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Soup Kitchen Serves Needy with Help from Segerstrom, Wahoos SHERRI CRUZ Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chef Sanchez: I never thought when I was growing up Id ever be running a soup kitchen Someone Cares Soup Kitchen started in the 1980s with a 45-gallon pot and 100-pound sacks of lima beans. A young Anton Segerstrom, now general manager of South Coast Plaza, delivered the beans from his family farm to Merle Hatlebergs soup kitchen in Costa Mesa. Hatleberg used the beans to make soup to feed the hundreds of people who visited her kitchen each day. She died two years ago. Shannon Santos, her granddaughter, carries on the charity. Someone Cares Soup Kitchen serves about 300 people a day, seven days a week. On holidays, lines stretch out the door and down a nearby alley. The soup kitchens not out to preach or fix anyone, according to Santos. It takes people as they are and gives them what they needfood and the basics: shoes, coats, bandages, toiletries and similar items. They have no agenda other than to help others in need, Segerstrom said. Segerstrom has been involved with the soup kitchen for about 25 years. He serves on the advisory board. South Coast Plaza occasionally holds fundraisers for it.

Segerstrom also makes a point of volunteering at the kitchen with his children. He and his kids served desserts last Thanks-giving. Basically, we just show up, he said. The soup kitchen has a soft touch. Many of the guests, which include children, seniors and veterans, are known by name. We like to get to know them and get to know what their particular needs are, Santos said. Someone Cares Soup Kitchen operates on a $500,000 yearly budget. Santos said her grandmother was known to say, I know how to cut a penny four different ways. The soup kitchens huba tiny kitchenis stuffed with donated food and supplies. The dining room seats about 75 people. The soup kitchen, which employs four full-time workers and seven part-timers, also gives homework assistance to 45 kids a week in a small partitioned area next to the dining room. The soup kitchen relies on volunteers and is run by many of Santos family members. Teri Hatleberg, Santos mother, is board president. Santos aunt serves on the board as well. Other family members also help out. Other supporters include the Lee family, owner of Santa Anas Wahoos

Fish Taco. Wahoos and the Lee family donate food and financial support, in addition to items such as clothing, Chief Executive Mingo Lee said. The Lees sold the soup kitchens building on 19th Street to Hatleberg in 1997 at a steep discount. That building used to belong to my parents, Lee said. We helped them get creative financing in place. Ed Eaton, a semiretired Newport Beach mortgage banker, helped pay off the soup kitchens $33,000 mortgage. Santos mother, Teri Hatleberg, used to work for Eaton. Eaton and his wife were passionate about expanding the after school tutoring at the kitchen. But founder Merle Hatleberg was old school, he said. She didnt want to expand the soup kitchen to the tutoring program until she paid off the debt of the restaurant, he said. My wife and I said, Were just going to pay off the mortgage. Corey Donaldson, who owns Costa Mesa-based Avalon Properties, leads holiday fundraising for the soup kitchen. Donaldson also blogs about the soup kitchen and its guests. He helped raise money to revamp the soup kitchen office and plans for an extreme kitchen makeover. The soup kitchen has a small but loyal cadre of other supporters. A man known as Hugh, in his 80s, has sent $100 checks every month for the past 17 years. We invite him to everything, but he never comes, Santos said.

The soup kitchen is good at making use of volunteers, who come from a variety of places. Many come from the Orange County Volunteer Center, where people with traffic infractions can do community service instead of paying fines. The soup kitchen also gets volunteers from county schools. Huntington Beachs Quiksilver Inc., Costa Mesas Hurley Inter-national and Black & Decker Corp.s Lake Forest operation also offer clothing donations and volunteers. Much of the kitchen equipment was donated by Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach. Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County gives bagged lunches for the tutored kids. The soup kitchen is constantly sorting food, clothing and other donations. Local grocery stores and restaurants donate food, including Trader Joes, Irvine Ranch Market, Albertsons and Avilas El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant. Chef Lorrie Sanchez of Huntington Beach creates the menu based on donations she gets. I never thought when I was growing up Id ever be running a soup kitchen, Sanchez said. Merle Hatleberg hired Sanchez, who used to be a caterer, nearly nine years ago. Merle Hatleberg still looms large at the soup kitchen. A portrait of her looks out over the dining area. She founded the kitchen in 1986 when she was 65. She was hearing impaired and in a wheelchair.

Before starting the soup kitchen Merle Hatleberg worked at a senior center. She used to give the seniors food out the back door. According to Santos, she told the city, We need a soup kitchen and Im just the person to run it. Costa Mesa then gave her a 90-day operating permit that grew from there. She was a dynamo, Santos said. She had no problem knocking on doors and asking for donations. They called her the saint of Costa Mesa.