At Father Joe’s Villages, we’ve seen lives transformed, hope renewed and dignity restored. Read the real stories of the people we’ve served.
How to Become an Ally

How to Become an Ally

Since 1950, Father Joe’s Villages has been dedicated to helping those living on the streets find their way home. Through our decades of experience serving people struggling with homelessness, we have developed a model of care that respects human dignity and restores essential life skills so people in need can lead productive lives off the streets.

Essentially, at Father Joe’s Villages, we do not witness the suffering of others without moving to ACT.

What is ACT?

Father Joe’s Villages’ commitment to ACT means:

  • Advocating for those who are less fortunate by urging effective change to secure a better future for San Diego’s most vulnerable population.

  • Providing Compassionate Care to struggling neighbors such as accessible shelter and housing, critical health care and nutritious meals.

  • Striving for a Transition to Home for unsheltered individuals by working with them to find and maintain affordable housing solutions.

Father Joe’s Villages’ pledge to ACT on account of those most vulnerable began with Father Joe Carroll, and his legacy continues to grow. In just the last 10 years, Father Joe’s Villages has served more than 60,000 people struggling with homelessness. Through our tailored services and compassionate programs, we help people in need overcome any obstacle on their journey to housing and employment.

However, we cannot end homelessness alone; it takes the support of every San Diegan to contribute to helping our neighbors off the street.

How can YOU enact positive change for people struggling with homelessness? YOU can help Father Joe’s Villages in our mission by becoming an Ally.

An Ally is someone who supports and empowers vulnerable populations within a community. By becoming an Ally, YOU can ACT for those in need and give a voice for neighbors experiencing homelessness.

How to Be an Ally

Engage in a Conversation

  • Share information regarding homelessness with friends and family 

    People experiencing homelessness are often disregarded by society. Due to this, our neighbors experiencing homelessness  can feel alone and invisible.

    There are people in our neighborhoods who are struggling, who are hungry, who have no home to call their own—and they deserve help.

    Being an Ally means using your voice to advocate for underprivileged people in our community. By engaging your friends and family in a dialogue around homelessness, you shed a light on an issue that may otherwise remain overlooked.

  •  Dispel stereotypes and stigma about people who are homeless

    Many people believe that homelessness is experienced by single men—not women or families. Additionally, they consider hard luck and addiction to be the only probable causes of homelessness—the barriers of health, mental illness, job skills, housing affordability, and more are not often considered.

    In fact, there are many faces of homelessness– from people overcoming substance-use disorder and those living with mental illness to veterans struggling to readjust to civilian life and families who can’t make ends meet. Eliminating stereotypes associated with homelessness helps to humanize homeless individuals and promotes effective change through empathy.                                  
  • Change how you refer to those experiencing homelessness

    It’s important to attempt to destigmatize people experiencing homelessness in our everyday conversations. At Father Joe’s Villages, we don’t use the phrase “the homeless.” We refer to homelessness on an individual level, humanizing and personalizing the phrase.

    Read our blog, Why We Don’t Use the Terms “the Homeless” or “Homeless People,” to learn more on how you can adjust the language you use when referring to people living on the streets or in shelters.

Advocate for affordable housing and services in your community

Become an ally by learning about and supporting initiatives that will end homelessness. From affordable housing to additional funding for homeless services providers, there are many steps that the local, state, and federal governments can take to reduce and even prevent homelessness.

Let your elected officials know that San Diego needs diverse capacity-building solutions — from basic needs services that provide sustenance and survival to more shelter beds that move people off the streets to long-term housing with affordable rents. Speak out in neighborhood meetings, talk to your community, and write and call your local leaders. It’s our job to advocate every day for each building block to bring us closer to ending homelessness in San Diego and to state definitively through our actions that each human life is worthy of compassion, respect, empowerment, empathy and dignity.

Follow and Share on Social Media

Homelessness is an ever-evolving problem. That’s why it’s important to keep up with what Father Joe’s Villages is doing to help on social media. You’ll get the latest news on homelessness, our services, volunteer opportunities, events, retail promotions, voting initiatives, and more. Share our information to your social media feeds to spread the word on ending homelessness.

You can follow us on:

Together, we can ACT

By becoming an Ally for neighbors experiencing homelessness, you can make a difference in the lives of people who need it most.

As Father Joe himself stated:

“Father Joe’s Villages has always been about ‘neighbors helping neighbors.’ This is a place where people from all walks of life come together as equals to change peoples’ lives.”

At Father Joe’s Villages, we know from decades of experience that given the right support our homeless neighbors can thrive. With your help, we will continue to provide compassionate and empowering programs that restore dignity, renew hope and change people’s lives. 

Together, we can ACT to successfully end homelessness and ensure a brighter future for all of San Diego.

Honoring our Volunteers this National Volunteer Appreciation Week

Honoring our Volunteers this National Volunteer Appreciation Week

At Father Joe’s Villages, we could not succeed in our mission to prevent and end homelessness without the help of compassionate, hard-working volunteers.

In 2020, Father Joe’s Villages helped nearly 12,000 San Diegans struggling with homelessness, providing warm meals, showers and short-term shelter in the process. This work is only possible because of the over 10,000 dedicated volunteers that give their time each year to help Father Joe’s Villages serve San Diegans who are homeless. In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we’ve highlighted some of our all-star volunteers who help make Father Joe’s Villages’ mission possible.


Rodney has been volunteering with Father Joe’s Villages for 7 years. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Rodney continued to show up every Thursday morning to prepare and serve breakfast for hungry neighbors in need. Rodney believes in the importance of lifting up those most vulnerable in the community.

Everybody at some point in their life will need help,” he says. “We should all ‘Pay-It-Forward.’”




After seeing a need to help those struggling in the community, Lina began volunteering in Father Joe’s Villages’ Sunday brunch program with Congregation Beth Israel. That was 7 years ago, and since her retirement in 2020, Lina has been dedicated to volunteering with us 6 days a week! She currently serves lunch through the Franklin Antonio Public Lunch program and assists with food distribution at Father Joe’s Villages’ Super Food Pantry.

“Volunteering is so important to help make your community a better place,” Lina says.



Victor began his journey with Father Joe’s Villages volunteering in the Chaplaincy program. He currently helps at the San Diego Day Center where he distributes mail, hygiene packages, blankets, and more to those living on the streets of our community.

“My favorite part about volunteering is seeing the expression on a neighbor’s face when I give them what they desperately need to make it through another day,” Victor says.




A senior at Serra High School, Sara is one of Father Joe’s Villages’ youngest volunteers. Since September, Sara has volunteered twice a week for the Food Services program serving breakfast to people struggling with poverty and homelessness.

“There are too many people living on the streets of downtown San Diego that live in constant hunger,” Sara says. “Spending a few hours volunteering at Father Joe’s Villages is helping hundreds of people.”




As a Cycling enthusiast, Carlos understands the importance of staying active. After hearing of the need for volunteers to assist with Father Joe’s Villages’ Health & Wellness Cycling Club, Carlos jumped at the chance to give back. Since then, Carlos has led an hour-long bike ride on Monday mornings with residents staying in Father Joe’s Villages’ Shelter program.

The ride offers residents a healthy escape from the reality of homelessness while also building a sense of community. Not only does the Cycling Club promote good health, but Carlos and his fellow volunteers teach those in need how to build and repair bicycles— a skill they can then use to find a job.

“Throughout life sometimes, there are difficulties. Cycling helps take those in need away from that for a while,” Carlos says. “It feels really rewarding helping someone who is struggling.”

Thank You Volunteers!

To all of our thousands of selfless volunteers: Thank you for your dedication to those we serve at Father Joe’s Villages. Your devotion to helping our community’s neighbors in need provides hope for a better future. Together, we can end homelessness in San Diego.

Looking to make an impact and help those in San Diego who need it most? Learn more about how you can help support those in need by volunteering at Father Joe’s Villages.

Women’s Experiences Honored in International Women’s Day Event

Women’s Experiences Honored in International Women’s Day Event

In partnership with the San Diego Housing Commission and the City of San Diego, Father Joe’s Villages is actively working to end homelessness in San Diego by providing 28 women a safe place to stay in the Bishop Maher Interim Shelter. Women staying at the shelter receive support and access to comprehensive wraparound services to help them get back on their feet and become self-sufficient. In total, Father Joe’s Villages served over 3,500 women through our programs in 2020.

In honor of International Women’s Day, three local women living at Father Joe’s Villages’ Bishop Maher Interim Shelter shared their experiences of what it’s like to be a woman and live on the streets of San Diego.

Andrea, Josephine and Michelle spoke with Mayor Todd Gloria, President & CEO Deacon Jim Vargas, and Chief Program Officer Ruth Bruland, sharing stories of adversity, hope and resilience to shed light on the reality of women struggling with homelessness in the community.


Andrea described being beaten, stabbed and shot at during her twelve years of homelessness. Her time living on the streets still haunts her and she continues to struggle with trusting other people. However, since moving to the Bishop Maher Interim Shelter, Andrea is finally feeling hopeful for the future.

“This is a good place for a fresh start,” she says, her sweet, quiet nature a testament to her resilience through even the most difficult of circumstances. “I just want to be a normal citizen. I’d like a place to see my kids instead of them seeing me on a piece of cardboard.”

With assistance from the wraparound services she receives at the Bishop Maher Interim Shelter, Andrea is now on the path toward gaining permanent housing. Once she is safe and settled in a home of her own, Andrea is looking forward to building an even closer relationship with her kids.

“This is why I’m here: to help my children have a mother,” she says.


Life on the streets eventually drove Josephine to addiction.

“Being out there in the dark is so scary. There is nothing worse,” Josephine says. “That fear kicks in and you look to numb yourself.”

 Although she has several daughters who tried their best to help her, Josephine’s life became driven by her addiction. Finally, the fear and seriousness of COVID-19 convinced Josephine that it was time to move off the streets and focus on her health and sobriety. The Homeless Outreach Team found her shelter and security at the San Diego Convention Center before she was able to move into the Bishop Maher Interim Shelter.

At first apprehensive about her move to the Bishop Maher Interim Shelter, Josephine is now thrilled she went forward with the transition. She enjoys the close proximity to case management, and is excited for the opportunity to utilize all the resources Father Joe’s Villages offers.

Now two years sober and on her way to moving into a home of her own, Josephine speaks with a self-awareness that radiates an internal resilience.

“This is a new chapter for me, and my journey isn’t over yet,” she says. She is trying to motivate other homeless individuals who are scared of moving between shelters.

I believe that a lot of them that are homeless and out there, they don’t see a future. There’s hope here. There’s a miracle here, I believe.”


With her blithe and sociable character, Michelle has the gift of lighting up any room. Her contagious smile, however, veils the pain of a tumultuous childhood wrought with abuse.

In response to the trauma she experienced, Michelle spent her adulthood living on the streets and in shelters where she struggled through alcoholism and multiple abusive relationships. After eleven years of addiction and homelessness, Michelle desperately wanted to repair her relationship with her oldest daughter. Hoping to find resources to turn her life around, she entered the shelter at the San Diego Convention Center. After a month, she moved to the Bishop Maher Interim Shelter and finally found the stability she needed to focus on recovery and permanent housing.

“This is the best place in the world,” she says about the Bishop Maher Interim Shelter. “For me, it was a lifesaver. Everything here has been so good for me.”

Thanks to the support she has received from Father Joe’s Villages’ staff, Michelle now feels empowered and is optimistic for her future. She plans to complete the Property Management Program offered through Father Joe’s Villages, and she hopes to one day work at Father Joe’s Villages herself.

Michelle has rebuilt a strong relationship with her daughters— one of whom attended the International Women’s Day event to watch her mother speak about her successful journey out of homelessness.

“When I came to the shelter, the staff started talking about a future,” Michelle says, “For the first time, I started seeing a future for myself — for Michelle. I feel like there’s a god walking beside me. I have no fear anymore.”


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How to Become an Ally

Since 1950, Father Joe’s Villages has been dedicated to helping those living on the streets find their way home. Through our decades of experience serving people struggling with homelessness, we have developed a model of care that respects human dignity and restores...

read more
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