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Day Shelter For Homeless Women And Children Marks 30th Anniversary

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Mary House provides services to women and families at Loaves and Fishes in Sacramento, September 15, 2016.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Maryhouse, a day shelter that serves 300 women and children each day.

Shannon Stevens is taking the reigns as director after working as an intake specialist with the program for several years. 

Stevens says Maryhouse offers their guests something "small but wildly important."

"They are incredibly grateful to have a space where they can come in and receive a meal that's cooked for them by folks who care," explains Stevens.  

"They can come in and get a warm shower. Have the space to sit down and talk to a counselor and get connected to different resources in the community. And also just have that one on one time when they can check in with someone. That is unique."

Stevens says the public may not be aware of this vulnerable population because they might not see them out on the street. Stevens adds that mothers find out of the way places where they can hide out with their children.

Dorothy Anthony is a homeless client of Mary House, September 15, 2016. Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Dorothea "Dotty" Anthony's history with Maryhouse goes back thirty years. Anthony first heard about the shelter after she moved to Sacramento from Texas. She was homeless.

"I didn't know what to do," says Anthony.

"I didn't know how to get housing, I didn't know where to go. And the Maryhouse opened their doors, helped me get on my feet, helped me get my kids their education. It helped me understand how I can be more powerful for my family. It helped me grow."

Sister Libby Fernandez is director of Loaves and Fishes. Fernandez says the day shelter was modeled after the original Maryhouse founded by Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement in New York in the 1930s.

"The greatest need in Sacramento is permanent supportive housing and more shelters at night," says Fernandez.

"And that's why we're still open," she adds.

"We can provide a day center for homeless women and children. But at night they have nowhere to go, still. So we do need more options for women and children to get off the streets at night."