LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — After going through 100 submissions, 8 News Now narrowed down our remarkable women of southern Nevada to four finalists.
Over the next four weeks, they will be introduced to you. Today, meet a Las Vegas woman changing the lives of people experiencing homelessness in our area.
“I would love to have not a job… I would love it if there were no homeless.”
Merideth Spriggs is a special lady with a heart of gold. She oversees seven different job sites across the valley with her nonprofit Caridad.
“I have much smarter people than myself, who work under me and a great board that supports us,” said Spriggs.
She doesn’t take herself too seriously and that’s what makes her so approachable to the many residents at Hebron, a popular veteran’s home in the valley.
She’s got a lot to smile about now, but that wasn’t the case in 2008 when Spriggs battled her own time with homelessness.
“In 2008 I had a master’s degree and went from working in a university to living on the streets of San Diego,” Spriggs explained.
“My employer took me to court and took away my unemployment, so my wages were garnished. The week that the market crashed I got that news. I worked two part-time jobs and couldn’t afford to live indoors in San Diego.”
After nearly a year on the streets, she got established and realized she could impact change for others.
“Because I didn’t look like the typical homeless person, I could share those stories and educate the public, fact versus fiction.”
The Caridad charity was born, with the slogan “humanizing homelessness.”
“I’m not a serious person, but also that was my commitment to my friends on the streets, that we would never be the sad homeless charity.”
In 2014 she moved to Las Vegas and brought the charity with her. Over the years, it has received major support and funding to help with job re-integration, housing, and food for veterans here at Hebron.
“I joke we’ve gone from the stinky kid in the back of the class to the pretty girl that gets picked for all the dances. It’s kind of nice that we have this successful program.”
“When the successes do come in like when we get someone stably housed or get them a job after they have been trying for years, it’s just amazing to see those success stories.”
Because she’s still frustrated with “the system,” her long-term goal is to implement the program around the country and train others how to do it.
“We are fixing homelessness and we’ve proven it now with the data, by restoring people back into the community that they’ve been broken from,” Spriggs said. “We’re giving them things to do. People here very much have things to do during the daytime.”
She’s done a lot in a short amount of time, but other successes include securing a Hanes sponsorship for new socks and underwear for the homeless.
She has also established an ongoing partnership with Life is Beautiful, ten people’s lives were changed when they were hired to clean up Fremont Street and alleyways this past year.