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These are the current TACO Tenders. For older ones, click here

TACO Tenders - June 24, 2019

Cindy Quinonez is our current Food Coordinator.

This video features Marguerite Grifka, our former FC.

We are so fortunate to have them both making magic happen!

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TACO Tenders - June 10, 2019

Zakkery Clark is a second year law student at California Western. The legal clinic at TACO is one of the practical experiences offered by the school. Presented with the opportunity to provide free legal advice to those who truly need it, Zakk signed up right away.

Zakk feels that his time at TACO is going to make him a better attorney because it has already given him experience in many different areas of law. He plans to work in immigration law and sees plenty of that at TACO but often clients have need of expertise in other legal arenas as well. He also appreciates the entre into the legal community as he has been able to sit with practicing attorneys as they work with clients and they have been helpful in giving him advice about transitioning from law school to law practice.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of his time at TACO is learning to work with the homeless clientele because it teaches some different skills than you learn with the general population. “These homeless individuals are often more distrusting, more jaded, and less prepared (they often lack the necessary legal documents to assist them properly) than their non-homeless peers,” says Zakk. He cites one example that stood out for him because the client, himself homeless, was spending all his time and resources to help out his brother who was in prison.


At the outset, Zakk couldn’t get through to the man that needed information in order to be able to help. The client wouldn’t make eye contact and both Zakk and the client were feeling a bit exasperated.


“He then finally opened up and explained the situation, saying ‘we don’t have any money; I need help. Tell me what to research or give me a lawyer.’ He further elaborated by saying he was a college graduate, but had been homeless for several years after losing his job. He was dealing with many of the problems that come from being homeless: health problems related to sleeping on the streets, his belongings constantly getting stolen, and feeling completely overlooked and ignored by society. Despite all these issues, he had been going to the law library for weeks to research his brother’s case. He only sought us out because he had reached a snag in his research. At the end of the consultation, I was able to help him with his legal issue, but I also asked him if he wanted any help with the issues he was facing due to being homeless. He refused this help, however. He was thankful for the little help he had and wanted us to help other needy individuals with their issues. He felt he could manage on his own.


This really stuck out to me. Here was a guy who had nothing, but was willing to give anything to help others. He sacrificed his well-being in the quest to help his brother out and he refused additional help because there were others ‘who had it worse off than he did.’ This guy had a heart of gold and I will never forget him or his story.”

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TACO Tenders - May 27, 2019

This is a new weekly feature. Every Monday we will bring you a story At 3:30 PM. This is the same time that our Volunteer Coordinater in is meeting with our Monday meal volunteers. We hope you enjoy.

TACO Logo Inspiration

If you look down on the church patio where we serve meals each week, you will notice a cross lay in the floor. Each “arm” of the cross comes from a different location, they meet in the middle; one arm extends from the parking lot where the parishioners enter in, another arm reaches in from the church and TACO offices, another enters in from the sanctuary and the fourth joins in from the street. It is through our relationships – that we meet and see Jesus in the midst of us or in one another.  


The shape of an open drop of water envelops this. TACO’s mission is to be a place of healing. To receive healing, we often must move through our pain. Whether the cleansing is through tears, the Spirit, or recognizing grace in our baptism…we come into God’s healing presence. The drop remains open, as it is through growth and movement that we all become more whole and holy.


-Logo created by Nance Lovell, MSW 2010

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TACO Tenders - April 8, 2019

This is a new weekly feature. Every Monday we will bring you a story At 3:30 PM. This is the same time that our Volunteer Coordinater in is meeting with our Monday meal volunteers. We hope you enjoy.

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Image of empty bowls for 2019 event

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TACO Tenders - April 1, 2019

This is a new weekly feature. Every Monday we will bring you a story At 3:30 PM. This is the same time that our Volunteer Coordinater in is meeting with our Monday meal volunteers. We hope you enjoy.

Igor Harris is with the Community Law Project, which is part of the TACO collaborative of services. He is from Russia, but moved with his family to Indiana when he was 11, where he got his education including his BA from Indiana University. Several road trips with friends out to San Diego convinced him that this is where he wanted to end up. He is now in his second year at Cal Western School of Law, and volunteers at the legal clinic on Monday nights.

Igor chose TACO as a place to be involved both because he wanted to learn and test his ability to communicate with a “difficult” population which does not have regular access to legal resources, but also because he wanted to give back to the community so near the law school. Since January he is seeing an average of 3 to 4 clients each Monday evening.

This experience “confirms my intent to become a lawyer”, he says. “it has reinforced my understanding that there are people with genuine needs that I can help”. Many clients feel hopeless in their circumstances. He enjoys giving them a listening ear, finding creative solutions, assuring them that they have rights and that there are resources available to them. This often bestows a sense of hope. Often issues that seem super simple to an attorney or to an average person seem insurmountable and too complex to the folks who come to the clinic. Because of the nature of this free clinic, the staff cannot actually represent clients, but can give advise and referrals, and can sometimes show a person that they do not need at attorney at all. Such was the case with a client who was seeking a divorce, and a person whose English was not very good who had an issue with the title on the car he was trying to sell. Igor was able to point them to the forms they needed to complete and places they needed to file them, all which they could then do without an attorney.

Igor believes this TACO model off various organizations and clinics intersecting and working together is a great example from which others can learn, and he uses many opportunities to “spread the word” of this experience.

Igor plans to continue to learn and grow from this work. He would like to end up practicing transactional law, like contracts and intellectual property.

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TACO Tenders - March 28, 2019

3 people on wooden stage, one man in blue graduation cap and gown holding diploma
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Before the Monday evening meal about a month ago, Loren called three of us over. As he smiled in his gentle, shy way, Loren showed us a transcript where he had earned his high school diploma online with a 3.4 GPA. He excitedly said that his next goal is the auto mechanics program at the Continuing Education Center. Now in his mid-50s, his life is back on track.


The research done by social scientists has learned these things (among many): after divorce, women and children often move into poverty; undiagnosed learning disabilities hamper students and create “discouraged learners” in elementary school; and caregiver stress creates economic hardship. For researchers, the people are “statistics”. For us at TACO, these are people…our guests and one of them is Loren.


Loren’s mother struggled as a single mother. When he had the opportunity to work the summer after his sophomore year in high school, he just never went back in the fall. Loren had never liked or done well in school. Life had its ups and downs, and, when his mother became ill, Loren became her caregiver. They first came to TACOabout 12 years ago when living downtown. His mother died six years ago, and Loren has been reclaiming his life ever since then. Loren is a regular at our meals and works with our social workers with MediCal and other services. After years, he is finally scheduled for back surgery to address the pain he has lived with for years.


I asked Loren how he got from discouragement to the place of hope where he is now. There is a couple who regularly visit with homeless folks downtown and give away books. Loren got started with Louis L’Amour westerns and expanded from there. At the public library, Loren connected with a tutor through San Diego Reads who saw Loren’s potential and encouraged him to work on his high school diploma. Loren still meets with his tutor three hours a week to work on his spelling. 

.Congratulations, Loren!


-Gloria Espeseth

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TACO Tenders - March 21, 2019

A black wheelchair with assorted belongings honoring memory of a deceased person
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Jason Richardson died on March 13 due to complications from a heart condition. He was in his late 40s. A memorial service was held for him on Sunday the 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, at the corner of third and C. This is a part of the downtown area where the trolley stops next to City Hall. In fact the service was held in the space between the station and the entrance to City Hall. About 15 to 18 of us gathered there, quite a collection of people, most individuals who had slept outside last night. In fact during the service one woman could be seen trying to fold up a tent that had seen better days. As we idled in a semicircle around Jason's belongings, I was struck by the sign on the wall of the City Hall building which told vagrants to stay away and told the San Diego Police Department that they should feel free to move along anyone within a radius of the sign. But it was Sunday morning and there didn't seem to be any police there to send us away.


I had known Jason on the street for around 10 years. He cut quite an identifiable profile as he traveled around the downtown area. He was approximately 6'5" tall which made him noticeable, also he kept a cat on a leash. So there were two distinct parts of his personality which shown themselves on a regular basis. But there people shared about his gentle nature, his rural upbringing, and how much they would miss him. As the service continued people would take an item of significance and drop it next to the candle and photo of Jason in Memorial.


There were a couple of preachers who spoke. They knew Jason from the Bible study they led at the Plaza Hotel, a residential hotel that is closing as we speak. One of them talked about Jason “going to a better place" indicating Heaven. The sadness of his friends around him certainly indicated that he was gone from their sight and that they would miss him a lot. However it was also true that he would finally be in the place where he did not need to roam every day, being urged onward by the city and told to find another place to go. Rest in peace Jason,welcomed into the arms of your Savior. 

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