Before introducing myself, I would first like to thank you for the support you have shown your local HART group. Especially in the midst of the current pandemic, your kindness is special and goes a long way. I ask that you recognize the impact you have on the lives of our friends and neighbors who do not have a place to call home. I will ask more of you throughout this letter.
My name is Anna. Some of you may remember me, and some of you have never met me! I used to work as an Americorps VISTA with Sacramento Self-Help Housing (SSHH), the nonprofit that plays an active role in these wonderful HART groups, and with Ken Bennett, my mentor and favorite person who has dedicated his life to this impactful work. After my service term, I continued as Development Assistant and Lead Intake Coordinator. I loved my job deeply and undoubtedly grew to adore Ken and his witty humor.
I still remember my first day on the job, which also happened to be the first day of the Sacramento County Winter Shelter. We were in Moe’s Warehouse on C Street across from Friendship Park. As I hustled around, Carla stopped me in my tracks. Carla was a woman in her sixties, her wrinkles deep and happy, and her hands firmly grasping my own. I will never forget how she looked straight into my eyes, smiled with such sincerity, and said “thank you”. It left me humbled, conflicted, and determined. My job was part of a transient solution to a larger problem, and I felt that I did not deserve her gratitude - perhaps you, too, have experienced something similar... I have since been on a journey to find solutions for Carla and others who I met at the County and HART winter sanctuaries.