Marissa: Animal Lover, Jewelry Maker, and Member of the Rainbow Community
“Rainbow is the only program that has consistently helped me—and I’ve been through a lot of programs. There are a lot of people like me who have no one to rely on, and we can rely on Rainbow.”
Marissa has been making jewelry since they were a teen. With a talent for turning gaudy brooches into fresh and lovely necklaces, Marissa, now 23, collects old jewelry and transforms it, giving it new life. They also turn old clothing into beautiful new pieces and sell their jewelry and clothing designs on Etsy and Poshmark.
A member of the Rainbow community since August 2020, Marissa says they know they can count on Rainbow. “It’s the only program that has consistently helped me—and I’ve been through a lot of programs,” Marissa says. “There are a lot of people like me who have no one to rely on, and we can rely on Rainbow.”
Marissa and their boyfriend Chris are seeking stable housing after a fire destroyed their apartment and most of their belongings. Currently staying in a tent near Lake Merritt with their dog Zeus, the couple has received emergency support from Rainbow, including hotel vouchers as well as cash and gift cards for food, clothing, and other essentials.
Marissa says RCC Youth Housing Program Director Rasheedah Blake is someone they can rely on. “When I have no one else to turn to,” Marissa says, “I can call Rasheedah, and she’ll help me. If the buses aren’t running and I’m stranded somewhere, Rasheedah will call me a Lyft. She’s someone I can talk to about anything at all and I won’t get judged. She’ll give me advice from an unbiased perspective.”
Marissa’s experience with Rainbow stands out from their experiences with other organizations. “A lot of programs say they’ll help if you do this or that,” Marissa says. “Rainbow doesn’t require you to be or do anything. The only requirement is you need help and are willing to take it.”
Marissa is close to their mother and brother, and boyfriend Chris, who they describe as their “rock.” In addition to selling jewelry and clothing online, Marissa loves animals, and has worked at both a rescue farm and an animal shelter.
“A lot of people don’t know this about me,” Marissa says, “but I know how to clean a cow’s hooves and calm a horse if it’s being aggressive. Right now I have my dog Zeus with me. He kisses me when I’m sad.”
Currently struggling with health challenges, Marissa looks forward to the day they can return to working with animals or find another job utilizing their skills and experience. They recently started a seasonal job at a Halloween supply store.
“Marissa is a fierce self-advocate and believes in justice for all,” says Rasheedah. “Rainbow will continue to support Marissa until they have food and housing stability.”