From The Director, November 2013

November 2013

It’s no coincidence. God is connecting the dots of His plan.

Who is my brother or sister? How can we love those who are alienated, isolated, unloved, unseen and avoided? Who in our community are “the least of these?” My heart breaks for those who suffer from mental illness, are homeless and aren’t accessing available resources. One woman facing these circumstances is named “Sue” (name changed). Sue has yet to access our lunch program, legal aid services, or Bible studies. I keep praying for opportunities to make meaningful contact with her and for doors to be opened to better her circumstances.

Each Tuesday I do outreach to homeless individuals in town for several hours. Greeting people by name and caring about them lifts their spirits. It’s an opportunity to visit with folks and get to know them better. Recently, I saw Sue sitting on a cement bench downtown. She was wrapped in a dirty, grey blanket, with bare legs showing and only sandals on her feet – despite 60-degree temperatures. Sitting next to her was another woman who was warmly dressed in a blue sweater. As I watched, I could see that they were deep in conversation. My heart leapt with joy because I knew someone had made a connection with Sue. I knew God was at work! Someone in our community was connecting with this person who had consistently shunned assistance. I did not want to interrupt their conversation, so I placed a jacket, rain poncho and some basic toiletries on a bench nearby in hopes that Sue would take the items. As I left I said a prayer for Sue and the other woman. I would probably never know that other woman, but I prayed for her.

After talking with several other homeless individuals, I drove my outreach assistant back to the church where he had parked his car. I reflected on the past two days. Because of Grace in Action an elderly man got a tarp to keep his sleeping bag dry. A couple was able to wash their clothes for the first time in months at a local Laundromat, thanks to our Laundry Ministry. Hand warmers were distributed to help keep men sleeping outside more comfortable. Bus tickets helped guests get to appointments. “Gifts” like these were possible because of donations to Grace in Action. When I give out these items I often get something in return – smiles, hugs, thanks and tears of gratefulness. It is important to continue to develop relationships with folks who are homeless, to offer God’s love and hope, and to connect folks in community.

After waving good-bye to my outreach volunteer, I looked across the parking lot. Who was walking in front of me? The lovely woman in the blue sweater who had been sitting with Sue! I ran after her and introduced myself. I explained to her that I’d seen her sitting with Sue, and told her about the Grace in Action ministry. She said she was a psychiatric nurse and was a member of a Davis church. She expressed concern about the plight of people like Sue, and she shared that her heart also breaks for our most needy neighbors. We exchanged phone numbers and vowed to keep in touch. What might develop out of this relationship? I’m excited to find out.

What are the chances that I would see this lady and run into her again across town on the same day? Coincidence…? A wise Christian woman I know told me to look for dots to connect as I do God’s work. I thanked God for connecting the dots of His plan. God continues to bring people together to demonstrate His love. Thank you for supporting Grace in Action with financial help, in-kind donations and your time. You are blessing individuals each day, and for that I am extremely thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Mary Lou Rossetto, Director

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