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Homeless Shelter in Santa Ana Needs More People Like Michelle

Homeless shelter Santa Ana 2016

I met my friend Michelle Hodgson Bleeker at the Bootcamp I attend; she’s one of those hard-nosed instructors who works you over and makes seated in-and-outs look easy.  She brings the same sort of passion into her weekly volunteer work on behalf of Orange County’s homeless community through her church; an efforts she’s led over the last year after starting in 2013.

Michelle and her friends from Good Shepherd Church in Irvine serve dinner every Wednesday night at the homeless shelter in Santa Ana at 400 Civic Center Drive at the old Bus Station.  My wife and I volunteered with some other bootcamp friends last night and we served close to 320 meals.  Isaiah House in Santa Ana prepares the food on Wednesday night (and a couple of other days during the week) and City Net coordinates the food service at the shelter with a goal of three meals a day, seven days a week.  City Net coordinates the volunteers serving food.

Last night’s meal was baked chicken legs, mashed potatoes, ziti with tomato sauce, salad, a variety of breads and desserts.  There were care packages for homeless residents who have dogs and cats with food, collars, pet toys, blankets, as well as personal hygiene packages for residents.  In addition, Michelle coordinates bread and dessert donations from Ralph’s supermarket in Irvine.  The Isaiah House lets homeless residents use the church’s address as a mail stop and personal mail is distributed to homeless residents every Wednesday night; there was boxes of mail.

Good Shepherd Church has been feeding the homeless for nine years now.  Michelle has run the Wednesday night dinner for the past year.

“The thing that compels me to spend my time doing this is that I am blessed to have a home and always have food on my table,” she said.  “I want to give back and I like how every penny that is put into this goes directly to the cause.”

This is the first time my wife and I have volunteered during the Holiday season.  The residents were kind, courteous and grateful.  They said “thank you” many times when the reality is, no thanks are required.  I didn’t need a thing from them.  I wish I could do more.

And on the subject of kindness, there’s something everyone can do and that’s to make a donation – and not just at Christmas, but regularly.  You can donate things, money or time.  But if you’re stuck, here’s what the shelter needs:

Courtyard Needs List

Below is a list of ongoing supplies needed at the Courtyard. You may deliver items to The Courtyard, 400 W. Santa Ana Blvd., Santa Ana. Staff at the front check in desk can receive items between 7 am and 7 pm every day. Donation receipts are available upon request.


Please note: We do not accept perishable food items, canned goods, or children’s clothing.



Thank you!


Items Needed:

  • Coffee
  • Coffee Cups (8 oz)
  • Sugar, Creamer, Non-Sugar packets)
  • Cases of bottled water
  • “Just add hot water” meals
  • Granola Bars
  • Fruit cups
  • Crackers and cheese packets
  • Plates, napkins, plastic utensils
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Plastic Gloves Large
  • Large Trash Bags
  • Brown Lunch Bags
  • 1 Gallon Ziplock Bags
  • Paper Towels
  • 1st Aid Kit supplies – gauze, tape, etc.
  • Printer Ink (HP #63 black and tricolor)
  • Office supplies: printer paper, pens, highlighters, Post-It notes
  • Shampoo and Body Wash (Large bottles)
  • Small Dixie Cups
  • New and/or gently used bath towels
  • Men and Women Underwear – all sizes (new)
  • Bus Passes – can be purchased at local grocery store
  • Gift Cards – Target, Dollar Store, etc.
  • Relocation Funds – in cash donations for guests who are on the list to be reunited with family

out of state and need funds to purchase tickets


Cash Donations: Checks made out to City Net and mailed to PO Box 90243, Long Beach,

CA 90809.


Every penny of tax-deductible donations designated for “Courtyard Guests” will be

spent on resources for homeless neighbors.


If you would like to make a one-time or monthly donation using your credit card please visit (mark Santa Ana Courtyard Transition Center)


For further information please email or call 714-494-9418

I’m grateful to Michelle for asking us to help last night and to see first-hand the situation at the bus depot.  Our last volunteering effort was during the summer before the shelter opened and there were significantly more people who needed help now than then.  She’s making a real difference in the lives of strangers who need kindness more than ever.

This holiday season, please find it in your hearts to give to those who have almost nothing.




  1. Angel Angel December 23, 2016


  2. David Vasquez David Vasquez December 23, 2016

    I drive by the growing encampment at 57 and Orangewood every weekday. It is very depressing.

    People like Michelle are to be commended.

  3. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski December 23, 2016

    There are volunteers there everyday. People making a difference

  4. Vern Nelson Vern Nelson December 24, 2016

    There’s really a church spelled like that in Irvine? You guys are weird.

    • Vern Vern December 25, 2016

      Oh you fixed one “Sheppard.”. There’s another one. Merry Xmas.

      And kudos to Michelle, but as for you, Matthew 6:2-4.

      • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | December 25, 2016

        And your punctuation is wrong. Merry Christmas

      • Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | December 25, 2016

        The post isn’t about me. It’s what I saw and it’s about people like Michelle who are making a real difference. It’s also about what the homeless at the shelter need and there’s a list and instructions about what to do. It’s Christmas and you’re beyond cynical. Hope you were paid good money to play music in church for people worshipping a God you don’t believe exists. I see you got hypocrisy for Christmas Vern. Enjoy it

  5. Dan Chmielewski Dan Chmielewski Post author | January 3, 2017

    hey Vern, just saw your post about the Islamic Center helping the homeless and you volunteered. Nice!

    I’d like you to point out the difference between my post and yours other than the religion of the organizations helping. Additionally, if you actually believed in God which you don’t, I wouldn’t try to shame you with a Biblical verse…but there’s no shame for you in that since you’re agnostic.

    In other news, I just learned my partner on the dessert table passed away a few days ago. What an amazing guy. Its really a shame. The group is going to say a prayer for him and his family tomorrow before they serve the homeless another meal. Nice that so many in OC care for the homeless.

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