A Promising Partnership

Do you grieve the increasing numbers of unsheltered individuals and families in our communities, some of whom are assaulted, murdered, their possessions ravaged? Are you feeling helpless and frustrated that a workable, sustainable safety net for our vulnerable, unhoused neighbors seems beyond our grasp? We have some good and hopeful news to report.
First Christian Church Vallejo is one of several organizations and faith communities in conversation with Vallejo Together, seeking solutions for serving the unhoused population in our community. Founded in 2010, and a non-profit since 2019, the mission of Vallejo Together is “to foster change, awaken hope and offer opportunities to neighbors and families impacted by homelessness and related crises.” Rev. Dionne Carter is the current Executive Director. Rev. Carter is passionate about serving her community. She has established a weekly virtual Homeless Roundtable for community leaders and other stakeholders, and monthly Interfaith Coalition meetings. Members of FCCV have participated in both forums. On March 19, 2022 several members of our congregation attended a virtual meeting of the Interfaith Coalition. This Coalition is an active response to Vallejo Together’s stated goal of “bringing community residents, stakeholders, public and private organizations together in collaborative partnerships for sustainable solutions.”
One aspect of the work of Vallejo Together is community education on the root causes of homelessness and the need for multi-layered, humane responses to complex situations. At the March 19 meeting we viewed a video on Homelessness as a Public Health Issue. We heard a heartfelt testimony from Joey, who is active with the “Lived Experience” community. Joey shared his story of living for two years as an unsheltered person at the Vallejo Public Library. He related how he had to learn to engage with predators and law enforcement for self-protection. Today, Joey is a strong advocate for homeless persons and a partner with Vallejo Together. He spoke eloquently about “code words” used to describe and dismiss homeless individuals, words such as, “smelly,” “dirty,” “unclean”. We also heard from Vallejo Together Board Member Victoria who works at Stephan Manor School. She noted that there are at least 100 school children living in automobiles or in other non-permanent and tenuous housing situations. There is a current effort within the School District to locate, secure, and stable parking for those whose only shelter is a car or RV.                          

Vallejo Together is seeking to engage in Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with partner organizations. The MOUs will specify roles and responsibilities of Vallejo Together and its partners, for example, providing on-site services and volunteers for community outreach, supplying resources for the “Mobile Basic Needs Program,” supporting the Interfaith Council and its initiatives, and evaluating Council activities.
FCCV is exploring the possibility of creating an MOU with Vallejo Together. To that end, we invite our congregation to a Town Hall style meeting following worship on Sunday, April 24, 2022 in the Fellowship Hall. Please bring lunch and join us for discussion of this important ministry opportunity. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss a formal partnership with Vallejo Together and to answer questions and brainstorm ideas about what a partnership could look like.
Any questions can be addressed to Pastor Christy, Jon or Allison Mezzera, Glenda Goode, or Suzanne Awalt.