Mary’s Kitchen: The Killing of a Miracle. PART 2.

Parts 2-4 of this series feature photos of Mary’s Kitchen by David Freeman.

In a day and age where miracles are almost obsolete, it doesn’t make much sense to kill a bona fide miracle. Yet that is what the city of Orange is trying to do.

Now it’s important to define what a miracle actually is. There are many different interpretations as to what a true miracle is, such as Divine miracles – changing water into wine or the raising of Lazarus from the dead are widely considered acts of God. Yet all miracles have two most important factors in common. 1) all miracles are selfless acts of love. 2) all miracles change lives forever and always for the best.

Much has been said about Mary’s Kitchen over the past year, with all the negativity coming from the City of Orange. “Unabated substance abuse,” “unchecked prostitution,” “overuse of City resources” (i.e. police), and with “rampant crime.” Nearly all of this negativity has come from four men: Orange Mayor Mark Murphy, Councilman Jon Dumbitru, self-proclaimed Mary’s Kitchen patron “Mark M.,” and a “safety monitor” named Michael Sean Wright.

In following up on those accusations of overuse of City resources and crime waves, Mayor Murphy cited an evaluation by police, that arrests have gone up some 200-300% along Struck Avenue down by Mary’s Kitchen. This increase in arrests led to the myth of a crime wave. Upon closer examination, most of the arrests were for such menaces to society as:

  • failure to appear arrest for such infractions as,
  • no bike lights,
  • shopping cart theft,
  • loitering,
  • and open containers of alcohol.

When the city pleaded their case in federal court for permission to shut down Mary’s Kitchen, Judge Carter had to smirk and ask, “This is your crime wave?”

Jon Dumbitru of the Orange City Council reported to Channel 7 News during “Navigation Day”, that he had personally witnessed acts of prostitution on Struck Avenue. Yet Mr. Dumbitru did not call police or inform anyone except Channel 7 News what he had allegedly witnessed. No other witnesses could be found to corroborate his statement. Feverish imagination, Councilman Dumbitru?

On the same day, Mark M. the self-proclaimed patron” of Mary’s Kitchen, informed the public via Channel 7 News that the other patrons of Mary’s Kitchen buy their drugs on one side of the street, smoke them on the other side and then go and have lunch. Interesting enough when patrons at Mary’s Kitchen were shown the interview on channel 7, no one, either new or old patrons, has ever seen Mark M at Mary’s before and not surprisingly, no one has seen him since.

Then there was a Wright, the safety monitor. (NOT pictured to the left!) Just weeks before he became a safety monitor at Mary’s Kitchen, (a position that was strongly suggested to the CEO by the city of Orange) he went on camera for a documentary on the place, praising the patrons for their cooperation and willingness to utilize him and his team. But once the City made him official monitor, his demeanor changed drastically. He began insisting people wear masks and be vaccinated for Covid-19 or he was personally going to have the Kitchen shut down.

When that didn’t work out the way he’d planned, he accused a volunteer of selling drugs in exchange for a boost up in the showering-order list. When another volunteer called him out for this lie, he became aggressive, and fortunately a security guard intervened and defuse the situation. After that incident he was asked to leave Mary’s Kitchen, whereupon he wrote a scathing letter to Judge Carter explaining how he felt threatened at Mary’s Kitchen and that it was an out of control and unsafe place to be. Such are the lies of little men!

All these allegations and accusations came two and a half years after a five-year lease agreement had been signed by the city of Orange with Mary’s Kitchen. In that lease agreement the city praised Gloria Suess for doing an exceptional and knowledgeable job with the homeless and professing that the patrons of Mary’s Kitchen were cooperative and for the most part appreciative of the efforts to help them.

So the question arises, why then, if the city was content enough to sign a five-year lease agreement, did they suddenly change their minds two and a half years later? the answer will be found in the next chapter, Part 3 of “The Killing of a Miracle.”


Coming Up:

About Patrick Hogan

Patrick Hogan is a retired surveyor from the international union of Operating Engineers/ local 12. He has had four short stories and five poems published in the last 5 years. He received his Bachelor degree from Eastern Illinois University in 2010. For the last four years he has volunteered at Mary's Kitchen in Orange California.