When she was 15, D’mitria Pickard spent three months going back and forth between Santa Rosa and Reno, living in her old, white Toyota Camry.
On Saturday, the now 27-year-old re-created that experience, though to a less stressful degree, by participating in Redwood Gospel Mission’s daylong simulation of homelessness, called 24 In Your Car.
Pickard, who now works and lives in the mission’s shelter for women, was among several dozen other participants who spent Saturday night in their vehicles in the lot behind Rincon Valley Christian School.
The event, meant to bring awareness to the plight of shelterless people in the county, served as fundraiser for the Santa Rosa-based mission, which offers shelter and services to the homeless.
“The hardest thing about living in your car is thinking about where you’re gonna park the car, and where you can feel safe throughout the night,” Pickard said. “Sleeping in a church parking lot among people that I know and work with — that’s nothing like circling the streets, circling parking lots, trying to find a well lit secluded area.”
“We wanted to do something that would have a long-lasting effect,” said Eric Sangervasi, 35, an event organizer. “We want people to learn about issues and challenges that . . . those who are living in their car face on a daily basis.”