Update April 2021

April 2021

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to you on behalf of our volunteers and board members to express our thanks for your continued support of our outreach ministry to homeless and low-income people in our community.

We are grateful that during the COVID pandemic we have been able to hold twice-weekly outdoor lunches through the hospitality of Davis United Methodist Church and Pole Line Baptist Church.

We are thankful to these congregations for their continued support of our work, and we look forward to the day when our hospitality can be extended through their indoor facilities.

During these difficult days a number of churches and individuals have regularly provided sandwiches and other lunch items that we in turn share with our guests. We are privileged to share your generous gifts with those who trust that when they approach us, they will be fed. Those who come where we gather also know they can speak openly about life’s challenges. We continue to hear our guests speak with gratitude for the Spirit in which we relate to them. We offer words of encouragement, challenge and at times caution. We try to do so without judgement or criticism.  Especially during the COVID pandemic, we try to show God’s Grace in our actions.

In these beautiful springtime days and weeks that constitute the season of Easter, when Christians focus on the experience of new life, we try to minister in ways that enhance people’s sense of worth and dignity. This is often, but consistently, done in small ways. People can count on us to see that they have access to bus rides and bicycle repair, masks and hand sanitizer, toiletries and laundry service, clean socks and overnight provisions when they lack them. When they have legal or thorny personal issues too, we are experienced listeners with an awareness of good references and connections to access help.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is recorded as having touted the merits of kindnesses as seemingly insignificant as a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple. (Matthew 10:42) In most of what we do, the names of the disciples are not uttered aloud. But when we are privileged to do such things, we think of you and the One we serve together as his disciples in these difficult days.

I recently attended an online church fellowship gathering. One person expressed a desire to sit in a familiar eating establishment. She desired to enjoy the food that had been prepared in that longed for setting, rather than having to take it home as a COVID precaution. I get it. But at today’s Grace in Action luncheon, I was struck by the stream of people arriving on foot and by bicycle, for whom we are presently that familiar outdoor establishment, a place of welcome, sharing and generous hospitality.

Thank you for being our partners in ministry during these trying times. May you experience the blessing of renewed life and hope as you have generously extended it to others.

Yours in Christ’s service,

Steve Smith

  Director – Grace in Action

Update November 2020

November 2020

Dear Friends,

As we enter the Holiday Season, I am writing to thank you for your support of our ministry. I also ask that you consider a year end gift in support of our work at Grace in Action.  

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Grace in Action continues to provide twice weekly meals for people without enough to eat. We thank Pole Line Road Baptist Church and Davis United Methodist Church for allowing us to use their parking lots for those socially distanced meal distributions.

In addition to food, we also offer bus transportation for people to reach important medical and social services support. We offer clothing and access to laundry services for those who lack such essential things. We provide used bicycles and bicycle repair through our partnership with Davis Bike Collective. As the weather gets colder, we are particularly attuned to those who lack lodging. We advocate for a clean and hygienic approach when people must sleep outside. We provide sleeping bags and rain gear when we see that it is appropriate.

In addition to addressing people’s physical needs for food, warmth, clothing and transportation, we are a spiritually based relational ministry. We know people by name and are familiar with their life stories and current circumstances. Our volunteers don’t work miracles, but they make a difference. They pray with people and offer continued encouragement.

In writing to you, I want to thank you for the ministry you make possible. The volunteers and board members who do the work of Grace in Action are grateful to you. You provide monetary and prayerful support that we try to turn into tangible acts of kindness toward people who feel marginalized. Many of those to whom we minister are consistent in their expressions of gratitude. In asking for your continued support, I want to pass those grateful sentiments to you.

There is a story in the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus heals ten people who were suffering from leprosy.  He tells them to go and show themselves to the priests who also served as public health officers. Those officials had the authority to restore them to normal life in contrast to the continued state of quarantine that limited their lives. On the way to see the priests, the ten lepers were healed. One turned back to thank Jesus. He was a Samaritan, a social outsider, who suffered the additional stigma and isolation of disease. His gratitude endeared him to Jesus.

In this unusual and challenging time, it is easy to feel we are not up to the business of Thanksgiving. But just a few days ago, one of our regular guests thanked me for the atmosphere of hospitality, kindness and friendship that Grace in Action offers. His words are distinctly appreciative. He is the one in ten who wants to make clear that he understands whose love has touched him. Many others understand as well, even if they are more understated.

All of us at Grace in Action are thankful to you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you,

                                              Steve Smith

   Director, Grace in Action

April 2020 Message from the Director

April 15 ,2020

Dear Friends of Grace in Action,

Blessings to you in the season of Easter. The good news of resurrection is encouragement to
maintain faith and hope. To paraphrase St. Paul, “Nothing is able to separate us from the love of
God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:39) These days of COVID-19 are a challenging time for
everyone. I want to thank you for your generosity that has made it possible for Grace in Action to
continue our caring ministry. We work to serve people who live without much of what we
sometimes take for granted.

In these difficult days, the Board members and volunteers of Grace in Action remain committed to
serving the lives of homeless and low-income people in our community. We are continuing to
provide lunchtime food on Mondays at Davis United Methodist Church, and on Wednesdays at
Pole Line Road Baptist Church. We are using a reduced team of volunteers who engage in safe
practices that include social distancing. Instead of indoor gatherings, we distribute sack lunches
that our guests take with them. We continue to make monthly laundry vouchers available to our
guests through the Laundry Lounge, a safe practices facility in Davis. We are grateful to them.
When providing bus passes to essential services, we speak to our guests about safe practices
and social distancing. One of our supporting churches is making sixty masks for us to distribute.
In addition, we recently purchased hand sanitizers to distribute to our guests.

We are also grateful to special friends and partners who continue to do important work in these
extraordinary times. Alysa Meyer is the head of Legal Aid of Northern California for Yolo County.
While she typically meets with our guests on the first Monday of each month as part of our
gathering at Davis United Methodist Church, she is making her staff available to our guests by
phone. Thank you, Alysa.

Perhaps a couple of recent anecdotes from the lives of people we serve will give a sense of the
kind of things we have been able to continue doing.

You may have heard or read about a Davis family who lost a child from an accidental gun death in
their home. Grace in Action was part of a successful coordinated financial effort to relocate the
family as it sought to move forward in a time of trauma. That family has been rehoused in
Woodland.

Empower Yolo is an organization that we frequently partner with in an effort to assist people
threatened by sudden circumstances, particularly women – often with children. Through Empower
Yolo (EY) we recently supported a young mother in her successful effort to move from the EY
shelter to an apartment. We also gave financial support to her completion of cosmetology
schooling that will allow her to be employed and housed while providing for her children.

The Board members of Grace in Action understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has strained the
financial situation of nearly everyone. If you are able to contribute to our ministry, please accept
our thanks. Regardless, we thank you for your prayers as we seek to serve what Jesus called “the
least among us.”

May the Lord bless you and keep you,



Steve Smith
Director, Grace in Action

November 2017 Update

Dear Friends,

Grace and peace to you. As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, please accept the thanks of the ministry team at Grace in Action. Your support makes it possible for us to be in ministry with those Jesus called “the least among us.” Thank you also for reading this letter and considering its appeal.

As my family and I have only lived in Davis a little over two years, I regularly meet people who ask what I do. When I describe my work with Grace in Action, reactions vary. Conversations reflect the mix of feelings and concerns people have about the poor and the homeless. So I spend a good deal of time reflecting on what our ministry does and why we do it, and I pray that future conversations about our work will provide openings for the Spirit’s activity.

It is understandable to wish there were no poor or homeless among us. It is perhaps harder to acknowledge “that person in need could be me or someone close to me.” It is more challenging yet, to experience spiritual kinship with those who appear so different.
The New Testament Epistle of James is often attributed to James the brother of Jesus. In the second chapter he notes our tendency to make judgments about the poor. He goes on to counsel us away from the trap of “judgment without mercy” and asserts that “mercy triumphs over judgment.” (NIV, 2:13)

Mercy is one way to interpret and experience grace. My aging copy of Webster’s Dictionary actually lists twenty-one definitions of grace including the one James calls mercy. Another understanding of grace influenced a favorite book of mine by Norman Maclean that became the film, “A River Runs through It.” One of the characters is an early 20th century Montana minister and fly fisherman (Maclean’s real-life father) who preached that by picking up God’s rhythms we can regain a state of grace or gracefulness. Such an understanding is a motivating factor in our ministry.

At Grace in Action we try to focus on the presence of God in all people whether or not they exhibit grace. Much of what we provide is basic. It takes the form of fellowship and food, transportation, legal assistance, clothing, blankets, bicycle repair, clean laundry and a place for supportive conversations and prayer. In these simple acts we hope people feel more physically comfortable. It is our intention that in being loved they will pick up God’s rhythms and experience more of that state of grace we believe to be God’s will for us all.

Thank you for your support. May God bless you and those who are dear to you, especially in this season of Thanksgiving.

In Christ,

Steve Smith

A Note from the Director

Recently I received a present that I will always treasure. With calloused hands, a dear man who is homeless gave me a salvaged, plastic sign. He said we should post it at Grace in Action because it explained what we do. On it were written the words “spirit, body and soul spa. I met this man several years ago, and he was often inebriated. Since then he has curbed his drinking, attends Bible studies at Grace in Action and shares his faith with other homeless individuals. As we continue to walk patiently beside him, we pray that a path will become clear for him to leave homelessness. God calls all of us at Grace in Action to provide a place for the weary to come for rest and respite.

What a joy it is to partner with you in ministry! Since my arrival in Davis in 1976 to attend UCD, God has been molding and shaping me, but I could not have envisioned where He would lead me as I sought His will for my life. I prayerfully asked God for wisdom, and He made it clear that I needed to humble myself to do what others might be unwilling to do. Cleaning toilets at Grace House was the message I received. I thought, “Really, Lord? You want me to clean toilets for homeless folks?” I called the phone number for Grace in Action and volunteered. I did clean the toilet, but it wasn’t long before I was shadowing the director, Cindy Burger, to allow her more time to assist individuals. When she had a day off, I would fill in for her. When she retired I took over as the Interim Director and then accepted the position of Director. I feel blessed to be part of the Lord’s work through this ministry.

There are life changes occurring at Grace in Action. God is “doing a new thing” in the lives of many people. It is through caring relationships that we see these changes. Guests at Grace in Action know they can come to us for much more than food in their stomachs. Besides a welcoming place, they are given loving care, hope, conversation, prayer, encouragement and Bible study if they desire.

Recently I met with a man, a truck driver by trade, who shared some of his life story with me. When he had a minor stroke, he lost his job and eventually his house. He was in great despair and could not believe he was homeless. It took several weeks before he could take any steps to get back on his feet. Now he is temporarily housed, doing volunteer work and has begun working part time in a local store. Recently I noticed he was quieter than usual and wasn’t eating. I asked how he was doing, and he shared that he had an abscessed tooth. His jaw was obviously swollen, and he was in terrible pain. The next morning I helped him get dental care. After the appointment, he expressed concern about how he would pay for antibiotics, and I assured him that Grace in Action would assist him. He is incredibly grateful for the assistance and acceptance he receives.

Another child of God who is part of the Grace in Action family spent all winter sleeping in her car. She did not qualify for any shelter options because she had a small dog. She had lost her job and faced mental health challenges. We loved, assisted and encouraged her through some rough times. Recently we shared hugs and tears when she announced she would finally have a home. God is blessing all of us!

While some of us are in direct service with our homeless guests, individuals and church partners also support us through prayer, providing lunches, in-kind donations and financial gifts. Each contribution is important to sustain this ministry. Whatever you are able to provide, I want to offer a heartfelt, “Thank you.” I love partnering with God and you to nourish spirits, bodies and souls!

Mary Lou Rossetto

Director, Grace in Action

 

Growing Hope

Hope can be a fragile thing. As we provide hospitality to the poor and marginalized of our community through Grace House, we often hear stories of fragile hope…hope that although still there, is tenuous at best.

Daily, our homeless guests bear the brunt of dehumanizing words when they are referred to as homeless trash, transients, drunks or animals. After the repetition of such ugly descriptors, our guests sadly begin to believe those words define who they really are. Rather than living up to the life-giving potential that God sees in them, they become dehumanized. Many begin to “live down” to the labels that society thrusts upon them. Hope, at such times, can truly be a fragile thing.

How many times have we also found ourselves in a place of fragile hope? Certainly, our hope seems fragile in the midst of a weakened economy, wars in various countries and legislative budget cuts that slash into the very lives of the MOST vulnerable members of our community. Yes, in times like these, hope can be a fragile thing!

Grace in Action offers the shelter of God’s hope and love. The hospitality we offer at Grace House reminds ALL of us that HOPE is still alive and that the Kingdom of God is not far away, or distant…but very, very NEAR! By providing a ministry of presence, we become active participants in Growing Hope in our community. Our hospitality to the stranger in our midst provides the setting for renewed hope as described in Isaiah 43:2.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

We invite you to help us Grow Hope as we:

  • Equip and assist a 22 year old homeless woman as she learns how to mother her newborn.
  • Encourage our guests who have gone back to school or applied for jobs.
  • Express our gratitude to a former homeless guest who ran for a recent open seat on the city council.
  • Applaud our guests who make the choice to seek sobriety and shelter.
  • Help three young children with their homework as their mother flees domestic violence and seeks a safe shelter for her family.
  • Provide the only bus tickets in town to guests who must travel to Woodland for health care, prescriptions, and much needed social services.
  • Host Soroptimists International as they offer special activities for homeless women.
  • Provide meeting space for Legal Aid assistance for our homeless community members.
  • Visit sick or recovering homeless individuals in the hospital.
  • Visit guests who are in jail.
  • Equip local congregation members to minister to the most vulnerable in our community.

Through all of this and more, together we remind our guests and each other that “Nothing is impossible for God.” We keep the bruised reed from breaking and the flame of the smoldering wick of hope alive!

The Board of Directors, Administrative Volunteers and one staff member of Grace in Action, experience our own sense of fragile hope as we present our “Needs and Blessings” before God, our prayer team, church partners and faithful donors. We have no road map, no solid outline of where our daily bread will come from next. In fact, we often wrestle with the tension between charity and mercy, enabling or equipping, helping or hindering as we minister to homeless individuals. Yet, we strive to walk faithfully in this mission God has called us to, because we have hope!

We have hope in the promise that God will never leave us or forsake us. We have hope in the promise that when we ask in faith for our daily bread, our needs will be met. We have hope for a better world as you join us in Growing Hope in our community. We have hope that sufficient and daily grace will be given to us as we continue to offer the shelter of God’s hope and love to those who need it most.

With deepest gratitude for your prayers, support and participation in the mission of Grace in Action.

Cindy Burger, Spiritual Director