Local couple seeks to improve lives of homeless through care packages


Julia Roseborough

Volunteers work to create homeless care packages throughout the morning.

As the homeless population soars in the Bay Area, one local couple is trying to combat both the stigma and the hardships that homeless people face in society today.

“The folks we see on the street are not special cases, and they’re not bad people. It’s not that they failed, it’s that society failed, that the structures that were supposed to support them failed,” said Brendan Deocariza-Nee, one of the event coordinators.

On Feb. 9, at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, Brendan Deocariza-Nee and his husband, Evan Deocariza-Nee, began the first-ever homeless care kit service opportunity at their church.

Items such as food, bandages, tissues, socks, water bottles, gloves, and sanitary wipes were prepared into homeless care kits. Twenty-one dedicated workers spent their Sunday morning helping to use these materials to create the maximum amount of care packages possible. With their care packages, they will help a person of their choosing by giving it to them sometime in the future.

Not only did this event provide an excellent service opportunity, but many eyes were opened by the Deocariza-Nees.

“It’s difficult to pass by our homeless neighbors on the street and not know what we can do for them. We see that kind of suffering, and we hope that these kits can help us do something for our neighbors in need,” Evan Deocariza-Nee said.

While these kits can’t help us solve the underlying problem of housing in the area, they can help us do something for our neighbors in need and give us the opportunity to interact with them through love.”

— Evan Deocariza-Nee

With intentions of helping their homeless neighbors, both Brendan and Evan Deocariza-Nee were inspired to make this idea a reality.

For Brendan Deocariza-Nee, a major driving force behind his desire to create this event was his own experiences growing up.

“I was kicked out of my house when I was 19, and I was homeless for a little while. Although I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, I’d always grown up comfortable, and I never had to worry about food and shelter. Suddenly, I saw how precarious some people’s lives are,” Brendan Deocariza-Nee said. “If you get kicked out, if you suffer an injury or have a sudden medical bill or lose your employment, then you could be perfectly fine one day and out on the street the next.”

When asked what people tend to do when they see a homeless person on the street, many shared different versions of a similar answer. Most of these answers revolved around one fact: people walk away, maybe stop to give a few dollars, but most will look the other way and continue about their lives.

“I hope this event helps us realize that these are people and allows us to have a connection and makes us more aware of the situations occurring for so many people,” said Abraham Sanchez, a friend of the coordinators and contributor to the creation of the event.

With the success of the events and positive contributors from all the attendees, the Deocariza-Nees hope their event creates a lasting impact, along with possible future similar events.

“I hope that people will be less afraid to engage individuals who are different from them and that the kits we are sending everyone away with will help be that bridge,” Brendan Deocariza-Nee said.”I hope that we will start tearing down the walls we create between each other, tearing down misconceptions or preconceptions that we have about people so that we slowly, in this very local way, start to make a more loving community that we can all live and see each other as neighbors.”