A Los Angeles native and soon to be a great-grandmother, Doris Starling has worked with the homeless community for 29 years and loves the work she now does at The Midnight Mission. She smiles, “It allows me the freedom to work with the homeless community with a more humanistic approach.”
In 2016, Doris began her work with The Midnight Mission at their HomeLight Family Living Program helping homeless families on the path to self-sufficiency. She is now the Executive Director and Site Manager for The Midnight Mission’s OC Courtyard. Thus far, it has been her most memorable experience working for The Midnight Mission. “We took a bus terminal without walls and turned it into a shelter that sleeps up to 400 homeless people a night. It is a blessing to be able to do that” she says with satisfaction. “We love our ‘Mission’ and everything it stands for.”
The Midnight Mission, partnering with Orange County, opened The Courtyard on October 5, 2016, at the former Santa Ana Transit Terminal at 400 W. Santa Ana Boulevard in Santa Ana.
More than a shelter from the elements, the Courtyard is a safe and secure environment offering needed services to people who are experiencing homelessness. The facility includes open table feeding areas as well as hydration and hygienic services including restrooms and a mobile shower unit. It is a safe space. “We have security here,” Doris says, “but they’re not guards. What we have are ‘engagers’, ” and they know all of our guests by name.”
At first glance, it is an intense vast space, a literal sea of beds and the homeless community of Orange County are gratefully taking refuge here. Some are with their pets, some are college students, and others are veterans. Doris Starling and her team are here to help them all. She says, “It is so peaceful here and so quiet. People tell me all the time that they feel safe here. To create that kind of environment is what gets me up every morning.”
To learn more about The Courtyard, please visit www.midnightmission.org/thecourtyard.