Ground blessed for new Friendship Park, haven for Sacramento homeless
Loaves & Fishes has run out of room on the marble slab that lists the names of homeless people who have died in Sacramento.
Soon, the charity will open an upgraded central gathering area, known as Friendship Park, for the 700 or so men and women who visit its sprawling complex north of downtown each day.
We need a new wall. ... It speaks to the value of homeless lives. It says that even if your family has forgotten you, we will always remember you.
Sister Libby Fernandez, Loaves & Fishes executive director
But the project, funded by more than $2 million in private donations, needs an additional $200,000 for a new “memorial wall” to honor men and women whose deaths otherwise might go undocumented, said Loaves executive director Sister Libby Fernandez.
The original wall, installed in 1990, lists 556 names and has run out of space, Fernandez said.
The wall would be installed inside its new Friendship Park gathering area, set to open in November.
“We need a new wall,” she said. “It’s so important. It speaks to the value of homeless lives. It says that even if your family has forgotten you, we will always remember you.”
About twice a month, Fernandez said, the charity hosts memorial services for homeless people who otherwise would have died in anonymity. Many of them take their last breaths on the streets as a result of violence, illness or exposure to harsh weather, she said.
Loaves & Fishes, which accepts no public money, plans to open its refurbished Friendship Park in November. The park, which will feature new gazebos, restrooms and office buildings, will be located just north of its current location onto 2 acres of vacant land on North C Street owned by the charity.
It will have entrances that are more accessible to elderly and clients with disabilities, and will include a dining room and programs for mental health, housing, veterans affairs and legal issues, plus bicycle storage and dog kennels.
The project has been somewhat controversial among area residents and businesses who fear it could bring more problems to an area already battling loitering, garbage and petty crime involving people who receive services at Loaves. But the agency’s administrators insist that Loaves has no intention of adding programs or luring more homeless people to the complex. In fact, they have said the project will shrink the charity’s footprint by consolidating its services in one spot.
The memorial wall is designed to be a centerpiece of the new park, Fernandez said.
For information or to donate, go to sacloaves.org or write to Loaves & Fishes, 1351 N. C St., Sacramento, 95811.