Though there are a variety of organizations and services for the homeless in Orange County, a group based in Garden Grove is seeking to make a real difference. Parishioners of Christ Cathedral, one of the closest parishes to the Santa Ana River Trail, are doing their best to meet the needs of those living in the temporary housing created by the inhabitants of the trail. The number of homeless has dramatically increased in recent months which has spurred the need for more outreach. In an effort to serve those most in need in the community, members of the Friends of Christ Cathedral and the Catholic Worker are extending their hands beyond the boundaries of the church building.
These “friends,” are intending to help those they meet to improve their sense of self-worth and to let them know that they are loved. In each short encounter, they hope to improve the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being, one person at a time.
Recently, 16 volunteers brought food and refreshments to homeless men and women who have built a camp along the riverbed between the 5 and the 57 freeways in Anaheim. The volunteers learned that while the food was terrific, their physical presence made all the difference.
“For a while, our homeless friends had an increased feeling of dignity, self-worth, and hope to accompany the rekindled faith that lies at their very core,” said Hank Evers, an organizer. “All this because our group showed up, smiled and gave a little bit of ourselves through this fellowship and friendship activity.”
More than 80 homeless at the riverbed enjoyed burgers, brats, hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans and a variety of homemade desserts.
Evers mentioned the volunteers bonded before their service activity by celebrating the Eucharist together on Christ Cathedral campus.
A concern many people living in the riverbed face is theft. They don’t always have the luxury of leaving their temporary homes and by visiting them where they live, Evers and his team brought much more than food. They brought relief and a sense of peace.
Photos by Ian Cabrera