By Lisa Donchak

On May 17, 400 people attended and volunteered at the eighth annual Soupline Supper, a fundraiser for Santa Cruz’s Homeless Service Center. The event raised over $70,000 for the Center.

The Homeless Service Center has been in desperate need of financial support recently due to an unexpected lack of funding. Individuals and families at the Soupline Supper paid to have a dinner of soup, bread, and dessert, which was provided by local restaurants and bakeries.

Ralph Mijanich, who actively helped organize the event this year with his son, Chris, said the event helped raise money, increase awareness of the shelter, and impress on young students the severity of the homeless situation. “This is a classic cliché of a win-win situation,” he said.

Franklin Williams organized the 25 volunteers from UC Santa Cruz, some of whom were members of campus fraternities and sororities. “We had a great turnout,” Williams said.

In addition to these students, about 75 students from St. Francis High School in Watsonville came to volunteer, according to Chris Mijanich. Chris, who often volunteers at the shelter, helped organize the high school students. He did not expect so many students from St. Francis to volunteer at the event. “We surpassed our projected turnout,” the 17-year-old volunteer said.

Students also had the opportunity to learn about the community outside of their own schools. Chris said the event opened students’ eyes to the issue of homelessness. “There is a large homeless population in Watsonville [too], but they’re just hard to find,” Chris said. “[The event] brought them a different part of the community.”

Karina Ciprian, a first-year at UCSC, also helped organize the UCSC student volunteers. “We were trying to engage students into the environment of helping out the Homeless Service Center,” she said. “We wanted to let the community know that we’re interested and we’re involved, or that we’re trying to be involved.”

The Learning Service Program on campus is continuing to raise money and awareness about the Homeless Service Center. Ciprian created the Facebook group, “UCSC supporting Homeless Service Center,” which currently has almost 250 members.

Ciprian, Williams, and others on campus are working on a variety of projects to finish up the year.

They hope to put donation boxes around campus dorms; as students begin moving out of the dorms, they can donate unwanted items, such as clothes or shoes, to the Homeless Service Center.

Ciprian was pleased with the outcome of the Soupline Supper. She said, “It was great to see the community come together for this event.”

_For more information on how to get involved with helping the Homeless Service Center, e-mail Franklin Williams at