Longstanding soup kitchen fights efforts by city of Orange to shut down its operation

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- For many years, Mary's Kitchen in the city of Orange has been a place that offered comfort and hope, a non-profit that serves up hundreds of meals a day to the homeless community. But now it looks like the kitchen's days are numbered.

With its future up in the air, many who look for a warm meal, a shower, a place to volunteer, pray or have a sense of community are worried about what's to come. The city of Orange officially gave Mary's Kitchen 90 days to vacate the property.

"The city has said that we have not complied over the years with serving the homeless in a proper way, but I've been here two and a half years, and I've seen no difference," said volunteer Barry Gearin.

Gearin admits among their clients, some people are suffering from mental illness; and says fights happen outside the gate about once a month. But he adds, the volunteers know how to deal with it.

"Just talk to 'em, talk to 'em, hey quiet down let's get something to eat," said Gearin. "Redirect. That's pretty easy, that's not that difficult. Like I said, it doesn't very often."

In a statement, a city spokesperson told Eyewitness News, "We are working with Mary's Kitchen in a collaborative manner to come up with an exit strategy, which for them may include a new location with a new model. Our hope is for a positive outcome."

The CEO of Mary's Kitchen says she is in talks with her attorney to see what options she has for her nonprofit and the people they serve in Orange County.
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