By Michelle Fitzsimmons
City News Editor
Sunshine banished gray clouds as volunteers handed out hot dogs. Jovial conversations intertwined with Christian hymns. Men and women with shopping carts and dogs, people who carry their worldly possessions on their backs and sleep under overpasses didn’t have to worry about eating on Sunday, thanks to the Acts of Love Foundation.
For the last seven years, the foundation has been turning the Peace Park, at the intersection of Mission and Pacific, into a makeshift soup kitchen. It is the charitable and active branch of Potter’s Hand Ministry, an Evangelical congregation, and it is serving more than 40 people a fresh meal every week.
“We’re here every Sunday at two o’clock sharp,” said Ron Keeting, a latex-glove-wearing volunteer and member of Potter’s Hand Ministry.
He points to a tattooed man chatting with a group of dreadlocked guitar players. “That’s our pastor. He’s always out preaching and talking.”
Pastor Dennis Adams founded the Acts of Love Foundation as a way to alleviate harsh conditions the homeless in Santa Cruz experience.
The foundation provides a multitude of services to the homeless and disenfranchised of Santa Cruz. Its ultimate goal, Adams said, is to get the homeless back to their families, and along the way, to counter the neglect that people living on the street are used to.
“We are here to serve impoverished people with unconditional love,” Adams said.
Adams knows many who are eating under the clock tower and introduces himself to new faces. He floats from person to person, listening and laughing, and hardly anyone leaves without shaking his hand and thanking him.
“We’ve helped hundreds of people,” Adams’ wife, Kathy, said. “There are a lot of hurting people here, and we’re just trying to make things a little easier.”
Acts of Love is about charity in action, Adams explained, and no one is turned away because of faith, drug usage, or any other personal circumstances.
“This is care and love with no strings attached,” Adams said. “The Beatles got it right, you know? All you need is love.”
His wife said that Adams preaches because God gave him and his congregation a mission to help people and spread the Christian message.
While not all share his faith, some take Adams’ words to heart.
“When someone comes up to me and says, ‘Dennis, that was an f-in’ great sermon,’ they really mean it,” Adams said.
For more than an hour, a five-man band uplifted spirits while food filled bellies. Smiles illuminated faces as Adams and his volunteers gave not only sustenance, but friendship.
As the last cookies were passed out and the crowd trickled back onto the streets, a young man in a torn T-shirt drew near to Adams.
“This is Justin,” Adams said. “I just met him today. How are you, buddy?”
“Oh good, good,” Justin said. “Here next Sunday?” Adams placed a hand on Justin’s shoulder.
“Here every Sunday,” he said.
For the homeless of Santa Cruz, the Acts of Love Foundation’s Sunday meal is one thing they can count on.
Contact Acts of Love Foundation at actsoflovefoundation.org to volunteer or donate.