In the Spring of 2012, our founder Sheila Donegan moved from California to Boston with a call to start a ministry to those most in need. In 2014 she began that ministry in Suffolk County jails in Boston, through Boston Dream Center. For the next 6+ years, Sheila along with a team of men and women served thousands of people in need in the city of Boston through outreaches and weekly discipleship groups inside the jail.
In 2020, Sheila relocated back to Los Angeles and continuing the mission that began in 2012, she began serving the incarcerated inside L.A. County Jails. In the fall of 2020 a team was gathered and we launched Mercy Street our ministry to men, women, youth
and families affected by incarceration.
In 2021 we launched our ministry in Los Angeles in Highland Park and also launched our first social enterprise, Mercy Street Soap Company!
In the Fall of 2021 Mercy Street Soap Company was launched as a social enterprise to create employment opportunities for those coming out of incarceration. Mercy Street Soap Company allows for a diverse variety of opportunities from creation to completion, production and packaging to marketing, sales and management oversight for artisan soap and other fine all-natural products. This business enables us to provide much needed support and opportunities for people coming out of incarceration. We will offer employment and career opportunities with the potential to expand and multiply over time.
In addition to offering training, jobs and even career opportunities, the revenue generated from Mercy Street Soap Company will go to support all of Mercy Street's ministry to the incarcerated. We know that a social enterprise is an important step towards helping those we serve become stable and self-supporting and also allows for us to develop and expand our current ministries.
WHAT IS REAL SOAP?
AND WHY DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Real soap is created by simply mixing water and sodium hydroxide (lye) together with fat and/or oils until they become saponified. Saponification is the chemical reaction that results by mixing the water and sodium hydroxide with oils and fats, which when blended together creates the little miracle that is soap.
Although we know that soap cleanses and disinfects, we don’t often stop to think about how it works. When we lather up, the soap starts its job. Soap molecules are long, with a balloon end which is hydrophilic, or attracted to water on one side and hydrophobic, or water resistant on the other side. The hydrophobic side draws in the dirt and germs which are oil based, and surrounds them, creating what is known as micelles. These micelles lift the dirt and germs up and off the surface being washed and are then rinsed away with water. One of the miraculous aspects of soap is its ability to surround and literally break up and kill not only dirt but also germs, bacteria and viruses, including coronaviruses, which are then washed away with a good rinse.
Mass-produced commercial cleansing products have taken the place of hand crafted soap in the last century, and what we have been sold to believe is ‘soap’ is often synthetically-produced fragranced detergent. Detergents can clean and work in a similar fashion to soap, but they are produced with synthetic chemicals that can be harmful to our bodies and to the environment in both their development and use. Now more than ever it is important to be mindful of combating dirt and germs with materials that are natural and organic as well as sustainably sourced.
In addition to creating pure, artisan products, Mercy Street Soap Company offers training and trade skills to men and women who are coming out of incarceration. Our goal is to provide a healthy life pathway and to provide employment opportunities for people coming out of jail. Our products are available for sale on our website and soon they will also be available in our retail store located at 5615 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA.