Meals of Substance

April 2022 View more

Mirella Acevedo finds joy in her faith and makes a point to pass it on to others. For nearly a year and a half, Acevedo, better known as Holla Pala, or HP, has taken it upon herself to feed Aurora’s homeless. In addition to serving delicious homemade meals, her nonjudgmental presence has given those in need a sense of stability and hope.

Acevedo’s organization, HP24 and More Ministries, is based on the biblical passage Deuteronomy 15:11 which states, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” The verse came to her as she was working from home during the pandemic in January 2021. The calling was so strong she immediately set to work. After all, she loved cooking and serving others.

As she tried to decide where she could help out, she saw a Facebook post that the City of Aurora was going to be opening up its warming centers. “I knew this was my opportunity,” she explains. Leveraging her Bible-based social media ministry followers, she reached out for support and collected $5,545 in just 18 days.

HP and her team of 25 volunteers, whom she calls “the mores,” serve dinner everyday to those in need. “I’m Mexican, so I like to cook a lot of Mexican food,” she explains. “Today we’re serving baked chicken with garlic, lemon green beans, and rice pilaf, with homemade rolls.” The group also provides drinks and homemade baked goods and leaves behind chips, cookies, and snack bars. Often she collects and distributes towels, toiletries, and other necessities.

When the warming centers aren’t open, HP and her team seek out the homeless under bridges and at the library. “We’ve had the opportunity to talk to them and find out where they normally hang out,” she explains. “We don’t ask questions. We just feed and help them with what we can.”

In January of this year, HP24 and More Ministries received the Mayor’s Award of Excellence for going above and beyond to serve the people of Aurora. Despite the accolades, Acevedo remains humble and points out that none of this would be possible without her volunteers, her partnerships with Challenge II Change and the City of Aurora, and, above all, her faith. “Going out every day gets draining, don’t get me wrong, but something about me doesn’t want to miss out. It gives me so much pleasure. It’s such a privilege to serve my community.”

As a newer ministry, HP24 is working to create a website and attain nonprofit status. In the meantime, the organization can be reached on its Facebook page by searching for “HP24 and More Ministries.”

Photos courtesy HP24 and more ministries