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Packing 400 lunches - and love - to serve the homeless

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“Really, the food and clothing I give them is just a way to get into their hearts,” she says. “A lot of them want to change, but they don’t have ... the knowledge and the emotional support to do that. Some have been on the streets so long they don’t even know where to start.”

What keeps her going, she says, is the success she has had in helping destitute individuals and families turn their lives around.

Kim and Wayne Hill are one such case. The self-employed house painters found their work all but evaporated when the economy began to sour a few years ago. In time they lost their house and found themselves living with their young son in a family shelter.

That’s where they met Merrick. She was able to do many things to help them reclaim a normal life, including helping Mr. Hill receive much needed dental work. She even found painting jobs for the couple.

“I can’t begin to tell you everything Marcia did for us,” says Mrs. Hill, whose family now lives in an apartment in a large complex, where her husband is the staff painter. “She’s so compassionate. She’s good at finding that place in your heart that’s lacking – any heartache or sadness – and then filling that void. She’s the ultimate mother.”

Merrick works not only to meet the basic needs of the homeless, but to uphold their dignity and self-respect.

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