We made it

Jeff vonKaenel

We made it. Now hundreds of Sacramento-area families who were on the verge of being homeless and some who were already homeless will have a place to live.

We made it because a wide assortment of Sacramentans—including numerous faith organizations, business owners and individuals—came together around the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s campaign to raise more than $400,000 for this cause. If we had not raised that much, $1.6 million of federal money would have stayed in Washington, D.C., and around 700 local families would be headed for the streets.

We made it. Now there will be fewer homeless kids wondering why there are big houses all around when their family doesn’t have a small one; wondering why no one cares that they get cold sleeping every night in the car; wondering why Mom is always worried, so very worried.

We made it. Not by having a few rich people write big checks, although there was some of that. We made it because numerous faith organizations passed the plate at their services, asking the congregants to give a day of their rent or monthly mortgage to the cause of helping local homeless and claiming those matching federal dollars. We made it because KCRA ran a daylong telethon asking people to contribute. And we made it because when SN&R readers learned about the families that would be impacted, where the money would go, how the matching funds would be used, what organizations would receive the funds and which faith organizations were involved, you joined the cause. You decided to contribute at your place of worship, or perhaps you sent money directly to the foundation.

We made it because of all of the work done by a phenomenal group of Sacramento-area residents and activists who have worked tirelessly for decades to help reduce homelessness here in Sacramento. Many of the individuals and organizations they represent—including Salvation Army, Loaves & Fishes, Union Gospel Mission and Volunteers of America—have been at this for more than 30 years now.

We made it because Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson made homelessness prevention a priority. He joined the policy board of Sacramento’s 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness as its chairman and then expanded the policy board to include the business community.

We made it because one of the new policy board members, the Rev. Rick Cole of Capital Christian Center, suggested that we pass the plate and ask all the different faith organizations to participate. No one was going to sit on the sidelines and let so many of our neighbors go homeless. Not when there was a clear way to prevent it.

We made it.

Next, we have to make sure that this success is only the first of many.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.