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Delia Javier, 72; Ran 'Mama D's' Soup Kitchen for L.A. Homeless

November 14, 2005|From a Times Staff Writer

Delia Saguin Javier, who as "Mama D" befriended and fed countless homeless people in downtown Los Angeles for nearly 20 years, has died. She was 72.

Javier died Thursday of cancer at her home in Los Angeles, said V.V. Hsu, a volunteer who aided Javier's weekly effort. Hsu said Javier continued to participate until two months ago when she became too ill.

Since 1987, Javier had ladled out vegetable and pasta soup every Sunday to about 500 people near 5th and San Pedro streets in the heart of downtown's skid row.

Her generosity cost about $10,000 annually, funded by a few donations and her own money from jobs as a masseuse, motion picture set decorator and bit-part actress. She first saw the need for providing free food when she was working on a film in Los Angeles.

Javier saw the same disparity between rich and poor that she had witnessed in the Philippines growing up in a prosperous farm family. Javier studied dance and traveled the world with a Filipino dance troupe, but she also offered help to those less fortunate than her wherever she lived.

Asked by Hollywood co-workers why she bothered "feeding these hopeless people," she responded, "There's no such thing as hopeless."

Hsu, who said the feeding program would continue, told The Times that Javier "brought so much hope to the homeless. Her work is so important, and I hope more people will do what she did."

Javier shopped for ingredients at cut-rate stores and depended on volunteers with cars to transport her and her soup-filled Army surplus pots to skid row.

Her volunteer effort so impressed independent filmmaker Dan Lund that he made a documentary about her called "Mama D."

Javier's work in films included "Apocalypse Now," "Plain Clothes," "Angie" and "Valley Girl." She was sometimes credited as Marya Delia Javier.

She is survived by her daughter, Vivette Catipon, and two grandchildren.

Memorial donations for Mama D's Feed the Homeless project can be sent c/o Nina Kruse, 427 N. Spaulding Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036.

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