Two Humboldt women form nonprofit to serve the unhoused community 

Left, Jaime Doyle with Jan Carr, the co-directors of Humboldt Soup's On in Valley West, Arcata. | Photo by Karina Ramos Villalobos

A Facebook post brought together two women who not only became friends but saw a need in the unhoused community that they could serve in Valley West, Arcata. It started by taking care of wild cats.

“I’ve been involved in animal rescue for years–and part of that is I’m a spay-neuter advocate–I have them spayed or neutered and return [them to their owners] to keep the populations down,” Jan Carr said.

Jaime Doyle saw Carr’s post on Facebook and offered to help. 

“We were out here in Valley West feeding a feral cat colony,” Doyle said. “I agreed to help Jan, and we started getting to know these folks and noticing that they were eating out of dumpsters and feeding cats. We thought, what can we do?”

They both thought other organizations were helping the unhoused population, but realized there were some gaps when it came to food. So they created Humboldt Soup’s On. They both serve as co-directors of this growing effort to help the unhoused, cats and dogs.  

“The first night, it was mid-November [Doyle] and her sister came out with a little pot of soup and people gathered around and I started talking with them about their dogs and how I could offer veterinary care, no cost,” Carr said. “And it worked, it was miraculous. It was so fun. We thought, okay, we’ll do this every Sunday. Then pretty soon we thought, well, let’s try a Wednesday. Pretty soon it was how about four days a week?”

Every day they serve dinner to about 60 people. Doyle has experience in cooking for large groups, she cooks the World Kitchen Way, which is a model created by chefs who do similar work in underserved communities around the world.

Humboldt Soup’s On works with teams of cooks and bakers. For the soup, they cook it in a 32-quart-sized pot. Their daily serving includes homemade soup, bread and desserts. It takes 1-2 days to prepare. During distribution, it takes them about one hour to feed everyone.

“There are approximately 100 [people] out here in Valley West,” Doyle said. “So it’s a large group and they have a culture and they’re family to each other. We’ve developed relationships with these people. We know them by name. We’re learning their shoe sizes and clothing sizes because we can also network for those kinds of things.”

Their long-term goal is to get a soup truck. Humboldt Soup’s On is working to become a non-profit organization to continue feeding unhoused communities and giving care to dogs and cats. If interested in volunteering with the group or sharing resources, you can find them on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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