Alameda church providing shelter for unhoused people this holiday season

Tara Campbell Image
Tuesday, December 26, 2023
Alameda church providing shelter for unhoused people this holiday
The Christ Episcopal Church is Alameda is providing unhoused residents shelter from the cold this Christmas.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- The candles were lit and children were singing, setting the scene of a quite typical Christmas Eve service Sunday but at Christ Episcopal Church in Alameda, there's something else going on.

Kareem Williams stands at the back of the church, soaking in the service, and then grabbing his bags to start the short walk over to the church's warming shelter.

"I was evicted in 2020 on March 4, the day COVID started," explained Williams. "I grew up in Alameda. I played baseball here - little league - then came back and coached little league. I just love the island," he said, noting that he's feeling that love in return at the shelter.

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"It's just a blessing to be here. I get inspired everyday seeing these gentlemen, due to being displaced, which some people call homeless."

"Our community at large has a massive structural problem with homelessness and there are not enough place to sleep and eat," explained Rev. Stephen McHale. "This is a little band-aid on a symptom of a massive problem, but it's what we can do so we're trying it."

They've been providing shelter for the past five years; first opening their doors for two nights a week, and now they're open every night.

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"The need keeps growing every year, unfortunately. I wish I could say things had swung the other way," said Alisa Rasera-Holden, whose taken the lead on the shelter. "We know that bigger goals is to look at this as an opportunity to connect people to others services, primarily mental health."

Rasera-Holden making sure there were plenty of presents under the shelter's tree Sunday night.

"We want to make sure people leave here with not only those resources, but food and clothing and really feel loved," she explained.

"For me it's just like, well-felt, warm-felt," said Williams. It's kind of hard because I'm in a community in the hood, kind of where they don't support that being soft and all of that, but for me, I embrace the love that I've been given."

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