Mercy Holistic Ministry was voted as one of the non-profit organizations to receive CNH Mission Grant.

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A Blessing for the Forgotten, By Elise S
Mobile showers for homeless coming to Ci