Blessings for the Less Fortunate

Follow volunteers into Santa Ana as they bring food to help those who need it the most.

Written by: Kenya Barrett |
Photos by: Ben Nguyen |
Multimedia by: Angelica O’Campo

“Giving back to the community can be so simple. When you see a homeless person asking for things, instead of giving them money, give them food,” Delaney Migues said. “That is usually more beneficial to them in the long run.”

Orange County is full of several well-known cities such as Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach and Irvine. Many of the cities in Orange County have a reputation for being “rich” and “lavish” due to reality television shows such as “The Real Housewives: Orange County,” which portray the county as such. However, some cities within the county may not display as much luxury as their counterparts.

A line of Santa Ana’s homeless population waiting for their servings
“When you see a homeless person asking for things, instead of giving them money, give them food. That is usually more beneficial to them in the long run.”

One city that has had an increase in homeless individuals is Santa Ana; the county seat for Orange County. Santa Ana currently has approximately 15,300 homeless people living around the Civic Center right in the middle of the city, according to the Los Angeles Times. Several of these individuals live in tents set up around town, with many of their belongings hanging inside and outside their “homes.”

Recent studies have shown that the homeless population in Santa Ana increased significantly in the last two years. An organization named 211OC is responsible for counting the number of homeless individuals living in Orange County and has witnessed the amount increase from approximately 12,000 individuals in 2013 to 15,291 in 2015, according to the Orange County Register.

The Santa Ana Civic Center was declared a homeless camp by the city.

Many individuals found themselves homeless due to drug, alcohol or unemployment issues; others just lost their homes due to defaulting payments. However, many have suffered due to Proposition 47, which reduces some drug crimes and other minor crimes such as petty theft and receiving stolen property as a misdemeanor, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website.

Since the crimes are now considered misdemeanors, many individuals are being released back into the streets, living in tents and cars unaware of when their next meal would be, according to Migues.

“There’s nobody there taking care of them, or nobody there helping or assisting them.”

In response to the influx in homeless population, several people and organizations have made it their duty to help this community in any way possible. Mary Migues, a resident of Mission Viejo, Orange County and founder of a non-profit organization, has been helping the residents of Santa Ana for over nine years. She has witnessed first-hand the dramatic change of the city’s population of homeless residents within that time period and vowed to make a difference.

Mary Migues helping out on her usual Monday morning with Tabitha’s Blessings

“Originally, I started going to the Civic Center and Ross cross street, once a month by myself to feed the homeless,” Mary Migues said. “As I got more involved, I decided to start my own non-profit organization, Tabitha’s Blessings.”

With Tabitha’s Blessings becoming an official non-profit in 2012, Mary Migues has managed to become very active within the community, feeding hundreds of people weekly. “When I first began going down to Santa Ana, we were probably feeding anywhere from 50 to 80 people,” Mary Migues said. “And now, recently, the homeless population has shot up tremendously — I feed probably 150 to 200 people a week now.”

Mary Migues encourages people to join the organization and get involved with feeding and assisting the homeless in Santa Ana. People interested can visit tabithasblessings.org, where they can find contact information to begin volunteer work.

Students from colleges such as University of California, Irvine and Cal State Fullerton have volunteered with Tabitha’s Blessings. “Fullerton has an organization called Circle K and what Circle K does, it has college students who basically want to give back to the community. I get students from UCI that help me on a weekly basis,” Mary Migues said.

A group usually joins to help pass out food with Tabitha’s Blessings.

CSUF senior Delaney Migues, who is Mary Migues’ daughter, has contributed to the Santa Ana community by helping her mother distribute clothes and food through Tabitha’s Blessings.

Tabitha’s Blessings listed on the Monday schedule for food at the Civic Center

“I grew up in Orange County, so I do know that most of the homeless do live in Santa Ana. Most of them have mental illness, so that’s a big part of why they are in the streets,” Delaney Migues said. “There’s nobody there taking care of them, or nobody there helping or assisting them. So they are living on the street in their own communities, and are often harassed by the police.”

Mary Migues passing out cups of soup at the end of the line

Making a difference in the community is a goal of Delaney Migues’. As a human services major, she has her eyes set on giving back to the community through educating people about societal issues.

Delaney Migues helps the homeless in Santa Ana by helping Tabitha’s Blessings distribute food. Every volunteer has their own job, according to Delaney Migues.

“I would be in charge of handing out the forks and knives and napkins to each person,” Delaney Migues said.

Tabitha’s Blessings has taken a stand to serve the homeless community of Santa Ana. Students, parents and children can all get involved by making donations or volunteering their time to organizations like Tabitha’s Blessings who have made it their mission to assist the homeless.

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