December 2nd, a chilly Saturday morning, blossomed into a beautiful, late autumn day, with blue skies and mild temperatures. It was a perfect day for families in the low desert communities of the Coachella Valley to gather at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mecca, CA and reap the benefits of a day of outreach services.  Sponsored by the Department of Life, Dignity & Justice for the Diocese of San Bernardino, Mecca was chosen as the site for much needed community services due to the affects of Tropical Storm Hilary which impacted the area earlier this year. Faith-based organizations came together to provide support and assistance to those in need, providing food, clothing, and medical assistance.

In total 18 agencies were present that day. A variety of health services such as vaccinations, glucose and blood pressure readings, medical, dental and vision screenings were provided.
The San Bernardino Area Order of Malta, including Auxiliary Members, friends and volunteers were assisted by LA Location Mobile Ministries and Catholic Daughters of Court St. Anne. Hygiene kits for families along with backpacks, coloring books, drawing material and markers for the children were provided. Transforming a Life, a non-profit charity gave away jackets, t-shirts and shoes.

"The Order is grateful to work with the Diocese of San Bernardino to demonstrate love, compassion, and service to those around us." - Melody Paulsen, San Bernardino Area Convenor

The atmosphere was festive, with a live DJ playing a variety of music and upbeat tunes. The members of various Councils of the Knights of Columbus cooked delicious street tacos and provided refreshments for everyone. A newlywed couple emerged from the church and was invited to join the group for lunch. In total, members and volunteers with the Order of Malta distributed hygiene kits and clothing to about 300 people. As Christmas approached, the Order of Malta aimed to provide hope to a financially impacted community through works of charity.

The day proved so successful, Sr. Mary Chilee Okoko, Department Head of Life, Dignity and Justice has begun plans for two more days of outreach service to areas to be identified in 2024. "The Order is grateful to work with the Diocese of San Bernardino to demonstrate love, compassion, and service to those around us,” and looks forward to these upcoming days in service to our diocesan community.

"... our profound gratitude to you all for your contribution, support and participation at the Life, Dignity and Justice Community Services Outreach in Mecca on December 2, 2023. Your assistance and support meant a lot to us. We thank you again and pray our merciful and generous God to reward your kindness and generosity with peace, hope, love and good health of body and spirit. We sincerely hope you will be open to working with us again next year when we go to the High Desert area." - Sister Mary Chilee Okoko

Click HERE to read a local news article about the event.