Sunshine is a regular guest at Wellspring and has been coming to the Center for the past six years.
She has lived in Sacramento since she was five years old and grew up in the Callahan Housing Projects.
“Sacramento was small then,” she said. “When you came downtown, it was just a wonderful experience. You would take the streetcar downtown and go to Kreft’s and get a milkshake.”
Sunshine was homeless for two and a half years. The first apartment of her own that she lived in after experiencing homelessness was at the Jade Hotel, a Single Room Occupancy Hotel which was recently demolished and replaced by a Hyatt Place Hotel. She lived there with an old boyfriend.
“We created a heavenly place in the middle of hell,” Sunshine reflected.
Now, Sunshine says her city is but a shadow of its former, soulful self.
“The heart and soul of downtown Sacramento is gone – it’s just metal,” she said. “It’s commercial.”
What do you wish that the public knew about homelessness?
“How devastating it is,” Sunshine said.
What does poverty mean to you?
“Suffering from not having enough to eat, being cold, not having a safe place to stay or no place at all,” she said. “It means being looked down upon by the media and by your community.”
What has your experience with poverty taught you?
“To be a good survivor and how to be able to suffer without having it crush me,” she said.
Active in Wellspring’s craft club, Sunshine is an artist, drummer, poet, and activist.
What does Wellspring mean to you?
“Sanity, survival and blessings,” Sunshine said.
What does Hospitality with Dignity and Love mean to you?
“That we can welcome people that aren’t welcome anywhere else and make them know that they are cherished and that they are loved,” she said. “I know that some of the women that come would have committed suicide or died in other ways if it wasn’t for Wellspring … having someplace to go where you feel connected to people is enough to save a person’s life.”
Why do you think community is important?
“In every culture, all over the world and all through time – community has meant life,” she said.
What is your favorite Wellspring memory?
“There have been so many,” she said. “I think one of my favorites was participating in the Art of Being program.”
A watercolor that Sunshine made in the Intensive, Expressive Art Therapy Program was featured in PTSD Nation: Art and Poetry from Survivors of War, Gun Violence and Domestic Abuse, a traveling art exhibit curated by Diana, another guest at Wellspring.
What do the craft classes mean to you?
“I get so much joy out of being able to sit and create with other women and to see what it does for them and to see the beauty that comes out of what they do,” she said. “The beauty is about the process, the healing and the sense of self-esteem that they get out of doing something that they didn’t know that they could do.”
What is your favorite thing to do?
“To love people,” Sunshine said.
What have you learned as you’ve moved through life?
“To take every situation as an opportunity, to learn something and to gain the wisdom that your faith is what will sustain you, and to just be grateful and to soak up every good thing – every moment of every day that comes your way and to give love,” she said. “And to use what I have learned and experienced to help others and my community.”
What have some of your happiest moments been?
“Anytime when I get to drum with some really god drummers and real good musicians and we get together and the magic happens and we go to another zone and I look around and I see people dancing with radiant faces no matter what their circumstances were when they came – just pure joy and happiness,” Sunshine answered.