Every day at Maryhouse is different. I could end up doing a number of things throughout the day but my mornings often start the same, with spa water. I am part of the breakfast squad in the morning and my small tasks include: placing the high chairs and booster seats at the entrance to breakfast, carrying the coffee and oatmeal into the dining room, and creating spa water: a fruit infused concoction that we put out instead of juice.
Before we open the gate, we pray over the food. After, the ladies are lead into the dining room where I greet them. I make a lot of small talk with the ladies and know just about everyone by name! I sign ladies up for chores after breakfast and I have a few regulars who always help out in the kitchen. These ladies I get to talk even more with, and we have formed a great bond because of it.
Once breakfast ends, I could end up anywhere. I could go up to the dispensary and run showers or take over Kanika’s window where supplies of all kinds are handed out. I could end up making trips transporting goods from the warehouse to the shack or from the shack to Maryhouse. Every day is different and presents it own challenge.
A lot of the responsibilities I have may seem really small to an outsider and when I first arrived here, I didn’t really understand why my position was so important either. Then I realized that outside of Maryhouse the world looked at my ladies in a very different manner. They do not see Deborah or Ann or Teresa. They see a homeless woman. They don’t say hi. They don’t make small talk. They barely even look at my ladies and, therefore, they don’t see the wonderful individuals they are.
I treat the women of Maryhouse like people and for some of them, that is enough of a gift. I have seen and experienced a lot here at Maryhouse and I will never be the same because of it. My world has been expanded and so has my understanding of it because of these women here at Maryhouse. There will always be a special place in my heart for them and I will never forget what I learned here.
Shannon Chisholm, Sacramento Loaves and Fishes, Sacramento, CA