Thank you so much for agreeing to talk to us today, Candace. I'm wondering, how did you find out about Dorothy Day House?
Candace: I found out about Dorothy Day House when I first came to Berkeley. A couple of years ago, I was staying at another shelter, before COVID and all of that. And then they would tell us about different agencies in a community Dorothy Day House was often mentioned as an agency we could rely on that we could utilize for extra resources, food, clothing, even just to charge your phone.
What led to you needing our services?
Candace: I had a situation where I was no longer at my previous shelter. So, I was in-between places. And I knew from previous conversations that the Dorothy Day House was safe and accessible. I needed to shower, I needed to get clothing, I needed to charge my phone, I needed some food, I needed a place to be where I felt like, I could just be accepted. And that's what led me here.
As someone who has had experience with other shelters, how does Dorothy Day stand out? What makes us different?
Candace: Um, I think what makes Dorothy Day different is that they operate for a whole community. Before me even coming here, as a resident at this shelter I knew about them because they reach out to everybody. Seeing that, that's where you want to go. It’s like the saying “You want to go where the love is,” or you want to go where you know, there's an opportunity, where things are being taken care of. I think that that makes Dorothy Day House stand out.
What is a moment that stands out to you that has stuck with you?
Candace: Almost all my interactions with the staff. I think people are so used to doing things for their job that it becomes like a routine, and it makes you sort of go through the motions. That is not the case here. Everyone here is treated the same way – you are not just a category here. Staff members are just into their jobs and want to make a difference. They care about humanity, despite people's situations.
How would you describe your experience staying at the Dorothy Day House Shelter?
Candace: Staying here is more like being a part of a family. I care about the people here. Whether or not I interact with them, I care about their wellbeing and I care about the space. Staff and volunteers can only do so much, so I do my best to try and help keep the space clean and neat to show my gratitude.
Has been able to stay with Dorothy Day House helped you plan for your future?
Candace: My main struggle has mainly been instability, and not having positive support, group or network. Now that I know that I'm somewhere safe and the place I am at wants to help make me a better person and not live moment to moment, I can make plans for my future.
What would you say to someone who's experiencing that instability right now and needs help?
Candace: I would let them know about Dorothy Day House. They have pretty much everything you need - if you need a shower, they have shower facilities. If you need something to eat, seven days a week they serve meals. If you need to wash your clothes, you can do laundry.
Is there anything that I didn't ask you about that you'd like to share that you want people to know about when they read this article?
Candace: I just want people to know that if they have the desire to help and want to reach out, just keep in mind that you never know what people are going through. Regardless of what happened in someone’s life, no one is exempt from having the same thing happened to them.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call Dorothy Day House at 510-705-1325.