Nearly two years after its pandemic-induced founding, Adam’s Angels continues to serve those in need in a multitude of ways. The effort began right after lockdown, when Realtor Adam McKaig posted an offer on Facebook to shop for elderly people in need. When requests for assistance, as well as offers to help, poured in, McKaig quickly formed an amazing group of volunteers, whose members shopped from Goleta to Oxnard to fill requests.
The demographic served quickly grew beyond the elderly to the unsheltered, low-income residents, and others in need. The group continues in full force today with 75 core volunteers and about 300 more occasional ones. It just grew organically, according to McKaig, without any promotion — the community just came together. The group has no religious affiliation, but leaders from many faiths are among the core volunteers.
McKaig, raised in Santa Barbara with an ethos to serve others, kept learning of more needs, and he and his Angels jumped in to serve. The Foodbank of S.B. County needed volunteers to make home deliveries — the Angels signed up. One day, Congregation B’nai B’rith asked McKaig to deliver clothes to a woman on the S.B. County Courthouse steps, and, in searching for the woman, McKaig discovered many others sleeping under eaves and between bushes. With the pandemic causing entities serving the unsheltered to pull back, McKaig related, he saw a tremendous need to serve these individuals, many of whom did not understand the pandemic and its implications.
He rallied volunteers to get clothes and blankets, which he and his Angels distributed in Alameda Park and Pershing Park along with new sleeping bags, masks, sanitizer, and tips on staying safe. For the first year, McKaig brought stacks of Costco pizzas to Alameda Park each week, and volunteers often brought other hot foods. A weekly event at both parks continues, where other nonprofits offer various forms of assistance as well.
Upon going into lockdown, providing nonperishable food to the unsheltered was another key component of Adam’s Angels’ work. Doctors Without Walls S.B. Street Medicine Executive Director Maggie Sanchez saw a huge need early on, as restaurant closures cut off a main source of sustenance for the unsheltered. She, along with Maureen Ellenberger, quickly mobilized to provide packets of nonperishable food, which they distributed in the parks. This turned into a county-funded operation through the end of 2020, with Sanchez and Ellenberger leading a group, which came to include Adam’s Angels volunteers, in assembling and distributing 300 packets each week.
In May 2021, Adam’s Angels took over the operation, assembling at least 300 packets each week for distribution at seven locations. McKaig likens the weekly assembly operation to the I Love Lucy chocolate factory episode, explaining that the packets do get done and everyone has fun in the process. Most food is purchased from Costco and other places, as the Foodbank has very limited food that is conducive to unsheltered people — ready-to-eat, including not requiring a can opener, and not perishable.
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The selfless McKaig admitted to funding much of the operation out of his own pocket to start, and he continues to be a major funder. His passion to serve, generosity, and amiability have inspired others to give cash and in kind. For storage needs, EOS Lounge donated its space in the early days, volunteer Crystal Iverson donated a new trailer, and Goleta Valley Self Storage donated a storage unit for a year. For the past year, Teddi and Reggie Drew have donated the use of a building where volunteers, including the Drew family, assemble the nonperishable food packets each week.
Volunteer Michael Miller plays a key role as director of operations, handling both donations and distributions. Volunteer Tom Spadero gifted the use of his nonprofit, Genuine Concern for Others, as fiscal sponsor so Adam’s Angels can accept tax-deductible donations pending its own 501(c)(3) certification. Alan Parsons and Bobby Montanes provided entertainment at this year’s Thanksgiving event. Nobody, including McKaig, receives compensation.
McKaig’s compassion and eagerness to help has led to other types of assistance — he and his Angels have built sheds, fixed roofs and cars, paid for bus tickets, furnished an apartment for a previously unsheltered woman, and much more.
For Thanksgiving 2020, Adam’s Angels served 500 meals to go at the Unitarian Church, and in 2021, in collaboration with S.B. Agriculture and Farm Education Foundation (SBAFE) and the County of S.B., Adams Angels served a sit-down Thanksgiving meal and a to-go Christmas meal at the Veterans’ Memorial Building.
The Christmas event served about 330 meals onsite, and more were delivered. On site, the Angels distributed sleeping bags and packets of nonperishable food, volunteer DJ Joseph Souza spun Christmas tunes, a homeless man played guitar, and volunteer Father Larry Gosselin sang from the heart.
Adam’s Angels was awarded the Realtor® Community Service Award by the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors in December. McKaig is excited to see the organization evolve as he and his Angels continue to serve. It’s amazing, he relates, that just when Adam’s Angels is about to run out of money, someone makes a donation, which, along with his own ongoing contributions, enables the good work to continue. To make a donation, volunteer, or request assistance, go to https://adamsangels.life.
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