For many locals who are homeless, they’re in need of more than a home.
When they might have their next meal or an opportunity to shower, brush their teeth and wash their clothes is often uncertain.
Real Life Church and two dozen community volunteers meet these needs once a week in one place. Every Monday night, about 100 people in need gather at Savia: A Community Partnership and get cared for in tangible ways.
“You see the humanity behind folks no matter what they look like, no matter what they smell like, no matter what their clothes look like, you see people for who they are,” Outreach Pastor Kevin Pisano said.
The program started four years ago when Real Life pastors periodically brought meals to the river wash and eventually evolved into the all-encompassing weekly event.
Alongside a hot meal, attendees can take a shower, get a haircut, get a bicycle or have their own repaired, do laundry, choose a donated outfit to add to their wardrobe for everyday use or a job interview, pick up clean toiletries and get medical care.
“People want to see practical things,” the outreach pastor said. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all program. We try to meet those case-by-case needs.”
Spending time with homeless people for that hour allows them to be seen when they often feel invisible throughout the rest of the week, Pisano said.
“Everything we do at Real Life is relational based,” he said. “We want to get to know people.”
For six months, Andi Madden has served as one of the volunteers making people feel seen on Monday nights.
In an emotional encounter on Oct. 30, Madden said one of the regular attendees she had gotten to know shared that he had found a place to live and showed her pictures of his new place.
It is Madden’s hope that everyone who walks through the doors feels like they are deserving of a better life and know that the volunteers want the best for them.
“I hope they leave here knowing someone truly cares about them,” Madden said.
Coming to Savia each week has given retired nurse Judy Adams the chance to put her 43 years of medical experience back to use.
Most of her role is educating homeless and low-income guests about their injuries and advising them on next steps for treatment and care.
“It makes people feel like they are not alone,” she said. “They find a good community and it gives me the opportunity to keep practicing medicine.”
This sense of community drew in first-time visitor Kimberly Carranza.
Though she has a temporary place to live, her housing situation is in flux and she wanted to be around others.
“I love people,” Carranza said. “I am always by myself. Everybody is so nice.”
Weekly attendee Jon Freeman has made a habit of coming to Savia for several years, helping himself to meals and haircuts.
He said being there has made him realize building relationships is more important than having material possessions. Though he is in need himself, he said he wants to give back to those around him.
“I just want to do more for people,” Freeman said. “There are a lot of people that I can help.”