With an invitation from the The UC Berkeley Chancellor’s office, First Pres has been called to partner with the University to establish a “Sacred Rest” temporary daytime drop-in service center on our campus.

What is the Sacred Rest Drop-in Center?
In a recent study on the needs of unhoused communities, interviewees highlighted that access to a safe place to rest is essential to their well-being. Efforts to connect them with support services is also a priority. 

The Sacred Rest Drop-In Center seeks to provide folks with a safe place during the day to wash up, get a healthy meal, rest, and have access to service providers.

  • The temporary center is expected to operate Monday–Friday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and will not include facilities for overnight sleeping/services.
  • The center will be supported by the following:
    • The University’s Homeless Outreach Coordinator (individualized care and case management)
    • City of Berkeley Public Health, Public Works, Police
    • Telegraph Business Improvement District (TBID) Ambassadors and staff
    • A non-profit organization to manage the drop-in center

Construction on the field next to the 242 House has begun in preparation for the Sacred Rest Daytime Drop-in Center. The center will be ready for operation some time in late June or early July. We are grateful for Village of Love who will be running the center and delivering services. More details will be shared as we determine the official opening date.

Partnership Role of First Pres and Impact on the Church

  • The primary request is for lease space that can be used for the drop-in center from early 2022 through the fall of 2024. The lease assigned will ensure that this is a cost-neutral (or even a cost-positive) effort.
  • The space will be on the field next to the 242 house.
  • The University and the City of Berkeley are prepared to provide the expertise and financial support needed to prepare the site for building and hosting the drop-in center.
  • Any additional engagement or support congregants would like to provide is welcome.
  • The University will handle the affiliate contract with the supervising organization, including custodial services

Partnership and Project Benefits

  • Our campus will have a new, usable space for all our ministries.
  • Increased partnership with local support organizations and expanded ability to learn about our community needs as well as be supported in our efforts for maintaining a safe, welcoming campus.
  • Be true to living our mission statement by knowing and serving our neighborhood

Why is this project and partnership important?

Our First Pres Campus Response Group is working with our neighbors on Channing and Dana Streets, and the Sacred Rest Daytime Drop-in Center is a new call to engage with the University, the city, and our community.

Invitation to Long-Term Partnership Vision
The University and city partners seek to work with local churches to establish a new culture of inclusion in the Telegraph neighborhood—one that recognizes the rights of all to use the commons without fear of discrimination and the collective responsibility to ensure everyone feels safe and welcome. The hope is to set an example for other neighborhoods to emulate and to live into our First Pres Mission.

UC Berkeley, with support from the City of Berkeley, is planning to build on People’s Park starting in the summer of 2022. Affordable housing developer, Resources for Community Development (RCD), will construct two needed housing facilities:

  • Housing for 1,100 UC Berkeley students
  • Permanent Supportive Housing, a facility with 75–125 apartments and on-site support resources

Before closing People’s Park for construction, the University is working with the city, the Telegraph Business Improvement District (TBID) and local churches to put essential supports in place for unhoused community members including:

  • Finding housing for the 50-60 unhoused community members currently in the park
  • Installing public restrooms by January 2022
  • Developing a “Sacred Rest” and drop-in service center in the neighborhood

God’s Call to Service
In Israel’s history, especially seen in the prophets, God commands the people to care for the outcast, the needy, the widow and orphan, the stranger and alien (Malachi 3:5). When asked who is my neighbor, Jesus’ response to the lawyer was that he should act neighborly to anyone in need (Luke 10:25-37). But probably the most direct is the double command to love God and love neighbor, summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39.

Now people in need of housing have come to our doorstep. What shall we do? What would God have us do? We have been asked to partner with the City of Berkeley and UC Berkeley while they build housing in People’s Park. While our partnership with the University is not an endorsement of the People’s Park Project, we feel called to minister to those who will be displaced during this interim time and will need places to go during the day as construction takes place. We have a way to make a significant difference and partner with others to care for those in need, the strangers in our midst.

For more information
Join a Table Conversation with members of the Missions and Outreach Team to learn more about the project process and timeline, see model renderings of the building, and ask questions or contact Beth Thomsen or Tom Elson.