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Coreena Moss Has Lung Ailment : Feeder of L.A. Homeless Hospitalized

February 07, 1985|VIRGINIA ESCALANTE | Times Staff Writer

LONG BEACH — Coreena Moss, the good Samaritan whose feeding of the homeless in the Los Angeles Skid Row area was profiled in the Southeast/Long Beach sections of The Times last week, has been hospitalized with a lung ailment.

Moss collapsed at her Long Beach home late last Thursday while preparing food to take to jobless people living in the streets of downtown Los Angeles, a task she began doing on a regular basis in November.

Dr. Curtis Li at Memorial Medical Center of Long Beach said Tuesday that Moss' health problems stemmed from pulmonary hypertension, an ailment in which high pressure on the lungs causes them to stiffen. In addition, the arteries harden, affecting the heart and making breathing difficult. Li said that Moss is in fair condition and undergoing tests to determine the cause of the ailment.

Plans to Continue

Despite her illness, Moss plans to continue her work after she recuperates. "I'm going to keep on doing it. I'm not going to stop," Moss said from her hospital bed Monday. "I'm no quitter.

"That's the only time I feel I'm alive--when I'm out there with those people."

Before collapsing, Moss, who also suffers from diabetes, followed a rigorous schedule of feeding people during the night and then cooking until the next morning.

The evening she collapsed, Moss was planning to make the trip to Skid Row when "I felt like I had thousands of pains in my chest," she said. "I guess I did too much. When I go back, I'll just make sure I get my rest."

In response to the story that ran Jan. 31, 10 people called The Times to find out how they could reach Moss with contributions of food, clothing and money.

Moss, who is unemployed, has been feeding the homeless at least four or five times a week, also providing clothing and blankets whenever she can.

Sells Belongings

Although she has been helped by a few volunteers, Moss has paid for the food mostly with money raised from selling her personal belongings. In December, she sold her car so that she could provide Christmas dinners for the street people.

Last week, Moss, who feared that she would run out of food, was reassured after receiving the offers of money, clothing and food.

"I think it's great that people would care about other human beings," Moss said.

Her own kindness is rooted in her suffering as a child, when she went hungry and was taken away from unfit parents and placed in foster homes.

Although Moss is in the hospital, friends who helped her serve meals and distribute clothing at a parking lot on Fourth and Los Angeles streets are continuing her program of help to the homeless. Some of the homeless are also helping by serving the meals now.

Moss, however, still worries about their hunger and had been planning a march to bring attention to the problem before she became ill.

"I wanted the mayor (of Los Angeles) and the government to see them. I wanted the people to carry signs saying, 'We don't want to be hungry. We want jobs.' This cannot go on forever," she said.

Despite her determination to return to her work, Moss, who said she is in her "late thirties," fears she may die.

"A doctor just scared me a little while ago," she said. "He said that if they can't relieve the pressure on my heart and lungs, it could be fatal."

But she draws strength from her religious faith.

"I just don't think the Lord would let me die with the kind of work I'm doing."

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