COSTA MESA — At the third annual Someone Cares Soup Kitchen Thanksgiving Eve feast, the kitchen was abuzz as dozens of low-income and limited-income senior citizens from nearby Bethel Towers rubbed elbows with the homeless.
“The price is right here, and it’s something I need — that’s for sure,” said Lawrence Bubka, 83, who has lived in Costa Mesa for 20 years.
He receives almost $900 in Social Security and disability checks a month.
A former graphic artist and son of a Polish immigrant who came to California as a tailor in the early 1900s, Bubka dressed in a gray fedora and tweed jacket for Wednesday’s meal.
Ralph Adamo, the chief executive of Newport Beach-based Integrity Wealth Management, which sponsored the feast, said feeding hungry folks is the least he could do during the holiday season. He gave his employees the option of staying in the office or helping out at the soup kitchen.
Either way, they get paid, Adamo said, adding that five employees worked at the feast.
“My father was an Italian immigrant,” he said. “He came here when he was 29 years old. I was taught about the virtue and value of hard work, and how it’s important to give back. So I try to so every chance I get.”
Barbara Joy Vaughn is happy that Adamo gives back.
A retired security guard of 30 years who lives on a fixed retirement income, works at the petting zoo at the Orange County Fair, earning $2,000 for the month.
“That usually goes toward Christmas gifts,” she said. “So I’m grateful for any meal.”
Someone Cares has seen an uptick in the number of hungry folks this year, serving about 100 more people a day.
In the past two days, the kitchen fed nearly 1,000 people.
“It’s the economy. It has to be,” Shannon Santos, executive director for the soup kitchen, said. “But if you look around, it’s not just the homeless. You’re going to see all sorts of people from all walks of life. We’ve got unemployed, underemployed, and then the people who are just plain out on the streets.”
And the soup kitchen has always been there for them, Santos said, with its almost $500,000 annual budget and local food donations from Trader Joe’s, Albertsons and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, among others.
One indication of the kitchen’s success over the years is that it’s never had to turn anybody away for lack of food, Santos said.
“But if they’re using alcohol or drugs, then that’s another matter,” she said.