Saturday, May 23, 2015

Safe Ground gears up to address shelter shortage

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A flyer I received -- a two-page Agenda for a Safe Ground meeting that was held on May 6 -- is impressive for several reasons, but primarily so because it shows that the organization is gearing up to address the extreme shelter shortage in Sacramento by ratcheting up its Pilgrimage program.

Pilgrimage provides sleep space for homeless folk at area churches. This program -- Pilgrimage -- from among what all Safe Ground attempts to do, has uniquely been very successful.

First up on their Agenda is "Vision for Safe Ground Pilgrimage" which includes the hope of having Overnights -- as they call them -- "365 days per year." That is a highly laudable goal that would address a fervent need. At the Pilgrimage webpage, it shows seven Overnights this month with none yet scheduled for June.. Boosting their current rate of Overnights to EVERY night will never happen, but if they can boost it some, that would save many homeless Sacramento citizens from much misery. That is, both the misery of sleeping outside AND the very potential misery of being cited by the police and then either having to pay a fine for the ticket (unlikely) or go through the time-consuming and -wasting exercise of working off the ticket which is almost always a process of working a couple hours (at most) at Loaves & Fishes.
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Also totally laudable is Safe Ground Pilgrimage's goal for staff and volunteers to be fully respectful and compassionate to those "guests" who come to stay for an Overnight. A hope also addressed in the Agenda is that they want to be fully transparent regarding any mistakes or mishaps that occur such that they may avoid errors in the future and get ever-better as hosts to aid homeless folk who live on the street and scrape to get by.

Having sleep-overs on the floor at a church with the venue for the Overnight changing churches constantly is, surely, a difficult thing for those that manage the operation and for homeless people making use of this service. The ideal would be for there to be a single structure or cabins to provide permanent shelter where the homeless people could keep their things (as opposed to carrying their belongings with them all day which many have to do if they can't afford rental for a locker or storage space).

I attended all of ONE Overnight, years ago. This was a one-off Overnight -- not at a church -- held at the Delany Center on Loaves & Fishes' ten acres abutting 12th Street. Things were very much disorganized in Pilgrimage's early days. At that time, the word Pilgrimage wasn't used. It was called A Movable Sleep at the Safe Ground website.

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