Join us on our Neighbors Helping Neighbors podcast to discuss our pillar of care, Meeting Basic Needs. We discuss our shelter services, affordable housing programs, and our extensive food services programs. Please subscribe and follow our mission of preventing and ending homelessness, one life at a time. Guests: Deacon Jim, President & CEO, and Jesse Casement Division Director of Client Services at Father Joe’s Villages..
Podcast Transcript - Meeting Basic Needs
Hello everyone, and welcome back.
I’m Maggie, your host of Neighbors Helping Neighbors, the podcast from Father Joe’s Villages.
This is a continuation in our series of podcasts exploring the issue of homelessness, its causes, and the solutions to the issue.
Guests will include leaders and experts in the space, as well as people with unique perspectives on homelessness.
If you’d like to learn more about our mission, visit firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on social media at Father Joe’s Villages.
Today, we have President and CEO Deacon Jim and Jesse Casement, Division Director of Client Services at Father Joe’s Villages, San Diego’s oldest and largest homeless service provider.
We have lots to get into today, so let’s get started at Father Joe’s Villages.
We have a four pillar model of care.
These are comprehensive solution based services that include investing in children, making health a priority, strengthening self-sufficiency, and meeting basic needs, which is what we’ll be talking about today.
Eating basic needs means food, shelter, showers, mail, things that you and I probably take for granted in our everyday lives while neighbors out there are really struggling to secure these things.
So we have Jesse and Deacon Jim here to explore this together and thank you so much for being here.
Thanks for having us.
To be here.
Let’s start by talking about what you do at Father Joe’s villages.
My name is Jesse Casement.
I’m the Division Director of Client Services at Father Joe’s.
I’ve been at FTV for 13 years now, going on 14 years.
And really my my team and I, our focus is to deliver the social services aspect of client based care.
So everything from outreach services and drop in care at our day center to our shelter and case management services.
We offer therapeutic childcare and employment services and then also the tenant services involved in helping people find and keep their housing OK, very far reaching.
It is far reaching and and that is 1 aspect of Father Joe’s villages and important obviously aspect because that’s the services and programs.
But yet in addition to that we’re so much more, we’re healthcare.
We have a federally qualified health.
And we’ll be talking about that actually in a future segment.
But basically that works with primary care, dental care, behavioral health, which is such an important aspect.
People are suffering from mental health challenges, those who are suffering from substance use disorder.
And so the the health team there meets people where they are on the streets as an example.
If they don’t come in the typical brick and mortar like you and I would for for for medical care.
So we we meet them where they are in order to help them in their circumstances so that they could really thrive.
And that’s what it’s all about.
It’s recognizing that people travel out of their states of their journey out of homelessness, I’d like to say at different stages, right in different paces.
So we want to make sure that we’re most effective and efficient, effective at the resources that we provide.
For those who we serve for the programs and also that we’re efficient with the dollars that are entrusted to us, right.
They’re philanthropic dollars.
They’re also public funds as well.
So we want to make sure that we really make a difference in the lives of these individuals as they journey out of their, out of their homelessness.
And hey, Jessie precedes me here by a few years.
She’s been here 13 years.
And and she’s great.
She’s at at what she does and I’ve been here almost nine years actually and this I like to think that this is ministry for me right.
I’m a I’m a Deacon of the Catholic Church as you know Maggie.
And and really this is not, it’s not that I’m.
President and CEO who happens to be a Deacon.
Really, I’m a Deacon and this is my ministry as President and CEO.
And so it’s my great blessing to be able to lead such a great team.
We have a team of 450 to 500 employees at any given time.
And then their respective disciplines.
Basically they’re experts at what they do and then how they deliver the services.
Well, I must say, we are lucky to have both of you.
I enjoy both of you individually and working with you.
So thank you again for being here.
What do you feel is your mission at Father Joe’s villages?
You know, definitely everything that I’m doing is working within our organizational mission, which is to prevent and end homelessness one life at a time.
But personally, I feel like my my journey and my role at Father Joe’s Villages is to lead teams who work every day to help our clients resume that role of expert in their own lives.
Homelessness and and everything that can contribute and lead up to that housing crisis can devastate a person and really break down their confidence and their own, you know, belief in themselves.
And so I feel like it is our obligation and our duty to help rebuild that person by empowering them and helping them really regain that trust in themselves so that they can meet their own goals to end their housing crisis.
I think, you know, picking up on what Jesse just said, which is so, so excellent, it’s really tapping into their potential.
One of my greatest delights is when I see an individual who first come in and they feel the dejected and they look dejected, right.
And they don’t make eye contact, right?
They hardly speak.
But then they go, let’s say, through our employment services and and vocational training and they’re able to, they, they have a certificate now, right?
Because maybe now they’re in culinary arts.
And they feel a sense of satisfaction.
They’re smiling, they’re looking at you right And and they’re thanking us and yet they’ve done the work right.
We provided the resources and tapped into their potential, instilled that hope or reinstalled that hope and they’ve done the work and then they go forward, right.
So that’s that’s that’s when you ask you know what’s our my mission as an example.
It is just that, right?
Making sure that we’re able to help people get on their feet and then move forward.
Yeah, that is why I do what I do.
That’s why we do.
What we do is, though, is to see them go from point A to point B.
That’s what makes it fun.
Makes a difference, yes.
I love that you brought up Hope you can Jim.
That’s really a word that we use a lot over in our office where where I work is really talking about bringing that hope back and.
You know, it’s not unusual to see someone come in and really spend their first week or so just sleeping and and resting after everything that they’ve been through on the street.
But one of our directors, our Director of Residential Services Dana, talks a lot about giving someone their name back and helping them to.
You know, really remember who they are and and not just part of a problem or someone who’s been walked by and ignored.
And it was homelessness does not define them.
And that’s the key, right.
That’s so very, very key.
I don’t even, I don’t like to use the term homeless individual, right, because that’s almost as it’s there the adjectives that almost defines them.
That’s not the case there.
There’s someone who happens to be homeless, right, because of circumstances, various circumstances.
So that’s that’s really key.
So it’s often getting connected with these shelter beds or these, these basic needs that are the point of entry for our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness.
What are the basic needs that Father Joe’s aims to provide to these individuals?
Want to take that?
One sure I can start.
So really that first interaction that we have with someone may not even be a shelter.
It could be the outreach team that is out and and interacting with people who are currently living on the streets.
It could be someone who has come to our front desk at our guest services in the Joan Kroc Center building.
Or it could be someone who has come to our day center, which is a drop in center that we operate seven days a week.
And really, while we want to make someone feel welcome and, you know, make all of our services available to them, that could be anything from laundry or getting a shower, plugging in their cellular device.
There’s not a lot of outlets you know, that, that someone can access if they don’t have a home.
And so we want to connect them to all of those basic services.
But a lot of the work that we’re doing while that is happening is to learn what resources are available to that individual.
So it’s called a diversion conversation.
That’s the first step before we ever start talking about shelter with someone is where else could you be?
We don’t want you to be homeless.
We don’t want you to be on the streets.
We also don’t want you in shelter if there’s somewhere else that you could be.
And so the diversion conversation really starts with.
Asking someone, when was the last time you did a favor for somebody else?
Do they owe you a favor?
You know, can we give them a call?
Is there somewhere that you could be?
Is it, you know, what’s contributing to your housing crisis right now?
Is it a small thing like, you know, paying off a parking ticket so that you can get your vehicle back or or something like that?
So the diversion conversation starts not with how do we get you into shelter, but how do we keep you away from shelter?
How do we keep you out of the system altogether?
Of course, if someone doesn’t have a safe place to be, then we are going to work to get them into shelter.
And so that conversation really involves learning what it is that they need in the shelter environment and then seeing what kind of resources are available to them.
For Father Joe’s villages shelter programs that we oversee the the wait list for.
Unfortunately there is a wait list for our programs.
Then it’s a matter of adding those folks on to our wait list and letting them know how to check back in and making sure that they’ve got the proper referrals and resource connections in the meantime, while they’re waiting for people who are best fit for the city funded shelter.
Then we make that referral to the San Diego Housing Commission, and the San Diego Housing Commission will determine which city funded shelter has a bed available right now to help that person get.
Into shelter that night if possible.
So back to basics.
Kind of walk me through it.
Someone finds them self experiencing homelessness.
What office do they visit?
What phone number do they call?
What steps would they take?
Yeah, there’s a lot of different ways that someone can get connected.
The the the idea in San Diego is no wrong front door.
And so we want someone to be able to walk into any service provider or interact with any outreach worker on the streets to get connected to the same resources.
So if someone comes across an outreach worker, then that’s fantastic if they need to.
If they want somewhere to go, like a storefront, if you will.
We operate San Diego Day Center, which is located on 17th St. so 17th and Imperial.
We’re open seven days a week, so we’re happy to connect with someone there.
Otherwise, someone can call 619-233-8500 and our information and referral team can help make connections and give them the right information that they need to get connected with services.
And that number it’s it’s 619 homeless right.
But it’s it’s as simple as it is.
It is actually and I say that only because a lot of times it’s hard to remember numbers right.
But it’s 619 homeless so it’s as it’s as easy as that right.
So yeah no that’s that’s but but there are various ways it’s a point and that that Jesse is making and and the shelters are varied as well.
I mean again, it’s not a one sided fits all.
And Jesse referenced city funded programs.
We have problems that are not funded by the city, right.
And so I want Jesse to get into a lot of those beginning and I say that because she’s excited about all the shelter beds and we have, we have about 1000 shelter beds by the way on any given night.
I mean so and they are they’re, they’re very different depending upon the circumstances whether it’s a family, we have a family living center, right and and we have our Our family employment program.
Empowerment program, excuse me, the family empowerment program, we have our what we call Saint Margaret of Crotona Harbor and I’m naming these, but I want Jesse to describe them because she she’s just passionate about each of these programs and rightly so.
And when the populations they serve and the good that they do right the 2nd to the successes that we have there.
So why don’t you tell us about the the Shelter program?
I would love to, so I’ll start with the city funded shelter we operate, Golden Hall.
Which is 324 beds for single adults or people who are most comfortable and safe living in a program that is designed for males.
So that’s 324 single adults living on the first floor of Golden Hall.
That’s a city funded program and someone can connect to that program through what we talked about before, which is getting connected to the housing Commission and the housing Commission making a placement into that program.
We also operate and own the building called Palmer Robley Center that is located on our campus at 15th and Imperial.
We have 350 beds for single adults.
You know, shelters are designed in a binary system, but we don’t serve just binary clients.
So we do have a floor with 80 beds for single women or people who identify as female.
And then we have a floor in that building for 270, sorry, 270 single men or people who identify as male.
Across the street we own and operate the Bishop Maher Center.
We’ve got two floors of shelter there also for single adults.
On the 4th floor we have 28 beds for a single women or people who identify as female.
That is also city funded shelter as is the Palmeraboli Center.
I’m not sure if I said that.
So again those connections are made through the housing Commission to come into those beds.
But on the 5th floor we have 38 beds for single adults who have a.
Long term medical condition, I don’t want to give away the identity and what that medical condition is for people living on that floor, but there’s a very specific way that someone can come into that program.
So in order to get into that program, the best contact would be to call 619 homeless.
I learned today 619 homeless and they can tell you all about how to get into that program.
But is it a very specific referral method to come into those beds that requires a medical diagnosis?
So that’s our Bishop Maher Center, our Paul Mirabile Center.
Those are both on our campus and then also Golden Hall where we get to be the most creative.
I would say it would be our Joan Croc Center, which is also located on our campus at 15th and Imperial.
We have two floors of shelter there.
So I’ll start with the third floor, which is where we have up to 28 beds for recuperative care.
These are people who are exiting a medical setting or maybe they need to prepare for a surgery.
We do have folks that come in because they need a place to stabilize before they can have a medical.
Those referrals are made through their insurance plan or maybe through a medical provider that they have.
We do also get referrals that come through for the recuperative care program that are done.
Maybe they’re living in another shelter environment and their case manager might call to refer them And then we have staff that connect to their, their plan, their medical provider who can approve or or unfortunately sometimes deny their and and taken to that program.
And so that’s up to 28 beds for that program.
We also on that third floor have the remainder of our beds for people with chronic health issues like we talked about before in the Bishop Maher Center.
So it’s a continuation over there.
So a total of 70 beds for people with chronic health issues and a specific diagnosis.
We move down to the second floor, that’s where our families are located.
So we definitely want to meet our clients where they are.
We know that families look all kinds of ways family could be that it is a custodial grandparent.
Living with their grandchildren.
It could be that we have a parent and their child and maybe an aunt in the family who is connected to the family.
So we want to serve the family however they appear to us.
But our requirement for the family program does involve that they have children living with them.
If they don’t have children living with them, then we’ll help connect them to a program for single adults.
Even though they’re not single and they are a family.
We want to make best use of our of our Joan Kroc Center, 2nd floor for people with children.
At the Joan Croc Center, we have 52 rooms, so it’s easier to talk about families in terms of rooms versus beds.
But we have 52 rooms. 24, yes, 24 of those rooms are what we call emergency shelter for families.
So these are rooms for families who are coming usually directly from the street or a doubled up situation.
Maybe they’ve been sleeping in their car.
They just don’t have anywhere to safely reside with their children anymore.
And that’s their first stop with us is in the Joan Crock Center, 2nd floor Emergency Shelter for Families program if families wish to stay with us.
And by that I mean engage in case management and really focus on exiting to housing with income.
Then they can elect to move into what’s called our Family Living Center that’s on the same floor.
They generally stay in the same room.
But we have 28 households that we serve in our Family Living Center.
This is where the numbers get a little jumbly.
And so tell me if I don’t make any sense, but we have 28 rooms in the Family Living Center.
Ten of those rooms are what’s called our Family Empowerment program.
And I’m really excited about that because it’s an idea that came from our staff that work with the clients, Deacon Jim and our leadership at Father Joe’s Villages, really.
Make an intention of supporting innovation that our staff have.
And so this was something that we kept hearing from our clients was that they wanted to step up.
All of our programs are low barrier programs.
We want to remove as much barrier as possible for folks to come into our shelter.
We don’t have want them to have a reason to say no or to hear no from us, but the the low barrier means.
Low barrier means.
That someone does not have to be on any kind of prescription medication to tend to mental health issues.
They don’t have to have an ID, they don’t have to pay any kind of program fees, and they don’t have to be clean or sober.
And so we believe in that, we believe in being low barrier.
We also accept pets and all of our shelter beds.
I just want to get that plug in there.
All 1048 shelter beds are pet friendly which is not common in in San Diego or or in shelter environments across the country.
But aside from that, low barrier definitely means just removing all of the reasons that someone may hear a no for eligibility.
But we were hearing from our families that they wanted a place to live around other families who were also clean and sober.
And so we wanted to build in a choice that’s really important.
Like Degan had mentioned before, our clients come to us with all kinds of backgrounds and so many diverse needs.
And sometimes that need is to live around people who are also clean and sober.
And so we created a space.
It’s a wing of our floor.
That is dedicated to families who have made the commitment to being clean or sober while in the program.
They’ve made the commitment to working with the case manager and they’re currently employed or enrolled in one of our job training programs.
So these families are really consider our role models for other families.
They’ve done, you know, extra classes and have really made a commitment to working towards exiting homelessness and exiting shelter.
And the goal is always for them to exit to unsubsidized housing, meaning that they won’t have any kind of, you know?
Housing voucher or anything helping them to pay for their housing because they have done what they need to to be able to exit on their own.
So out of our 28 family living center rooms we have 10 that are family empowerment program that’s our newest program.
It started last NN of 2022 and we’re coming up on a year and then we also have.
Ten families that we can serve in that space for our St.
Margaret of Cortona Harbor program, which we are just so lucky to be able to provide through generous donations.
And that particular program, like is dedicated towards serving young women who are currently pregnant or have recently had an infant.
And so that may not sound unusual to someone who’s listening.
They may say, well, what what makes that different than a family shelter bed?
But generally, like I said, family shelter beds are dedicated to people who already have children with them.
So in this situation, we can serve someone who is pregnant.
That allows her to stabilize, to not have to focus on survival and to be able to focus instead on prenatal care and make a plan for what she’s going to do up leading up to the birth of her child, but then also after she has her child.
And so we’re just really lucky to be able to provide flexible and creative programming like that.
And it’s, you know, you hear the client stories and the testament that that brings them to Father Joe’s villages.
And it’s really an honor and a privilege to get to do what we do.
It really is.
See, I was right.
Look how Jess is passionate about these programs and you know in the JKC, the Joan Croc Center, all those programs, they are philanthropically funded.
So and that’s very, very important because the generosity of people in the community and it’s and the same Margaret, Katona Harvey being one of those examples since we opened that program which wasn’t that long ago.
Nine babies have been born to those who have resided there within that program itself.
We are so excited about that.
And these are so.
These are individuals.
Can you imagine being on the streets in general and how hard that is?
Then them for a woman.
And then to be pregnant, and sometimes you’re pregnant and you have another child with you as well.
How difficult is that?
The feelings of hopelessness, you know, how am I going to provide for my baby?
How am I going to buy formula?
That’s exactly right.
So this, this support gives them, gives them what they need actually in order to be made to be able to make the decision to keep the baby as an example, right.
So, so that then they feel that they’re supported in that regard prenatally and even post natally, right.
It’s it’s just one of the many exciting programs that that we have in and that like I said all those beds at the Joint Joan Croc Center are all philanthropically funded important.
And so there’s a variety of different shelter types, beds for families, individuals.
How does someone get connected to their shelter bed?
I know you start with the diversionary conversation and then you said that they have to contact the county.
How does that work?
Yeah, it really depends on the program.
So the best thing I could say here to sum it up is that if someone is in need of shelter services or things that that they need some assistance as you know there’s some housing and security.
The best thing they can do is contact our team and the team can help connect them to the best resources whether it’s at Father Joe’s Villages or whether it’s making the introduction to the San Diego Housing Commission so they can determine what city funded program is the best or there could be, you know there’s other independently funded programs in the community as well.
So our team are information and referral specialist whether they’re at the day center or our guest services program, really they’re their goal is to learn all of those resources and to be able to make those appropriate referrals for the clients that we’re serving. 211 is also a great resource. 211 has all of the resources in the county, you know literally at their fingertips, their call center.
And so that can be a great place to to connect as well to learn what kind of resources are available.
But definitely always welcome to contact Father Joe’s Villages and we can help sort through that conversation.
Tell me more about the Day Center.
I know it’s a wonderful resource for our community.
What happens there?
Yeah, that’s that’s that’s an important one, that’s it’s one of the intake sites as Jesse had mentioned, and it’s also it’s it’s for single men and single women, they’re on the streets.
It’s called the day center because they can come in in the morning.
It opens up in the morning about 8:00-ish or so, and then it goes until the afternoon, maybe 4 thereabouts back on the streets, unfortunately.
But during that period of time, it’s an opportunity.
Sometimes it’s giving them a place of respite, if nothing else, right?
So they, because they’re on their guard, especially woman on the streets, a lot of them don’t even sleep during the night because they have fear, fear of being accosted, right?
So giving them that opportunity, but also very importantly is to start connecting.
With our workers, right, That’s extremely important.
We get them into the system.
We we start building a relationship with them so that we can get them off the streets as as quickly as possible into the programs that they need.
It also is a lot of people use the address of the day center as the mailing address.
I mean things that you, you and I take for granted, right?
We get mail at home.
And in our home and here they don’t have a home and yet they need to receive their mail and sometimes it’s checks that they’re receiving, right.
So, so they say they we provide the services there.
I think they’ve been to date, they’ve been 30,000 mail pieces, right, that have been delivered to that day center.
Can you imagine?
It’s almost as if we have a postmaster there who sorts everything out and so that people they can come in and ask for the for that and.
I’m sorry, you might not realize it, but having access to mail can be a serious barrier for housing.
I know when I was.
In my previous position I was working connecting people to housing and often times an ID or a Social Security card is required for those housing programs and if you don’t have an address to order that new ID, that’s going to set you back and just create another barrier.
Everything we do is in order to remove those barriers.
That’s that’s what it’s all about.
So, and something as, you know, plugging something as simple as plugging in a phone, you know, again, I don’t know about you guys, but that’s the last thing I do before I don’t take my phone to bed, All right?
So I leave it in the kitchen and I plug it in in the morning.
It’s magically charged, right?
But these individuals don’t have that capability.
They come in and they’re able to to plug in and then do laundry.
Showers, I got 20,000.
Showers have been dispensed.
As a result of the day center as well, right.
So again things that that we take for granted that is so very critical.
So it’s a it’s an extremely important resource.
So we’ve seen over 5500 individuals to date at the day center, a lot of people, unique individuals who who who come in and access the services at the day center.
It’s a small facility to serve as many people as they do every day.
It’s just incredible the work that they do, so shout out to our day son.
Right, right, right, right.
And they’re also we’re also through they were able to connect them to our meal service as well because we have our, our public lunch line.
And I mean that’s an important element as well, right.
I mean a million meals a year, breakfast, lunch and dinner and two dining rooms that we serve, right, not just for those who reside with us, but also we’re able to offer the services to those who are on the streets as well.
And that’s an important element.
I mean, if you’re hungry, I know.
My wife tells me that.
I’m cranky when I’m hungry.
I’m not really good for anything.
And so and so I mean that’s an important when you’re hungry, how can you focus on other things, right.
So that’s an important piece as well.
If you’re, if you’re concerned about having shelter and having to be on the street, how can you focus on anything else?
So you have to provide these basics.
They do, yeah.
And then so we have to work on these basics and then in working on those basics, then you can focus on health, which is so important, you can focus on employment and these others that really lift you out of your state.
Before we move into food, can you tell us a little bit about the inclement weather shelter?
Yeah, inclement weather shelter is upon us.
It is the period of November 1st to March 31st of every year.
I’m from the Midwest, so I still argue with the fact that San Diego has inclement weather, but I do recognize it.
We all do.
That’s that’s a joke.
But for someone living on the streets, it is definitely a resource that’s needed in our community.
Inclement weather shelter is provided at Father Joe’s Villages through our dining room spaces.
And so we transition our spaces where our clients eat every day into a temporary overnight shelter.
The inclement weather shelter is funded through the city of San Diego.
We are one of the inclement weather shelter providers.
We’re also the largest.
So the criteria for inclement weather shelter is very specific and it is, there’s there’s several bullets.
So we’ll go through those different activation criteria.
It is either that we are going to have a low, an overnight low, excuse me, of 50 degrees or lower with a 40% or greater chance of rain or inclement weather.
Shelter could activate if we have a overnight low of 45 degrees or lower without rain or it could be activated if there’s an extreme weather condition.
So by that I mean thunderstorms in the area and any kind of alerts that are coming through the National Weather Service that would make it dangerous for someone to live on the streets.
And then the final activation criteria would be that there is anticipated to be 25 mile per hour or greater winds.
And so all of those, you know, weather combinations can make it dangerous for someone to live on the streets.
So we open up our dining rooms.
We welcome people in.
They can start coming in as early as 4:00 PM, then they have to leave by 5:00 the next morning so that we can transition that space.
While they’re with us, we’re really working on making sure that their dignity is intact.
We want to provide them hygiene supplies that they may need.
If they have wet, wet feet or, you know, wet clothes, we’re going to give them or offer them a change of clothing while they’re sleeping with us.
They’ve got blankets and, you know, warmth.
We’re filling up their bellies with with warm, warm meal and that was provided in our dining room that evening to our shelter clients.
And then when they leave in the morning, if there’s still bad weather outside, we provide them with ponchos or anything that they may need to try to stay dry on the streets until they get to their next destination.
And you’re seeing individuals and families.
We do serve individuals and families.
We’re really lucky to have a space that we can set aside for people who are living on the streets with their children.
And so we do have an an individualized space for for those families and then our single adults can stay over in another area.
Thank you to your staff.
That must be so much work to set it all up and tear it all down.
And I’m sure they’re working overtime making that happen.
So thank you to them.
And they’re just on call, right.
So waiting for that weather event to happen.
We know by 10:00 in the morning, usually sometimes as late as 2:00 in the afternoon.
So while the rest of us are snuggled up at home and and warm and cozy, we have a team of people who are putting in extra time to make sure that this life saving resource is really available to people who are staying on the streets.
And they are dedicated and last year and Clement weather was called quite a bit.
And you might recall that it was very wet and cold and windy last last season.
So we it was called quite a bit.
So I was very proud of the team.
They stepped up time and time again.
I know they were exhausted at the end of it all and this year let’s hope it’s not that bad, not only for the sake of the the the team members, but also for the sake of those who are who are on the streets.
I mean, we love offering this, this extra support because it’s so.
It’s extremely necessary.
I know I toss and turn in my bed and especially during inclement weather season when I when I hear raining outside my window, right, Because I know that those yeah, we been able to take some off the streets but not at all right.
So and and always wanted to do more and more.
Let’s talk about food.
Now I know some of you who are listening, who already know and love our organization, know that we started from more humble beginnings making peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches.
Can you tell us about that and what food services look like now that’s?
What it was, you’re absolutely right.
You’re recalling correctly.
I mean we’re almost 75 years in existence, right.
In a couple of years we’ll be started the 75 year mark.
When it first started, really what we did was those peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches that we reserve at lunch.
That’s what that’s what happened.
That’s what you know, at least that’s what we had and that’s what the support that we gave and then look at what what’s happened over the years right now with all the various services that we provide in comprehensiveness.
And and holistic approach that we take, but yes, we serve, I think I mentioned before we serve a million meals a year breakfast, lunch and dinner and they’re warm as as as Jesse mentioned there a warm and hot meals that are nutritionally balanced, right.
So we have our executive chef.
Emil who’s there and he very lovingly prepares prepares these meals with his team.
In fact there was one someone who who has been staying with us for a bit who used the term exotic the other day when she was speaking with us and said she enjoyed the exotic meals that we served and and and she was she was referring to that the diversity of it because chef Emil has gotten to the point where he’s he’s having different cuisines that he’s preparing right and and so but I really appreciated that term that that that she used.
But the point is that it’s balanced in nutrition and nutritious and that’s what it’s all about, especially for our kids, of course across the board, especially for our kids because we know that those who especially they’ve been chronically on the on the streets and they suffer from malnutrition.
What happens, it shows in their, in their health, it shows in their teeth, right.
They lose their dental work.
And so that’s an important element.
Well, and we have our 5K which is coming up.
Soon, right, with the longest running 5K in the history of San Diego, that’ll be Thanksgiving morning at Balboa Park.
Lots of fun.
It’s lots of fun.
We we have more than 7000 individuals who come.
It’s a huge.
Event I love looking out at the Caprio Bridge when I, you know, when I set it, set them off for for the race or for the walk.
A lot of people just come to walk.
People come with their dogs and their pets and they dress them up like turkeys and and the like and they come with their children and it is just a lot of fun, wonderful way to kick off.
Thanksgiving morning, if you think about it, because that evening you’ll be sitting around your own table with your family.
I didn’t enjoying that and thinking about all the blessings.
And here you’re able to come in and really support our organization and all the proceeds there go for the meals, those meals that we serve on a yearly basis.
So it’s extremely important.
And then you can feel a sense of satisfaction after you go off.
You also burned off from the calories before you consume them, and that’s good too.
But a sense of, of, of.
I’ve done something that’s really, really worthwhile and good, makes a difference in peoples lives.
We have Disney characters for the kids.
After the after the walk of the race, there’s a beer garden.
In fact, right, that beer garden at 10:00 is very popular after they’ve run.
After they’ve run that race and it’s just it’s just a lot of fun.
We start actually start the morning at 6:30 in the morning with Mass.
For those who want to come to mass and that’s a way way if we kick kick off the day and sense and and sanctify our work there and and then we head off to to the races in a sense right.
So it’s a lot of fun and it’s makes a difference in in the lives of a lot of.
So it’s contributing to these three meals a day that you have in your shelters, the public lunch line that you serve lunch at every day and then the emergency food pantry, right is that’s.
You mentioned emergency food pantry.
I mean, every Friday we have cars that line up.
Outside our driveway and the line is getting longer and longer because we hand out boxes of non perishables to those who are housed, but they’re at risk of being falling onto the street.
So this helps them in so that they can budget their finances, right, so they at least know they have some food that they will have available for for that week.
So they it’s a big box with a lot of non perishables.
And they’re able to to to cook meals at their own in their own home.
How many boxes are you giving out a a week or a month?
Oh I think at this point in time the numbers have been growing.
I mean we have a few hundred that we give out on the on on the every Friday because it’s every Friday that we have these these cars that come by and and I just.
It’s amazing to me, kind of breaks my heart in a sense, to see these cars as long as they’re getting the line that’s getting.
But it also warms my heart to know that, hey, what we’re we’re helping them in in the in the time of need.
This is a substantial commitment to the community.
How do you offset the cost?
I know you talked about the 5K.
You talked about philanthropy.
That well it’s it’s philanthropy and as as as Jesse mentioned in the city funded programs that we have as well.
But it’s but it’s primarily philanthropy.
I mean if you think about it a lot and by philanthropy I mean individual gifting.
We also have grants that we receive in a grants from corporations from foundations, from family members in fact as well that they have they they set up grant systems as well.
So there are various ways of of getting involved.
People leave legacies to us, right?
People, they they contributed throughout their lifetimes and have made a difference and they feel they’ve made a difference.
They want to continue to make a difference after this lifetime, right?
And I’m so appreciative of those individuals who who leave us in their states, they leave us that amount so that we can continue our work and that makes a difference.
I’m always while I pray for for all our donors and I particularly pray for those who have passed.
And and and Thanksgiving for their for their lives that they that they’ve LED and the difference that they’ve made in the lives of those who we serve.
How about some success stories?
How have meeting these basic needs impacted the lives of people experiencing homelessness?
Yeah, we see it every day there.
There’s the big successes when people exit into housing.
That’s obviously the the ultimate goal.
And so those successes occur regularly.
I I think it’s the the small incremental successes that could be easy to overlook that stand out to me the most.
And so you know seeing someone who decides to come into the shelter for the first time, we we had a client who was notorious for living out and around our day Center for years.
And our day center lovingly referred to her as one of our diamond clients and really was a client that they made a focus of interacting with and their their goal was to get her to go into shelter.
And so it took years of relationship building to get her motivated to move into permanent or into shelter and she’s now in permanent housing.
So it’s it’s those kinds of things, just those those daily moments of building trust that really impact lives in a grand scale.
That’s what it’s all about building that trust and what as you were speaking Jesse someone by the name of Eric came to my mind.
Because Eric is a is a veteran and he’s someone who have been doing well actually and it was married and have been married for many many years and then his wife took ill and and and he lost his wife and felt that caused him to spiral.
I mean it.
He had some mental health challenges as a result.
Just accepting that the loss of his wife.
Married to to to my beloved for 46 years.
I’ve known her since I was 12 and I don’t know what I do without her.
I mean so I could and only imagine I felt for Eric tremendously and a veteran you know someone he has served in the in the wars and defended our freedoms and and here I mean he was just so mentally incapacitated at the loss of his wife.
He fell onto the streets and thank God he found us.
And through our Health Center and and the behavioral health clinic, our behavioral health clinic, they were able to help him.
In his situation right and and then able to situate him initially with shelter and then with housing which is as Jesse says ultimately that’s what breaks the the cycle of homelessness right and and so now he’s he’s getting you know it’s it’s a struggle for him but he’s doing so much better and he continues and and he’s so thankful for for the assistance and the support that we’ve given him and again he’s done the work right we we provide those resources and we’re happy to do that and and.
But I’m so it’s it’s made a difference in Eric’s life.
And then there’s so many of them.
So many Eric’s.
Yeah, so many Eric’s and I.
There’s just so many cool things that we get to do at Father Joe’s Village because of flexible funds.
I’m thinking of a family who came to us and shelter.
It was their first time homeless.
It was situational homelessness and they came around the holidays, which we’re we’re coming up on.
And so it really makes me think of them every year.
But every year they had a tradition of baking Christmas cookies that was part of their family tradition for the holiday.
And they thought that they weren’t going to be able to, well, we have what’s called a family or Oh my gosh, fun room.
What does it stand for?
Family Unity Night.
And so in our licensed therapeutic childcare program, one of our upstairs floors has a kitchen that families can check out and and cook.
And so the family was able to keep up with that tradition and we provided the supplies that they needed to make their cookies.
And it’s just like this situation and this housing crisis didn’t break what was important to them as a family.
And I just think that’s so important that we have the opportunity to be really flexible and meet people like you said where they are and and to keep their dignity and tack and.
And to give them their identity back.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I mean it’s never lost their identity, right.
And and and sometimes they feel they have and so that’s and you know you mentioned Jesse has such a great example, but you mentioned sitting around a table.
How important is that for us in our respective families?
You know you you build a relationship in that way and you got after one another as as well and and and so but that’s important.
So, so providing that as a resource is so very, very important.
I mean, we.
We, we like to build family even in our congregate dining areas, right.
But you can just do that in a limited fashion, right.
But we we provide that hospitality there.
But then this particular kitchen allows the these, the families to really be themselves and be with with each other and that makes such a tremendous difference.
Well, thank you both so much.
You shed light on this really important topic, our programs that meet basic needs.
Thank you for being here.
Well, thank you for having us.
Thank you so much, and thank you to our listeners of Neighbors Helping Neighbors.
Don’t forget that even small acts of kindness can make a world of difference in someone’s life.
See you next time.