Through small acts of kindness—thats how Micah's Way took its form and has been helping struggling people for 14 years. "It began while we were cooking with The Catholic Worker and we looked at each other and thought, 'We can do more than this,'" says Dominick Corradino, the non-profit's Board President.
Their first step to create a new movement: make and deliver burritos in Orange County, often feeding up to 300. Today, with the help of volunteers, they serve coffee and pastries (if available) three times a week at the Civic Center in front of the Public Library. On Wednesday, they go down to the Santa Ana riverbed and pass out coffee and pastries donated by Starbucks and local donuts shops in the city.
Micah's Way, however, has morphed into something more than just passing out food, which both Corradino and director Denis Clarke say also functions as an opportunity to meet and contact people in need of their extensive services. "This was never about food as much as it was assisting and helping these folks find a long-term solution to their problem," explains Clarke.
Micah's Way will give out as much as $60 out of pocket to those in need of it—even more for local students who need to pay for their college units or someone who needs certain shoes for work. Besides giving out clothes, toiletry items and food from their offices on Fourth Street, they also help people get birth certificates from any state in the Country. They assist with DMV vouchers so that the person will have ID fees waived as well as Social Security certificates.They also receive mail for 450 people and help with job referrals and unemployment applications.
And throughout the week, they park an RV outside the County Jail from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. "We want to make sure these men, females and non-cisgender people, who are released at late hours of the night are safe," says Clarke. "Many of them have nowhere to go, no money, buss pass, phones. We will provide them with the resources they need."
"We don't have a predetermined agenda," says Corradino, as he looks out of his office into the waiting room. Three people are waiting. "We deal with whoever, whatever walk through our door. We can't always fix everyone's problems."
"This isn't magic," adds Clarke. "It's grunt work, but we will never turn anyone away. We will guide them in the right direction."
The offices of Micah's Way looks and feels like a home. They have a small gate around the main building that encloses a garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables—lemons, onions, tomatoes, eggplants and more—that Corradino and Clarke explain is available for picking from anyone who wants it. Every person who works at Micah's Way is a volunteer and the organization is fully funded by private donations. They accept walk-in donations of food and clothing, and have a pantry with a fridge and freezer as well as a closet space.
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"Micah's Way is a fairy tale," says Patti McEvilly, an outreach coordinator. "It has helped me be a better person and realize that anyone can help and they can help peacefully."
The organization has just announced a prescription bottle service in which people can recycle their prescription bottles through them; the money will most likely go into an education fund. "We have never wanted this to be about us," says Clarke. "We don't desire praise or attention; we quietly do our moral obligation in helping others because once it becomes about us instead of the people we are here to serve, we are no longer doing the right thing."