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Petra Linden

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Petra Linden, team captain for St. Mary’s Dining Room (aka CEO), sat down with HERLIFE Magazine recently to share her dedication to family and community.

HLM: How long have you lived here? What do you love most?
PL: I split my time between Stockton, where I stay part of the week; and Sacramento, where my twins are in their last year of high school. I was born in Sweden, raised in California, and I lived several years in South Asia and Latin America. I love immersing myself in other cultures. I have been part of the Stockton community for about five years, previously serving as the community health director at St. Joseph’s Medical Center. I am constantly awed by the wonderful collaboration in Stockton, with everyone pulling together to bring about positive changes in the community. I love hearing so many different languages spoken, meeting up with friends for dinner at Thai Me Up, and walking laps around Victory Park.

HLM: How is your heart inspired to serve the community?
PL: Those who are most vulnerable in our community often find themselves in a situation of homelessness, and I want to do what I can to see that their needs are met. Homelessness is a complex issue, and it’s going to take all of us pulling together to address the need. It is through partnership and collaboration that we can help people cope with being unhoused as well create a pipeline into permanent housing with the necessary supportive services.

HLM: What sparks joy for you?
PL: People are what matter most to me in life. When my teenagers want to spend time together, I will drop everything to go on an outing together, play board games or sit and talk for hours. David and I are always on the quest to find the best bike paths in California, and we’re happy to share our favorite gems with other avid bikers. Also, I admire how the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael live a life of service and joy, and I want to be like them.

HLM: Top three bucket list goals?
PL: Make homelessness in Stockton rare, brief and non-recurring; contribute to efforts to address human trafficking internationally; love those around me.

HLM: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
PL: I am not the person who is going to find the cure for a deadly disease, create a new technology to help address global warming or write beautiful music that moves people to tears. Instead, what I can offer to make the world a better place is to bring people together. I love to discover other’s talents and then help them find a place to use those gifts to make the biggest impact. I love to find the rhythm of working together in harmony to create something new and find a common purpose in improving the lives of others. I think the best is yet to come as I lead this amazing team at St. Mary’s Dining Room and work with others in Stockton to eradicate homelessness.

HLM: Can you describe a key event that had an impact on your life?
PL: Reflecting on great movements of the past gives me hope. Working together, people have been able to end child labor, give women the right to vote and abolish slavery. What else can we do if we start with a small group of committed people and invite others to join in?

HLM: Do you have a favorite quote?
PL: Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Proverbs 31:8-9.

HLM: What are you currently reading?
PL: In the book Homelessness is a Housing Problem, Gregg Colburn and Clayton Page Aldern explore various factors to see what causes homelessness to be more prevalent in one area of the country versus another. They find that the difference is not in access to mental health services or prevalence of drug use, nor poverty, weather or the availability of public assistance. Instead, they argue, based on the data, that the main driver behind different rates of homelessness is simply this: the cost and availability of rental housing. As we look for solutions in Stockton, is this something we should keep at the forefront of our conversations and actions?

HLM: Favorite food or dessert?
PL: I am an ice cream tasting expert, and, ironically, I am also lactose intolerant. So if you’d like to know which brands and flavors of the dairy-free options are the best, I’d be happy to share a pint
with you!