By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
Many mountain people have been caring for others, donating their time and energy to numerous mountain groups. Many others have recently begun to feed others during this COVID-19 crisis, but Alex Mendoza has been going out of his way to feed others for decades, even before he moved to the mountains from the Los Angeles area four years ago.
His focus has always been veterans; he has such a heart for veterans and especially homeless veterans. “I’ve gone down the street looking for the ‘hidden vets,’ and they are always grateful, especially up here,” said Mendoza.
Over the past four years, he has been feeding homeless veterans and other veterans with his portable kitchen in the mountains and down the hill, in coordination with the other veteran groups on the mountain.
On Earth Day, he set up his kitchen in the parking lot of the Lake Gregory Regional Park skate park in Crestline. He had advertised his outreach on the Facebook pages RimVets and Rimfeeders, where he lets vets know where and when he will be cooking. He has often offered hot meals to all comers in the Crestline and Blue Jay areas. He also frequents Wildwood Park in San Bernardino, where he is well known for delivery of hot meals. His outreach focus is to reach those on the street.
On Earth Day, Rim High grad Mike Peachie (2006) and Michelle Kennedy, who had seen his Facebook postings, came to help him cook and dish up the food. The hot menu was chili verde pork meatball stew, with cooked mixed veggies, a roll and a bottle of water. That day they made over 40 hot meals for distribution.
Since Mendoza had leftover cans of chili and veggies, he said he was planning on donating those to Delanna Covarrubias for her Monday and Thursday hot meals she is serving to needy families in Crestline and Running Springs. “I get donated so much, I feel I need to share,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I hope to continue doing this until I run out of food or containers.
“This last month, fewer are able to help the homeless due to the social distancing. Those who often used to stop by the park have stopped dropping off food to those who congregate there. I am motivated, since I dislike seeing people starving on the street, when there is so much food available in this country. Veterans gave so much to us, they don’t deserve to starve in our country,” added Mendoza.
Mendoza had provided the food for the Health and Resource Fair on the tennis courts last year and hopes it occurs this year as well, as he feels so many benefit from all the information given to the community that day.
“I’ve lived on the mountain off and on for 20 to 30 years,” Kennedy said, “and graduated from Rim in 2000. I feel the desire to help others, so I came by to help Alex today. Giving back is what we mountain folks do well.”