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Working Alongside Strong Women

My name is Shawna and I am nearing the end of my service year at Maryhouse, an organization of Loaves & Fishes. At Maryhouse our mission is to extend radical hospitality to the women and children seeking our services. As a team of nine ladies, we run a daytime hospitality center offering respite, showers, clothes, feminine hygiene products, resources, a listening ear, a hug and a community for those seeking our services. It has been an extremely transformative year working and learning alongside the hard working and strong women of Maryhouse.

Our team is made of incredibly resilient and passionate individuals, whom many have their own stories involving homelessness or trauma. This is what makes Maryhouse unique for through pain comes understanding. I have never experienced a more dedicated, forgiving and compassionate group of people. The guests of Maryhouse in some cases consider these ladies to be their family. I swear half the guests come just because they know Mary, the dispensary worker who will be there to “hook them up” with a unique outfit that fits their liking. She is the cause of so many smiles throughout the day. Madison, working the front desk has quickly become a personal Maryhouse private investigator. Using the little free time she has to stay up to date on resources and what is happening around town in order to be best prepared when information is needed. Madison even used her skills to reunite a guest with her lost dog. That was a true “touched by an angel” moment! The three ladies working as the intake specialists offer a safe space for guests to tell their story as well as receive the correct resources for their situation. The intake specialists hear so much heartache and give so much of themselves, being the reason guests are able to find roofs over their heads again. Our director Shannon is behind the scenes working tirelessly so our program can meet the needs of our guests. Her timecard is seemingly never punched out. Heather working the donations is the life of the party and loves with her whole heart, while working so hard to make sure our program stays stocked with all necessary materials. All this work is powered by love. I have seen intense moments of compassion from every single one of my coworkers.

One of my favorite things that Loaves and Maryhouse put on is a memorial service for those who have lost their lives while experiencing homelessness. When someone passes away their name is put onto a stone remembrance wall and each year every single name is read aloud at a special service. For some people that is the only form of memorial they will receive. In this way these folks are honored and remembered for their importance in this world and are always with us.

Being able to see what true compassionate caring looks like has been one of the greatest gifts throughout my year. What it means to accept someone as they are. That everyday is a fresh start. That no human is better or worse than the next. We all have value and are capable of giving and receiving love.

Shawna Weber: Sacramento, California

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