Mesa volunteer celebrates milestone with feeding homeless

A retired teacher volunteers at a Mesa nonprofit and has served 1 million meals to the homeless.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 5:28 PM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - It’s an issue spotlighted on Arizona’s Family, homelessness as seen in downtown Phoenix with an area called “The Zone” now slated for cleanup after a judge’s orders. One volunteer in Mesa is a retired first-grade teacher for the nonprofit “A New Leaf,” and she’s surpassed a million meals served to the homeless community. “Adds up pretty fast,” said Margaret Taylor, who’s been volunteering for more than a decade. She’s responsible for finding food throughout the community and planning meals for their shelters.

Judge Scott Blaney ruled the city is maintaining a “public nuisance” and city officials must show evidence at a July 10 hearing that they’re cleaning the area.

Taylor said she’s seen the rise of the homeless crisis first-hand, with a 23% increase in the past two years. “COVID has made a huge difference in the amount of people who lost their jobs,” said Taylor. “They’re people, we just can’t ignore them.” City leaders are trying to add more shelter beds in Phoenix. New numbers show almost all of their beds are filled up. “There can be a waitlist for shelter, especially for families. It can be a wait list up to eight weeks long,” said Laura Bode, director of community engagement for A New Leaf. Meanwhile, Taylor is focusing on what she can control. “To get these many men back on their feet, to find jobs, apartments and be a worth while benefit to society,” said Taylor. “It gives me worth as well as giving back to them.”

The 85-year-old said she’s not slowing down anytime soon. Maybe she’ll find a million more meals to help this growing homeless crisis. “Well, I’m not dead yet,” said Taylor. If you would like A New Leaf, click here.