Filling in The Gaps

Paloma Douglas has always spent her time caring for kids, now she has extended a hand to the vulnerable homeless population in Santa Ana.

By : Jessica Bustos

Photo Courtesy of: Lauren Solorio

SANTA ANA - “My friends and I were inspired to help the community when [COVID-19] started restricting opportunities and resources available for the homeless,” said Paloma Douglas, a 24-year-old child care worker from Irvine, Calif.

“We wanted to take matters into our own hands,” she said.

Jared Baar, who oversees the after school program where Douglas is employed, started noticing the large bags of food she would have when she asked to be excused a few minutes early every Monday.

“Paloma never felt the need to make it public knowledge that she was devoting her time to help those in need,” said Baar.

“In the age of social media, where every account has a humble brag about the one good deed they had some hand in, Paloma managed to stay incognito.”

Douglas grew up constantly caring for others, she often helped out in her mother’s home daycare and little has changed since then.

Today, she dedicates her spare time filling in the gaps that COVID-19 left within the homeless community in Santa Ana.

Every Monday, Douglas has managed to gather a consistent group of volunteers who have acquired resources, food, clothing, blankets and even hygienic products for those in need.

“There aren’t many people who are thinking about the homeless, especially during a pandemic,” said her long time friend Megan Harms, 23.

For people who have relied on these already limited resources, like Gerardo Ibarra, 27, said that this was something unexpected.

“I see that she enjoys doing this,” he said.

“Going out of her way and taking time out of her day to do stuff for us makes me very appreciative.”

Douglas said that together, she and the volunteers have managed to build connections with this community and look forward to seeing them every week.

It is no surprise that she managed to assess a need, show compassion and since, has grown fond of them. She shows these virtues in her everyday job as well.

“Paloma identifies the children that need the most care and attention,” Baar said.

“The children that work directly with her know that she always has their best interest in mind. [She] develops meaningful relationships with our families [and] the parents of our children love and respect her because she provides a safe and nurturing environment for all of her students.”

While at work Douglas often uses her platform to motivate family involvement in community service projects.

Although everyone continues to encounter their own problems during this pandemic she reminds us the importance of giving back.

Harms who said, she admires her drive to help others, sees these virtues in her friendship as well.

“She’s good hearted, professional, smart, funny, driven, humble, and many more,” she said.

“You can never question her loyalty. She is the type of person that stays in your life for a really long time and I'm looking forward to that.”

Douglas shows her deep rooted loyalty in her lasting connections. She continues to commemorate her late highschool friend Cecilia Zamora who died in 2013.

This was a moment of change in which she grew a new appreciation for life and everyone in it, she said.

From that moment on she “wanted to make sure she could leave a positive impact on others.”

Douglas said she would like to grow the community outreach in Santa Ana.

“I hope that others will get inspired by what we do,” she said.