Community//

Heroes of The Homeless Crisis: How Merideth Spriggs is Helping To Reintegrate Formerly Homeless Veterans Into The Workplace

I have more stories than I can count. But my favorite is Jack, he was orphaned and a widow. He had income but was unable to pay for a deposit. Humiliated he was living at a shelter. I met him when he was panhandling for rent. He was retired and had fixed income he wanted […]

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I have more stories than I can count. But my favorite is Jack, he was orphaned and a widow. He had income but was unable to pay for a deposit. Humiliated he was living at a shelter. I met him when he was panhandling for rent. He was retired and had fixed income he wanted to get money for a deposit so he could rent a place. We helped him get into housing and he was later reunified with a half sibling. He died with dignity in hospice and his family came out to be with him in his final days.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Merideth Spriggs. Merideth received her Bachelors degree in Christian Education from Olivet Nazarene University in 2000. Spriggs then went on to complete her Masters of Divinity in 2004 from Nazarene Theological Seminary. In October 2008 she lost her job and became homeless. After struggling with homelessness, she overcame and was hired at the San Diego Rescue Mission to work in the Recuperative Care Unit. Merideth created a charity, Caridad Inc. in 2010 to help educate the public on the fact versus fiction about homelessness as well as highlight and create partnerships between legitimate agencies and volunteers. She has participated in the 100,000 Homes Campaign. In 2013 she and her husband moved to Las Vegas. In 2014 she joined the Downtown Rangers; a Downtown Project Company providing customer service based outreach to the homeless. Spriggs served as the Southern Nevada lead on outreach for the federal 25 Cities Initiative working with federal VA, HUD, and USICH to coordinate ending veterans’ homelessness in 2015. Funder Downtown Project recognized Merideth’s passion to end homelessness. In January of 2015 the Downtown Project donated to bring Caridad to Las Vegas. The City of Las Vegas also showed support of Spriggs and her efforts by awarding her Citizen of the Month in October 2015. In 2015 Las Vegas Weekly names Spriggs 15 in 15 to watch. Finally, October 2017 the American Heroes Channel and People Magazine featured Spriggs as one of three national finalists for the Red Bandanna Hero award.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was homeless and living out of my car in San Diego. I made a promise to my homeless friends that when and if I ever got back on my feet, I would create a charity that wasn’t the sad face of homelessness but rather fun and light hearted humanizing stories of the streets to tell what was fact versus fiction of homelessness.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The only mistake I made was to call our superhero Captain UnderP*&@nts. I didn’t google it and didn’t realize it was a registered trademark name. We got a nasty letter from the lawyer representing the author. I scanned it uploaded it to social media and used it to poll our followers, they created the name Mighty Tighty. Mighty Tighty is Caridad’s super hero that comes to save the world from bad sock and underwear donations.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

We are re-integrating formerly homeless Veterans into the workplace and providing free produce to a food desert are of downtown Las Vegas.

Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?

I have more stories than I can count. But my favorite is Jack, he was orphaned and a widow. He had income but was unable to pay for a deposit. Humiliated he was living at a shelter. I met him when he was panhandling for rent. He was retired and had fixed income he wanted to get money for a deposit so he could rent a place. We helped him get into housing and he was later reunified with a half sibling. He died with dignity in hospice and his family came out to be with him in his final days.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

I think the community needs to get a better understanding of affordable housing. If they work with homeless service providers to do a master lease of units and lower deposit or criminal background check requirements we could house more people.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I think of leadership as servant leadership. Leaders are in service to empower those under them as well as have a responsibility to be good stewards to the greater community around them.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Honest and transparent charity work doesn’t pay the bills. (Currently some of the highest earning charities have no transparency on Guidestar or Charity Navigator or are not even registered 501c3 to collect donations in the state they are operating in.)
  2. Homelessness and homeless causes are the hardest to raise money/get community support for. (People have told me they don’t feel sorry for an adult that should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps)
  3. Doing things the right way for the good of the homeless clients may put you at odds with other service providers who make money off “churning” versus “results.” This is called poverty pimps in the charity world. (Government and private funding want totals of people put through a program they are funding. They don’t measure recidivism rates, so there is incentive to kick out clients or not make sure they succeed.)
  4. Churches and donors will only support feeding and in-kind donations if they can personally pass out donated items. (People have told me they want a project that they can pass out donations at. Most groups want an experience.)
  5. Social media posting specifically videos can be your best asset. (This past year we have raised $20,000 without asking via social media posts to inform our followers what we are up to.)

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I love the concept of YIGBY. Yes in God’s Back Yard, a housing project started in San Diego. It takes land owned by churches and converts part of their parcel to housing for the homeless. Homeless service providers have a master lease and homeless are placed in homes on the property, no rules in place just housing and supportive case management. It’s an affordable way to end homelessness.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Get to know your adversaries. When two people are talking they aren’t fighting.” Daryl Davis. I constantly deal with opposition. I deal with opposition from politicians, first responders and service providers. I try to show love and compassion and have bridged several gaps and was able to get everyone to come together and work on a common goal of ending veteran homelessness.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to get my two friends together and have a brainstorming session. Tony Gonzalez & Tony Hsieh both have been like big brothers and mentors and I would love to sit them down in a room and get their feedback on my current situation.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram/Twitter: RIMerideth or Caridad LV

Facebook: CaridadLV

Youtube: CaridadLV

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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