The lives of several individuals facing homelessness were dramatically changed this winter because of the coordinated service effort of Rancho Cordova churches. The Rancho Cordova Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter (IRWS) just launched its first winter season providing four weeks of shelter and warm meals to Rancho Cordova homeless.

The Rancho Cordova IRWS was a coordinated effort between Rancho Cordova faith leaders and the non-profit Sacramento Self Help Housing which met together in a group called PATH which stands for People Assisting the Homeless. PATH met monthly to discuss an action plan to help people in Rancho Cordova who are struggling with obtaining and keeping housing. After meeting for some time, PATH decided they could help Rancho Cordova homeless during the winter season with a rotating shelter program.

Sun River Church has experience housing the homeless through Sacramento Steps Forward’s Winter Sanctuary, a great rotating shelter program that allows churches in Sacramento the opportunity to house up to 100 homeless men and women throughout the night. Through this experience they realized there was a need to house homeless right in their backyard. They wanted to create a separate program that could address the homeless who call Rancho Cordova their home—Homeless people that may not be able to make it to the Downtown Sacramento location to enter into the Winter Sanctuary Program.

Learning from the model of the Winter Sanctuary program as well as some area specific rotating shelter programs that operate through churches in Davis and in Elk Grove, the IRWS leadership team came up with a plan of action to implement their rotating shelter.

Rancho Cordova’s first Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter was a success! It ran from December 29th to January 27th and in its four weeks of operations, 5 churches brought 150 volunteers out to serve! Volunteers served by providing transportation, serving at host sites by providing dinner, hospitality, overnight monitoring and morning breakfast and clean up. All along the way, volunteers were building relationships with the homeless guests and providing resource information in the Rancho Cordova community.

In just four weeks of operations, 40 Rancho Cordova homeless individuals spent at least one night at a local church. Five veterans were able to get into housing and a few more were relocated to live with family members. The churches provided warm meals, sleeping bags, cots and relationship for the guests during their stay. If guests got job interviews, the churches helped provide interview clothes for the big day. Several guests got jobs during their short time in the rotating shelter!

PATH ‘s future goal is to have a transitional housing option to assist in getting Rancho Cordova homeless off the streets and to a temporary housing until they are able to make it on their own. They also plan to implement the IRWS program next winter.

Imagine how much love 40 homeless guests can receive from the 150 volunteers that spent time providing for needs and taking care of all the elements that make a rotating shelter run. Thank you to the Rancho Cordova churches who served together with a common goal of helping Rancho Cordova homeless find hope and housing!

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