Written and photography by Isabel M. Castro with additional photography by Meredith Spriggs.
"Our goal is to tell stories and educate the public about what homelessness entails. It's not a simple solution, and everybody has a different story.” Meredith Spriggs
Caridad extends its impact beyond housing, empowering residents through artistic expression. The organization's art program allows residents to create and sell their artwork, offering income and a sense of pride.
"Many even pay rent with the money they earn, and that's pretty cool,” says Meredith Spriggs, the Chief Kindness Officer.
In 2010, Caridad emerged as a nonprofit organization under the guidance of Meredith, dedicated to serving and educating the Las Vegas community about the complexities of homelessness. The word "Caridad," meaning charity in Spanish, encapsulates its mission—to provide essential services and challenge misconceptions surrounding homelessness. Spriggs, drawing from 14 years of experience in homeless services, including a personal encounter with homelessness, founded the organization to dispel myths and assist individuals facing similar challenges. Caridad currently manages two housing complexes, partnering with case managers, U.S. veterans, and the Clark County Social Service, catering to approximately 70 clients in transitional housing.
One of their housing properties, Hebron, located at the northwest corner of Las Vegas South and Charleston boulevards at 1150 Las Vegas Blvd. South, accommodates 130 residents and focuses on aiding low- and fixed-income individuals. Notably, it serves individuals rather than families, with some residents engaged in maintenance jobs such as Planters in the Alley and Alley Ambassadors. These roles contribute to skill development and reintegrate formerly homeless veterans into society, fostering a sense of purpose.
The creative art programs cater particularly to those facing challenges in securing traditional employment, providing a platform for self-expression and income generation. Additionally, Caridad collaborates with local artists and newly housed tenants to create original artwork for apartment doors, compensating artists with $150 per door and covering art supplies.
Inspired artists showcase their creations on the first Fridays of each month in front of the Recycled Propaganda store, one of Caridad's partners, located in the arts district from 6 to 11 p.m. Christopher Eric Litwin, one such artist, transforms old glass bottles into unique smoking and cannabis paraphernalia, finding therapeutic solace in this unconventional art form. Litwin's creations, displayed at the first Friday booth, bring others joy, highlighting art's transformative power in overcoming personal challenges.
Another resident, Willis, originally from San Francisco, emphasizes the importance of hard work and dedication in achieving goals. His journey, marked by encounters with iconic music figures like Tupac and Keisha Cole, motivates him to inspire others positively. Involved in network marketing, Willis connects with influential figures like Puff Daddy and Kelly Rowland, actively seeking to discover aspiring talent through local events and referrals. His story underscores the potential for positive transformation through creative pursuits and determination. He believes perseverance is guided by a strong connection with God to maintain and share his motivation. He encourages young artists from ages 17 to 30 not to give up, emphasizing the significance of a strong work ethic to cultivate and develop their talents to achieve success.
Caridad encourages community involvement through volunteer opportunities, donation drives, and cleanup days known as "Silent Disco with DJ|City Clean Up" in partnership with the city of Las Vegas. Volunteers provide cleanup services in downtown bars and restaurants, focusing on employing individuals.
Meredith emphasizes the importance of community involvement. "If people prefer helping pet charities that help unhoused dogs, quite literally, there is a nonprofit for you in the homeless space. No gift is too small for our four-legged friends as they, too, need essential items such as food, shoes, clothing, and booties to stay warm and healthy.”
The staff at Caridad urges individuals to educate themselves, volunteer, and contribute to various charities focused on homelessness. As Caridad expands its initiatives, the organization seeks more community sponsors and funding to increase local support, aiming to become the premier service provider in town. Caridad's commitment to refining programs, delivering quality services, and fostering collaborations with partners across the city reflects its dedication to creating healthier, more compassionate communities. The organization's multifaceted approach, combining housing, art empowerment, and community involvement, exemplifies a holistic strategy to humanize homelessness and effect positive change.
Contact Meredith Spriggs, the Chief Kindness Officer, by calling (702) 350-1880 or emailing CaridadLasVegas@gmail.com. For more information, visit www.caridadcharitylv.com, follow us on Facebook @caridad, Instagram @caridadlv, TikTok @caridadlv, and YouTube @CaridadSD.