People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.
– Dorothy Day,
American journalist & social activist
Catholic Worker newspaper
Dorothy Day House Berkeley is a volunteer-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that for over 30 years has provided meals, shelter, and employment for low-income residents and people who experience homelessness in Berkeley, California. They are our guests.
We were founded in the spirit of Dorothy Day, a faith-based social change activist who played a major role in the antiwar, women’s rights, civil rights, labor, and human services movements of the 1920s right through the Vietnam Era. She also co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement.
In the "Dorothy Day Way," we foster an incredibly compassionate and collaborative environment with our guests at all levels. Our staff and group of over 70 regular volunteers are very interested in the individual and collective happiness of everyone who comes through the organization’s doors. We view our guests as people and not just mouths to feed or numbers on a spreadsheet. We take the time to learn people’s history, perspectives, and personalities.
Dorothy Day and fellow activist Peter Maurin establish the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement that combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf.
DDH moves our breakfast service to Trinity United Methodist Church, where it remained for the next 12 years.
DDH's Berkeley Emergency Storm Shelter provides shelter for people living outside, one night at a time, allowing them to seek refuge and then leave in the morning. The B.E.S.S. is usually activated from November through April during inclement weather, or when any of the following:
Too hot – temperatures above 100 degrees
Too cold – temperature below 40 degrees
Bad air quality
B.E.S.S.'s location rotates between different senior and community centers.
In December, B.E.S.S. finds a permanent home on 4th Street, which is extended through June 2017 via private donations.
DDH moves into the Veteran's Memorial Building at 1931 Center St. in downtown Berkeley. Our little grassroots organization grows exponentially – becoming a comprehensive one-stop shop with the addition of our Berkeley Community Resource Center (BCRC) and Dorothy Day House Shelter.
In October, B.E.S.S. moves into the Multi-Agency Services Center at 1931 Center St. Berkeley, giving it a year-round location.
At the request of the City of Berkley, B.E.S.S. transforms from a nightly shelter to a 24/7 shelter.
On July 1, DDH's Horizon Transitional Village (HTV) Program begins. H.T.V. shelters 50 unhoused men and women from nearby encampments, giving them access to laundry, shower, and meal services, workshops by locally based volunteer facilitators, health and wellness services, a community clothing closet, and ongoing mentorship and support from our 13 on-location staff members.
Dorothy's Closet, a voucher-based thrift store, opens its doors at 2425 A Channing Way to DDH guests and the public. Guests receive clothing free of charge and an introduction to workforce development in the retail sector.
With the cooperation of the University of California, Berkeley Dorothy Day House begins serving daily breakfasts to the general homeless community at “People's Park” south of the university campus.
DDH expands its breakfast service to University Lutheran Church, adjacent to People's Park.
DDH moves to Christ Church of Berkeley.
BESS opens its doors at 1925 University Avenue every night to provide a safe, warm, and dry place for 90 people who would otherwise spend the night on the streets. This effort continues with great success and with the support of the City of Berkeley and the greater community through August 31.
DDH weathers the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DDH Shelter reduces its population by 50 percent as some individuals are transferred to motels for temporary housing.
The BCRC partners with Alameda County Healthcare for the Homeless to host free COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics.
DDH's Mobile Outreach Service Team (M.O.S.T.) and the Street Partnership Outreach Team (S.P.O.T.) are created to reach over 1,108 individuals living outside in Berkeley in encampments. The teams distribute sanitizer, masks, food, and hygiene kits and offer referrals for housing, mental health services and COVID-19-related testing and health service
DDH launches the Safe Parking and Respite Kickstart (S.P.A.R.K.) program, giving 35 vehicles housing 40 residents a safe place to park and get their vehicles ‘road-ready’ through repairs.