Date: Saturday, October 24th, 2015
We host an event called ‘A RiSING Community’ in which we provide a restaurant-style pop-up with gourmet, organic food served to homeless citizens sitting at linen-lined tables. Our cuisine consists of vegetarian dishes, primarily vibrant, colorful salads, and fruits, vegetables, freshly prepared at a nearby kitchen using organically sourced ingredients.
We serve the Civic Center, Santa Ana homeless community monthly with this celebration which has a population of between 250 – 600 homeless citizens that stay and flow through the area. Our gourmet meals reach typically 125+ people each event.
In addition to healthy cuisine, we also provide practical services: CA ID Reduced Fee, Birth Certificate request forms and checks to pay for the cost of both, clothing and blankets, homeless pet wash, and on-site mobile showers with warm water packs.
Beyond these practical services we also bring live entertainment and open mic for artists in the community including homeless citizens to creatively express and share their talents. We also have a karaoke app with thousands of songs to sing which is another way that people can creatively share and help instill hope through music and merriment.
The focus of our project is on renewing the hope of our homeless citizens while providing practical services to help individuals rise out of their circumstance.
Our mission in serving the same quality of food that we would have at our dinner tables is to offset the left-overs that is often given to the homeless. This is why we source as much organic ingredients as possible, valuing quality over quantity.
The water we serve is alkaline and mineralized. We never serve processed foods, sodas, or sugary desserts. We understand that this vulnerable population is already suffering from high rates of diabetes and obesity. For this reason, we serve foods that help mitigate these health concerns.With each event we rent a cargo van, power generator, and 100+ chairs. We transport these along with 12 six feet tables, EZ-ups, supplies, and groceries to drop-off at the kitchen and then at the event-site. Each event requires much effort and a certain expense but the rewards far out-weight the cost of just simply delivering left-over food to the hungry and leaving immediately after the food is exhausted. Our intent is to bond with the people, create long-term relationships and community.
We typically have close to 100 volunteers help make the event happen. Our volunteers benefit from the experience as much as our clients: hundreds of high school kids and people in the community are introduced to a compassionate way of serving people in need in the most compassionate, and unconventional ways. Volunteers in the kitchen learn how to cook gourmet cuisine, the importance of organic ingredients, as well as ecological practices including recycling, composting, and using exclusively biodegradable serving dishes and utensils.
The live entertainment aspect of the event is something so valuable to the community, especially the vulnerable homeless community that are at the greatest risk of hope-loss, because it does instill hope in the people when they have the opportunity to use creative expression as an outlet. This is evident at the conclusion of each event. The last thing we pack up is the sound system, and when the music is turned off, the silence of hopelessness is even more palpable. We know the impact is strong and residual when we hear people say “thank you for treating us like human beings”, or when they gather to dance and sing to the music we play.