Serving Meals at Isaiah House
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
– “Matthew 25:35
On the 4th Monday of each month women and men from St. Paul’s cook and serve a meal at Isaiah House in Santa Ana. Isaiah House is a Catholic Worker homeless shelter primarily for women, but also serving families, seniors and disabled women. They are open all day, 365 days a year, and provide a warm place for homeless women and children to stay. Leia and Dwight Smith manage Isaiah House and Nancy is the in-house chef. The staff and volunteers at Isaiah House feel they were brought together in an attempt to say, “Who is Jesus?” without using words. They aren’t paid for what they do but do it out of gratitude for Christ. What a blessing they have been to so many people!
To learn more about Isaiah House and the Catholic Worker Movement that was established by Dorothy Day during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, please go to www.occatholicworker.org
A note from Denise Oller about her experience serving at Isaiah House:
“Last night was truly a blessing beyond words to prepare a meal, serve, and meet the lovely ladies at Isaiah House. I know that each of us was truly humbled by so many in need, and touched by their heartfelt gratitude and sweet kind praise for our St. Paul’s Church family. My eyes teared up a few times, knowing that each woman is beautiful, and is perhaps a mom, sister, aunt, daughter, or wife and missing her family. It’s comforting to know that Isaiah House provides a safe home to shelter, feed, clothe, comfort, and bless each child of God that knocks on their door. Their warm and loving hospitality, compassion, and tireless generous ways are an inspiration to all. I will never forget our visit and pledge to do much more to assist this wonderful ministry.
There is no greater blessing, especially at Thanksgiving time, than to give our gift of volunteerism to help those less fortunate. Thank you all for the many gifts of your hearts, donations, talents, treasure, and time. You are truly an example that there is no better way to imitate Christ than to be loving and charitable towards others.”
A note from Katya Sutil, a high school student in St. Paul’s Church School, about her experience serving at Isaiah House:
“Everyone who attends St. Paul’s Church has heard numerous stories about the poverty existing around the world. Yes, Tanzania is in dire need of help, but so are the communities of Santa Ana and the rest of Orange County. Every Holy Friday, some of the St. Paul’s High School Church School students go on a retreat to the Isaiah House, a shelter for homeless women. Being a high school freshman, this past Holy Friday was my first time going and I did not know what to expect. The first thing we did Friday was go to the Civic Center and feed the homeless and working poor. We set up a table and gave out plates as people came by. I expected about twenty people to show up, and I was astonished when we drove up and found a line of more than a hundred people patiently awaiting their lunches. We unloaded the food from the van, set it up, and began serving. Of all the people who came by, not one of them left without graciously thanking us. There is a common misconception in our society that those without a home are rude and mean. In truth, they can be some of the nicest people one could meet, and are thankful for whatever they have or are given. They are images of Christ.
When we returned to the Isaiah House, three of us went into the attic in search of heavy blankets. We folded these blankets and placed them in an eight foot tall cupboard. Every day people come to the Isaiah House asking to use blankets for the night. By the end of every evening, less than ten blankets remain in the cupboard. People sleeping on the streets or in their cars need some way of keeping warm. Blankets are something we take for granted, but something many people may die without.
The numerous realizations I have encountered at the Isaiah House have inspired me to return on my own. All my life, I have enjoyed the comforts of sleeping in a bed and not having to worry about food. It is easy for us to get caught up in our own lives and become oblivious to those suffering around us. In the Gospel of Matthew, we are told to help our neighbors. In this case, a neighbor may not just be the person living in the house next door. A neighbor is anyone living in your area, whether in a house or on the street. It has become evident to me that going on two-week mission to Africa is not the only way to help those in need. There is plenty of poverty right here in Orange County.”