Wednesday, April 16, 2014

At the shelter, you can find a ‘home’

Guests of the Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter gather for a communal dinner in the Davis Community Church Fellowship Hall on Wednesday evening. Later, the dining room is turned into a shelter filled with cots for homeless individuals who need to get out of the cold and wet night air. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By Lawson Snipes

My first evening as a guest at the Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter felt like “old home week.”

Perhaps it was because I knew virtually all of the guests from the streets, either as co-beneficiaries of services from Davis Community Meals Resources Center, the recently closed Grace in Action’s Grace House or as writers or client vendors of “The Spare Changer,” our community’s homeless publication for which I am a contributing editor.

But many core volunteers and both chairs of the shelter board of directors were there as well; I served as a board member during its first two seasons. Young volunteer staff and drivers who were new to me seemed like old friends as well.

Perhaps it is because the first week’s host was Davis Community Church, where I am a regular attendee. I believe there were 17 of us the first night and about the same number on the second night. On the first night, it rained heavily as we stood outside the Friends Meeting House for the intake process. Later we sat inside, sipping tea and coffee as we waited for our volunteer drivers to take us to DCC.

Once there, we checked in, chose our morning cleanup jobs and, after everyone who had registered the previous evening had arrived, we stood in a grand circle in the room that served both as our dining room and later — after the cots and sleeping bags were assigned to us — our sleeping area.

Standing in a circle, as if on the front porch of the homes we did not have, we listened to Julie Barlow, co-chair of the Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter, make routine announcements about what to do and where to go should the fire whistle sound; where the women would sleep privately; and when the lights would go out (10 p.m.) The lights would come back on again at 5:30 a.m.

We gave thanks to the volunteer cooks for that night with enthusiastic applause. Julie then asked us to stand together in silence for a few moments, giving thanks in our own individual ways for the bounties and blessings we were about to receive. We then selected our place settings from the nicely placed round tables for six and lined up for buffet-style dinner where we were served by several volunteers — many young people in high school or college.

There were smiles all around, and why not?

Dinner featured vegetarian and beef pastas; several interesting, even intriguing salads; a brown rice and lentil concoction; and lots of pastries, juices, coffee, tea and milk. I was stuffed after two helpings. The evening was uneventful, flawlessly organized by the compassionate and well-trained and well-prepared staff.

Not a disparaging word of any kind was heard from anyone. We were all glad to be there, not just out of the cold and rain, but glad to be with one another in such a safe environment for a change.

And the volunteers were happy to be with us. There are no words to describe that feeling adequately, but trust me, I did not feel homeless at all.

To volunteer, visit

My presence was something of a surprise to both clients and shelter folks, especially board members and core volunteers. No one was as impolite as to inquire, but I felt it, so I let the truth be known, and there is no shame in it: I have been behind in my bills, while comfortably housed, since February of this year. The Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter provides a valuable opportunity to catch up in a month. In one month! How would you like to be able to get back above water in just one month?

I will be able to pay my bills, and pay for the new computer I just borrowed money to buy yesterday, and to repair the cell phone I cracked last week. Though insured, the deductible on this $600 Android is a walloping $130! Ouch!

Everyone seemed to understand, and that is important to me, it really is. I have not been homeless for five years now, except for a short stint when my lease was about up and I was going to have double foot surgery anyway, and it just didn’t make good sense to sign a new lease before returning from a six-week hospital stay.

When the Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter program was first designed, it was to be a no-frills, congregational-based winter shelter — just a roof overhead. It has blossomed into much more.

The second night’s fare was Cornish hen followed by roast duck that a 20-year-old volunteer cooked and brought to us! Oh, there were lasagna and meatballs and something vegetarian, too. The garlic bread was well seasoned and warm. The chocolate devil’s food cake sweet and moist … just the way I like it.

If anyone has a goal, and “chooses” to be homeless in order to achieve it, the Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter is the place to be. Thank you, IRWS of Davis.

— Lawson Snipes is a Davis resident.

2012-13 host site schedule

Dec. 23-29: St. James Church

Dec. 30-Jan. 5: St. James Church

Jan. 6-12: Unitarian Universalist Church

Jan. 13-19: United Methodist

Jan. 20-26: Davis Community Church

Jan. 27-Feb. 2: Davis Lutheran Church

Feb. 3-9: First Baptist Church

Feb. 10-16: Davis Community Church

Feb. 17-23: University Covenant Church

Feb. 24-March 2: University Covenant Church

March 3-9: Congregation Bet Haverim

March 10-16: First Baptist Church

Special to The Enterprise


Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy



‘Eco-Heroes’ help get us from here to there

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Davis elder-abuse case wraps up

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Alleged serial killings highlight GPS limits

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

CHP seeks owner of lost cash

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Home building up in March after frigid winter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Family fiction in miniature showcased at bookstore event

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Local professor subdues unruly man on flight

By Adrian Glass-Moore | From Page: A3

Yolo Crisis Nursery is in crisis; please help

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Seniors can get tips for getting around town

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

School has garden plots for rent

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sugar overload, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Rotarians, students, teachers, parents collaborate on planter boxes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Hop to it: Easter Bunny meets Davis history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Garden doctor: Veggie gardening available year-round

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Animal expert explains dogs’ thinking

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Check out the night sky

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Are we there yet?: Self-reflections of a would-be stage mom

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8Comments are off for this post



Still supporting this guy

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Urban forest under siege

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

Drought care for our trees

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment



UCD staff allows 19 hits in Causeway rout

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS softball struggles in nonleague outing

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Devils open Boras Classic by splitting games

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

JV/frosh roundup: DHS sweeps a trio of baseball games

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Baseball roundup: River Cats get by Grizzlies at Raley

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Giants beat L.A. in 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Sports briefs: Stanford sends Aggies home with a lacrosse loss

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery





Red Union Blue inks record deal

By Landon Christensen | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Craft Center exhibit explores ‘Possibilities’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

RootStock to host wine themed plein aire exhibit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

The California Honeydrops to bring danceable groove to The Palms

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

See Flower Power exhibit at Gallery 625

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery







Comics: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6