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Where Needy and Benefactors Intersect

January 16, 1998|JOHN CANALIS

Some folks around here have taken to calling Reagan Street "Love Street" or "Charity Row."

A short block between Katella Avenue and Florista Street houses three charities and a church. When Los Alamitos residents volunteer or make charitable contributions, their time or dollars often are spent there.

"We're very different than what we see in other parts of the county," said Marty Thompson, director of We Care, which since 1989 has provided food, money and services to needy families. "We're very community-based. It's what you'd find in the Midwest, not what typifies Southern California."

The stretch begins at Katella with St. Isidore Catholic Church, which gives Mass only in Spanish and houses a government food bank. We Care is on the same property and works with about 10 area churches.

Up the street are the dozen beds at Casa Youth Shelter, a short-term crisis center that lets children 12 to 17 stay for two weeks. The center started in 1978 in a converted single-story home because "there were kids that didn't have a place to go," said Kathryn Young, a member of the board of directors.

Also on the block is the Precious Life shelter, a place for pregnant women and new mothers and their babies. The center requires that residents work, go to school and live drug-free.

"This is a really good program," said Connie Godoy, 30, who stays at the shelter with 3-week-old Elizabeth. "I needed to go someplace I could feel comfortable and secure to raise my baby."

In the beginning, charities probably were drawn to Reagan Street because of the Catholic church and the services it provided, Thompson said. St. Isidore's opened in the late 1920s.

Still, the lineup of services on Reagan seems to be coincidental.

"I don't believe it was intentional, I just believe it's something that happened," said City Councilwoman Marilynn M. Poe, who frequently uses the term "Love Street."

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