You Are Special (YAS) traces its roots to 2002 when a small group of concerned Orange residents began gathering food, often from their own pantries, and distributing it to homeless individuals living on the streets. The mission of YAS is to alleviate hunger in the City of Orange and nearby communities by operating a food pantry and by providing other emergency services, such as hotel vouchers, clothing, and gas cards to people in need.
In California, poverty is a sweeping epidemic. The 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research estimates that 30.5% of Orange County residents survive on income that is between 0% and 199% of the federal poverty line, representing approximately 920,000 residents of Orange County who are in desperate need. YAS, while initially founded by members of the Covenant Life Church, YAS was incorporated in 2009 and is a separate 501(c)(3) organization with an independent five-member board of directors.
You Are Special provides food to anyone who asks regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, cultural background, physical ability/disability or sexual preference. Moreover, our services are provided in a respectful, dignified, and cheerful manner with the message of love and grace from God. Operating out of the Covenant Life Church, YAS grew from our Christian belief and fashioned from scripture, such as Mathew 25:35: For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in. Executive Director, Michelle Hensley, a licensed biblical counselor, offers more than just food. She and the other volunteers listen to the stories of the people they serve with love and respect offering hope and exemplify the teachings of Jesus Christ .