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Welcome to another inspiring episode of the Neighbors Helping Neighbors podcast, brought to you by Father Joe’s Villages. In this episode, we are honored to have Afira DeVries, the CEO of the Monarch School, as our special guest. Afira DeVries shares her profound insights and experiences in tackling one of society’s most pressing issues: homelessness. As the leader of the Monarch School, an institution dedicated to educating and empowering homeless youth, Afira sheds light on the innovative approaches and compassionate strategies being implemented to break the cycle of homelessness.

Join us as we delve into the challenges faced by homeless individuals and families, and explore the impactful work being done to provide education, stability, and hope. Discover how Father Joe’s Villages is rebuilding lives through community efforts, education, and supportive services can create lasting change and pave the way for brighter futures.

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Podcast Transcript: Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness













[Music] welcome back I’m Maggie your host of The
Neighbors helping neighbors podcast from father Joe’s Villages this is a continuing Series where we explore
homelessness its causes and solutions to the issues our guests include experts
and leaders in the space people with lived experience and unique perspectives on homelessness if you’d like to learn
more about our mission visit us at and follow us on social media at father Joe’s Villages today
we’re focusing on Breaking the cycle of homelessness what that means how it’s being accomplished and how you can get
involved who better to explore this topic with than the subject matter experts themselves join me in welcoming
Aid de CEO of the Monarch school and my co-host president and CEO of Father
Joe’s Villages Deacon Jim welcome thank you so much be with you yes great to
have you here I’m delighted we’ve been looking forward to it me too I’m really grateful to have this space with you
thank you if youa introduce yourself tell us a little bit about your background and how you became involved
at the Monarch school okay well um I am the president and CEO of the Monarch school project uh I’m not an educator
though I’m a sociologist by education and I’ve spent really the majority of my career working toward
identifying and addressing the biggest gaps that we face in our society around
Social Challenges uh I come from a pretty I come from an amazing family
with a lot of challenges uh in my youth and I just kind of grew up with the sense that this is this is a space I
want to occupy in adulthood to do the best I could to to address problems so I
was working I worked for the United Way for a very long time and then I took a job uh globally doing International work
really identifying and scaling the world’s most effective social programs
and when covid hit I literally had a night where I was just saying I don’t want to be strapped to my computer doing
this work anymore I want something I could put my arms around again and the next morning I was contacted as though
you know divine intervention presented itself uh and I was contacted about the opportunity to come and run the Monarch
school and you know six weeks later here I was doing this beautiful work yeah
wonder and the Monarch school is is a little piece of Magic on Earth it is the
only public school in the United States that exclusively supports and nurtures
the education and Social Development of unh housee students so all of my kiddos are experiencing homeless in one
homelessness in one way shape or form beautiful that’s great that’s great Deacon tell us about yourself and your
scope of work at father Joe’s and I met AA by the way she had just arrived and Co had just hit and in the midst of it
we um we just I we just there was a connection there and and and part of the
connection I must say by the way is that we’re both Puerto Rican all right and and that helps know B and so we just hit
it off right off the bat and that was four years ago I think time just flies time I’m so proud of what you’re doing
at the Monarch school thank you so much I’m proud of what you do it’s a mutual admiration Society here oh yeah well
because it takes it takes a village it takes a community to get done what we need to get done and and just by way of
overview I always like to give an overview for for the viewers and the listeners we’re entering our 75th year
at father J’s Villages right and we’ve been in the space of homelessness we’re the longest in the space of homelessness here in Southern California and and
we’re unique uniquely positioned because we are we have the the broadest and the most comprehensive programs in order to
get to all aspects of the uniquness of the individual basically because each
one is at a certain Journey or part of their Journey out of homelessness I like to say so we have a federally qualified
Health Center and health is so important if you don’t have your health you really don’t have anything else right so health
is very very important so we have not only primary care but we also have Behavioral Health Clinic which includes
substance use disorder it also include psychiatric care we have a dental clinic
as well so it’s it’s incredible it’s one of our gems um and maybe we’ll touch upon a little bit one of the projects on
which we working now which is detox which is so very very necessary in in this community hopefully we’ll touch
upon it later on during the segment um and then we have our shelter system we have more shelter beds than any other
service provider about a thousand at this point in various locations and shelters are important because it’s a
way of getting people out of the off the streets and the immediacy and start working with them comprehensively in order to break that cycle and that’s
what it’s all about to to to break that cycle to serve meals something as simple meals a million meals a year right two
dining rooms breakfast lunch and dinner so that’s so such an important element as well um we know we know that a
shelter in the end is not a home and so we are blessed to be able to be affordable housing de Developers well
most recent which we opened two years ago is St teres of kakata 407 homes
taking over 500 people off the streets that’s incredible blessed to have been able to do that and we have a number we
have five um different facilities that are in the works right now in the pipeline and we hope to St breaking
ground on those first quarter second quarter of next year and into the following years as well so it’s that’s
incredibly important we have an employment center with employment with marketable skills comes job right and
income and then self-sufficiency so the vocational training we have within um
within the employment center is extremely extremely important and then we have our therapeutic Child Care Center in the therapeutic Child Care
Center we have kids there literally from new births U to mothers who are with us
they’re pregnant comes time to give birth they go off to the hospital for a couple of days and then come back with the so we’re blessed to be able to to
help them prenatally and postnatally and and then beyond so we have a preschool program that supports that them and then
once they become school age they go to different schools and they go to marar as an example so we’re going to focus on
on that and our the after school activities that we have because we support them through age 18 um just last
year over a thousand children we supported um up to age 18 from New Birth
at father Joe’s Villages over across 600 families because the families are important elements of it and we’ll talk
about that as well um with to build familial relationships it’s important
they then they can grow go forward in a strong in a strong way so that’s an important and transitional age youth
after age 18 from 18 to 25 we’ve supported we supported over 800 of those
last year as well that’s a tender ages well they think they’re adults legally they’re adults but we know otherwise we
who are parents right around this table and so we know and so that’s an important element as well so that’s a
whirlwind of what we do and you can see the comprehensiveness of our programs but we’re going to and we’re going to
focus on children today and we’re going to focus on the education aspect of that especially well I’ll see this though
before we get into that there’s um a lot of pride in the partnership that we have
with Father Joe’s because there is a uniqueness to the work that you do it is intentionally focused on the whole
family and the capacity for you all to provide supports from birth to adulthood
is actually fairly rare in the space of homelessness services and it makes a
huge difference for us just just about on average 14% of our students are in your care when they leave us and so it
makes a difference that you’re providing such a comprehensive set of services at least for us it makes our work just a
little easier yeah I agree and the partnership is what’s important because what we know of these kids as they’re
with us spills over into the care that you give them and vice versa right so
that partnership and the lines of communication are extremely important in order to be very effective in their lives and that’s what it’s all about as
we all the time it takes a village right so tell us about Monarch School your mission and what it really
means to break the cycle of homelessness well you know people think
they hear the word school and they think that that is what we are comprehensively and it isn’t I mean the reality is the
academic component of the work is critically important but it’s not really the priority um it’s it matters but when
our students come through our front door they’re experiencing something that they’re generally not going to
experience in a Traditional School setting which is a sense of belonging a sense of safety a sense of community and
the release of the need to hide which is often what kids students feel when
they’re in settings that are traditional because nobody wants to be known for their circumstances and a kid doesn’t
know how to be anything other than what the world tells them that they’re meant to be and if you call a kid homeless
that’s what they think they are and so when they come to Monarch school they get to be all that they’re me to be they
get to cultivate their potential they get to understand their individual gifts because everybody’s experiencing similar
uh circumstances and conditions and at Monarch school because they’re all experiencing the same thing they get to
be who they’re meant to be and set that baggage down at the door and so our work is really very much about the social and
emotional and life skill development of student in the effort to cultivate that internal sense of uh safety and capacity
and to feel like they’ve got something to offer that will transcend the circumstances that they’re in uh you
know the work is really primarily about supporting and partnering with the student and their family our work is not
just about the kiddo just like you at father Joe’s the work is really very much about making sure that the entire
family gets the support that they need to eventually achieve a sense of stability but the primary focus is
ensuring that each of our students leaves us with the belief that they can break the cycles that they’ve been
uh afforded in their life it’s also really important for us to remind the world and to remind the community itself
that parents and caregivers that find themselves in these situations are
generally exceptional parents just like everybody wants to be you and their
circumstances shouldn’t dictate the way we view them and so so much of our work is about helping them believe in
themselves as parents and caregivers everything from you know on our on our site you can find and you will find
showers and laundry facilities but you’ll also find a team of people working with parents to consider
opportunities for permanent Supportive Housing and resume building and access
to Career parenting classes and even cultivating their own artistic and creative capacity as adults all of that
stuff happens at the mon school and it shows and shows in the way our kids succeed and chosen the way families become stable so you’re treating the
whole family and your meeting them where they are because each family has different and specific
needs yeah you know in the space of social care there is a model for
supporting families that is generally outdated in my observation and it’s the
deficit-based approach right so you come through the doors of a social service organization and you ask what’s wrong
with you what do you need what are your problems at Monarch school we are asset
based strength based which means we’re working with not for
the family and that approach means what’s good what gifts do you already
have what relationships can you rely on what strengths do you have and how can
we cultivate them to solve the other challenges that you’re facing that’s working with and that energy is
dignified that instills a sense of mutual partnership and allows the family
to maintain their dignity and to feel respected by the environment that they’re in so all of our programs are
centered around being asset-based and that includes the way we engage with our students and the way we engage with
their parents and caregivers and it makes a huge difference it means that they get to walk away from us every day
retaining that sense of dignity and dignity is the precursor to any measure of hope we hope to instill in anyone
ever right without dignity you cannot be hopeful that’s great and and that’s so important dignity I mean you know we
have we we function by way of our Creed compassion respect empathy empowerment
and dignity so that’s their circumstance does not define them the fact that they’re on house that does not define
them and we find time and time again that if you apply the right resources tap into their potential it’s
incredible what you the return that you receive that’s right and it’s across the board whether it’s adult the adults or
the children the children who come to us are four times more AC to be homeless and H unhoused as adults unless we
mitigate those circumstances right it’s incredible to watch especially kids are so resilient I’m sure you found this
right AB especially so you you apply the right the right resources the right love and compassion it’s incredible how they
bounce back and it makes all the difference in the world that’s right and you know the job really is to inspire a
sense of belief in themselves and then get out of the way get out of the way every kid has a a core set of gifts they
don’t always know what they are our job is a adults no matter who the kid is or where they go to school is to allow them
to believe that that’s that something is possible for them help them find what that something is and then get out of
their way and allow them to pursue that and that’s what we do not just for our students but also for their families so
that all we are doing is creating space for them to cultivate their best selves right right it’s not rocket science but
it is unusual isn’t that right right right right right right and so necessary because the structures and the resources
are there but with the infusion of that dignity and that love and that feeling of safety it’s just an uphill battle or
it can be sure would you want to go back somewhere that made you feel like you were less than because you needed help
in that moment of course you wouldn’t but if you go to some to a place no matter what the place is and you feel
like who you are is being seen you’re GNA go back and you’re going to keep going back until you’re no longer it’s
no longer needed anymore that’s the goal right and there’s so many of these kids who are in situations and are in schools
as an example up in through college age actually with they are unhoused and they’re sitting next to
peers who are not who are housed right and as you said they don’t want that to get out right so they just a struggle in
that regard I particularly am so impressed with students who are able to go to school in that circumstance right
and they’re they’re then studying in a you know outside on the street or in a
car or and and and yet they’re excelling in school right isn’t that isn’t is that
not impressive it is that’s remarkable I have students that will come to school
bring their younger siblings get up at the crack of dawn to be there on time and then stay to play sports and do
their homework and they don’t even get back home till 8 n o’clock at night and they’re back the next morning and any of
us who have kids it sometimes I can’t help but compare my own children and I’m
like man I couldn’t get my kid out of bed this morning and this child was just here five hours ago but yes and it’s
that Dedication that cultivation of self-belief that’s it’s inspiring right it gets me out of bed every day they can
do what I can do it any of us can do that’s right that’s right what are some of the most significant challenges that
you’re seeing for your unhoused students and their families and how do you address those to support their academic
and personal growth well some of this isn’t going to be a tremendous surprise to hear right the lack of
affordability that is inherent to the condition of homelessness particularly in the state of California and in our
region is a significant challenge because you know upwards of 80% of our
families have some form of employment and it’s just insufficient to the task
when you consider what it takes to get into stable housing right first last month security Furnishing it’s really
hard so set that aside and understand that that is the the primary concern for
us to be dealing with as a society then you deal with the underlying factors that have to do with the implications of
domestic violence and when a woman has been relying on spouse or partner and
realizes she’s needing to make a difficult choice between supporting and stabilizing family and being able to be
safe guess what she’s going to make the right choice more often than not and it’s going to lead to being unsheltered
then you add substance abuse then you add you know being involved Justice involved all of those compounding
factors create an envir enironment that simply spirals for so many families the
implications for our students are generally health related physical or
mental health related where you know and it’s a huge percentage of my students
have asthma or are struggling with you know diabetes or chronic illnesses and
then the mental health mental health considerations which we view as critical
to their development also we have a really comprehensive on-site clinical mental health program for our students
and their caregivers because if you can’t get past the trauma and work toward healing you’re not going to learn
a darn thing I don’t care what classroom you’re in and what your teacher’s doing can’t be there and of course they’re
dealing with complex trauma considering the mobility of their lives and the situations that they’re often growing up
in so those factors make a huge difference and they’re not the same things that a kid in a Traditional
School setting that goes home to sleep in the same bed every night is dealing with you know sure kids everywhere have
mental health concerns to be considerate of but complex trauma is a very special kind of trauma it’s the kind that
defines you and follows you into adulthood if it isn’t addressed which is why it’s so important for us to have
that kind of comprehensive programming on our campus and what does that programming look like what are some
examples of it right so uh we have again a clinical team right I have licensed
clinicians associate clinicians and trainees on site at Monarch school and
we do therapy in really unique ways we’ve got the traditional stuff right
the one-on-one counseling we do group therapy we do family therapy but we also
do some really interesting things like we deploy our clinicians to play basketball in the in the court with the
kids and you know be present for them far beyond the one hour of clinical
one-on-one time and that consistent presence does two really important things one is it builds Rapport and
relationship creates uh an opportunity for the child to let their guard down a little bit and feel connected to at
least one adult on campus and then the other piece of it is having the consistency of moving through a
therapeutic process even if they don’t really know what’s happening right right
you catch a kid doing something that they enjoy and is fun and cathartic for
them like creative Youth Development art expression or Athletics you are going to catch them when their guards down enough
to be able to release some of that trauma and have conversations that are healing for them so we have a really
creative approach to mental health it’s consistent it’s daily and it is
impactful because it is sustainable for them you come to school you’re going to be supported in Myriad ways and that’s
one of them and they and they’re going home to parents who also don’t like to
let their guard down because they’ve been appointed time and time again abuses and whatever else we find that
father Joe’s Villages right so they don’t let their guard down right so if they unless we get unless we work with
them as you do as well then the kids won’t let their guard Downs either that’s right I mean I we had a we had a
comes to mind is we had a parent single parent who came in uh to us and their child who was 22 months old I believe um
didn’t walk right and initially we thought there was something pathologically wrong and also the the
child didn’t make eye contact didn’t smile and only to find out that there
was nothing pathologically wrong with the child the child had always been kept in a stroller right think about this why
your initial reaction is to think well that’s abusive right well no but that was the safest place for that child on the street right and so and then to
further complicated the per the mother had draped a cloth over the stroke so
the child didn’t have social interaction again to keep the child safe and didn’t have social interaction it was
incredible when when the clinicians worked with this child over a period of time number of months how incredibly
again kids are resilient kid running up and down the hall driving everybody crazy and and smiling and laughing as
they should they should again to that to that point and and we had to work with
the mother as well because the mother think about how she was thinking right to your point because she’s trying to do the best she can provide safety for her
child and that’s what it that was the best that was the thing she could control in that moment you know one of the most powerful Moments One of the
most enduring memories I think I will ever have in my career is the process
that I witnessed and experience with one student that joined our campus midy Year
young middle schooler and before we even met this child we had heard child doesn’t make
eye contact the child is not receptive to learning really not incredibly verbal
or vocal unless causing trouble or problems and is a known Insomniac never
sleeps it’s a pretty significant challenge for this for this kiddo gets enrolled and over a period of about
three months the kinds of interventions I talked about with the mental health Continuum of support and just access to
cathartic work cathartic healing like artistic expression recognizing that everybody around him was dealing with
similar circumstances nothing about him really stood out one day I walked I was
walking through campus as I as I do and I was walking through the playground and it was hot out and the kids are out
there playing basketball it’s not a huge playground so they’re all you know kind of crammed into the same space and it’s
noisy there’s music playing and I look over and I see this baby laying on the
ground in the deepest most peaceful sleep you could ever conceive like I was
envious of the sleep and I thought to my myself and I started to to tear up and cry because I thought to myself you know
this might seem weird to people but I see this as an extraordinary example of healing because this child who was was a
known Insomniac three months ago feels so safe and connected and supported that
he was able to let his guard down and sleep just that by itself is such a
powerful message about the importance of creating the right environment for kids
well and these kids in the parents included right they don’t sleep when they’re on house and on the streets
right because especially women are afraid of being accosted right and yes insomnia sets in how can a child be
healthy to your point right and how can they learn if they’re not getting the right nutrition if they if they they’re
in this type of environment right so so yeah absolutely so providing the that that resource the resources and what’s
necessary um it’s and it’s not like you said it’s not rocket science right it’s not and and also their reaction to the
world isn’t rocket science right it’s survival that’s survival mode if you’re going to choose between safety and sleep
you’re going to choose safety you’re going to protect yourself and your mom and your siblings that becomes your
watch that’s the watch you’re on so we gave that child we give our students
space to let down that kind of G and that kind of responsibility and there’s something really beautiful about that
right Deacon does this align with what you’re seeing at father Joe’s Villages and can you tell us about the wraparound
services that you provide including those for families sure absolutely I mean think about it when the kids come
to us and AA you I’m sure you experienced this they’re academically emotionally socially delayed in so many
ways and so we target the services to their unique needs the word uniqueness has been used before right um in this
session here and that’s so very very important because you don’t want to take a one-sized fits-all approach not
everyone needs extensive Sur uh services and others because they may they may be
at a different place or and others do need extensive services so the assessments aspect of this is very
important when a child comes to us right we want to make sure that we assess what they they absolutely need and then we
apply those those resources so some kids as an example may need Speech Pathology and my daughters are speech pathologist
actually so so I know a little bit about Speech Pathology just from from from her and but that’s an important elements
because if you don’t if if you don’t tackle that or you don’t address that
that sets the child back so drastically right they don’t feel comfortable and in the settings right so that’s an
important element as well so um but then also the the their cognitive situation
is assessed and then the resources necessary there are are utilized um some
of them need occupational therapy right so um and some children need resources
resource teachers in a sense and so and and and what we do with them after school after marar sends them back to us
as an example right be it as you mentioned any artistic work that we do with them or just mentoring and and
helping them with their with their homework which I know Mar school does as well it’s just you know again meeting
them where they are it’s whatever they need will provide and and the and and
the family aspect of this is so important so just um making sure there’s
role modeling to making sure that um parents understand how to parent because
some people some you know you parent you’re both parents right and well you
may not think about it when most most of us don’t but we parent according to how we’ve been parented if we’re blessed
then I was blessed my parents were great parents that’s necessarily perfect but they were great parents and so we
parents I like to think I I parent in in a decent way my my kids always tell me they’re in therapy but they’re kidding
but but but uh just to get after me but the point is that um the these these a
lot of these parents haven’t had good Role Models right so helping with them with that so that they and then and
that’s where role modeling comes in where you know the the the psychologist um or the social worker really
visualizes them in any setting and then makes recommendations in a very constructive way right and and these and
to your point that’s what the parents want the parents want this they want this feedback right because they want to be good parents in the whole process
that’s so true and you know one of the things that we’ve found and is core to
the way we deliver similar services or partnership Services it’s you know judgment is an incompatible concept to
compassion and partnership and so most parents love their kids and want to be
the strongest most effective adult they can be for their for their child and yet
they don’t always know how best to do that and when you can honor that love
and honor that intention and provide them with the resources and supports that they need to develop in whatever
ways they they need to or want to now you’re now you’re hitting on all cylinders it’s the robbery of dignity
and it’s the implications of judgment that often perpetuates so much of so many of these cycles and sometimes it’s
really just as simple as as doing what you just described which is you know we know you love and care here are some
ideas or some thoughts as to how you could be even more impactful and even more present for your child it’s if we
were all effective at doing that as social care organizations it could be transformative I’m so grateful that you
do the work that you do the way you do it yeah absolutely it’s those finite adjustments kind of a paradigm shift
that we really need to implement in addition to other things what would you two say are the most contributing
factors to homelessness well I think I was GNA say
you go first but man do I have a soap box on this one yeah and I won’t I won’t go uh crazy with it but we need to
recognize as a state that our conditions and circumstances here are unique and different from the rest of the country
that’s evidenced by the fact that 50% of the nation’s unhoused population lives
in the state of California and we have to decide that we are no longer
interested in ignoring that fact recognize it embrace it and do something about it related to affordable housing
and mixed income development yeah the solutions for home H lessness largely have to do with breaking cycles and
those Cycles are best broken by creating living environments that offer a mixed income environment so that people from
all walks of life can share amenities in a neighborhood and that we are intentionally offering
affordability and supporting families that are emerging from homelessness with
the Baseline services and support so that they’re not revisiting that condition that’s the work it’s expensive
it’s long-term it’s not evidenced overnight but it is how you address homelessness at the root and it’s
important and time for our community and for the state to get focused on
addressing those underlying conditions D Jim I imagine you have I agree
wholeheartedly oh absolutely I agree wholeheartedly the economics is the
number one reason people are falling into homelessness and you’re right this region is unique in that regard right I
mean they homelessness across you States and in other areas economics play A Part as well like like in New York as an
example or New York having the largest homeless service homeless population in the nation we here in Sano have the
fourth largest homeless population you think about that and it’s the economics you alluded to that to it before as well
the one-bedroom apartment median um rent is about 24 $2,500 the rental vacancy at
this point is at about 3.2% which means no sooner does an apartment come on the market it gets
scooped up and far Out Of Reach for the people who we serve right so affordable
housing is absolutely important which is why a number of years ago we made a commitment that we would deploy 2,000
affordable housing units into the market right through either new construction like St Teresa of Kata Villa for the
acquisition and refurbishment of motels and we have an example of that in what we call Benson place down in South Bay
Area and that’s 83 units it was dilapidated Motel we now have 83
spanking new new single studio apartments and it’s it’s incredible the
Gated Community is beautiful again dignity a sense of dignity it’s all about dignity right and and what we
build is is not shabby at all I mean it’s in keeping with the community that
that we serve in a larger way and and also the the people who will be residing
within those within those units and those homes I mean the again getting to
the economics and of course there substance used to sort of just mental health unit that that exacerbates the
situation right those challenges as well um and some of them you know happen at
the beginning of of of becoming unhoused others develop because of being unhoused
chronically right and we know as a community that if we scoop of individual sooner rather than later it’s less
costly the interventions are less costly and we’re most effective once people are
chronically homeless some have been it’s a heartbreaking um especially seniors who are out there you know the the
population is aging and we see and the seniors have have unique needs as an example people are out there long period
of time oh my gosh they’re ravished by homelessness by the way the mortality rate is 20 years 20 years basically I
mean so so if you’re if you’re 50 years of age and you’ve been chronically homeless it’s as if you’re 70 right so a
big deal but two thoughts one is the beauty of the work that you’re doing is extraordinary and also unfair that a
social Care Organization would be taking on such a significant scope of responsibility this is what I mean when
I say as advocates there’s opportunity for us to raise the flag and say we need
corporate support we need private sector support and we need government support to model very similar approaches to the
ones that you’re that you’re implementing and the other thought is when kids grow up in an environment
where people are all sharing the same uh neighborhood and are dealing with different circumstances within their
homes they ha they have access to examples that can be life-changing for them which is why concentrating poverty
through housing developments is a bad idea and creating mixed income living environments is much more solution
oriented so that’s my soap box I will also say there’s only so much any of us
can do and so the fact that we’re focused on students is is where I you
know direct my attention but those of us who do this work have thoughts opinions and ideas that I think
all of us would be so willing to share with those who are making decisions absolutely and we share it sometimes
when we’re not even asked right because and that’s where advocacy comes in it’s but ask
us no I know I know I I I I I share that sentiment the that’s why the con the
developments that we have the the housing developments that we have are mixed use right because of that very reason right so that we know as an
example um each of them have a psh aspect which is people who do need extra care and
comprehensive Services they suffer from some level of disability be a physical
emotional psychological substance use challenges as an example but then there’s also those who are not it’s
affordable housing and why because our mission is either to prevent or end homelessness so we catch people before
they fall onto the streets and become unhoused right and that’s an important element as well so I I wholeheartedly
agree I’d love to hear if you could give just a bit of advice to an educator who
is listening right now just one little token of how they can better serve their unhoused students what would you say I’m
gonna turn this into a commercial okay so um what’s next for Monarch
school project is the codification of our work and the development of a
training center called Monarch Nexus for educators and student facing
professionals to come and learn from our methodology uh what we do is not
necessarily proprietary in in its individual form but collectively it’s extremely uncommon we combine Three core
practices that’s really what it comes down to we’re trauma informed we’re strength-based and we are restorative
and we can teach teachers how to deliver that kind of leadership in their
classrooms in a way that’s healing for all kids not just for unhoused kids it
allows you to connect with them differently it avoids punitive response to behavioral disruption and it helps
them feel like individuals all of them and every single one of our kids would
benefit from that kind of learning environment absolutely really has a tremendous impact on kids who are
dealing with complex trauma but guess what an ordinary kid is always going to benefit from a teacher that understands
how talk to them so my advice to teachers and student facing professionals is come and see what you
might learn from the Monarch school project after nearly 40 years of existence 40 Years of evidence of the
impact of our work and take it back to your to your school site um to develop
your skills as an educator beautiful that’s great that’s great thank I applaud you for that by the way yeah
yeah well it’s our version of scaling right we can’t throw up a bunch of new monarchs schools but we can teach people
how to do we do so effectively you’re definitely the ones with expertise who should be we didn’t
mean to right 30 40 years ago but here we are and we do have a scope of
expertise that we are more than willing to share at this point so and you don’t have to go very far because even in this
region right in southern of Southern California oh yeah there’s a lot of benefits to be had here but then Across the Nation absolutely there are 23,000
unhoused kids just in the San County School commune just just here if we just
started in our backyard what could it mean exactly exactly well before we end the show I have one more question what
uh what is the role of the local community in supporting the efforts in each of your organizations and how can
people get involved you go first all right ladies first okay we have Myriad ways to be
supportive of our community and our population I always start though by saying be
Advocates it’s important for people to understand the underlying conditions that cause and perpetuate homelessness
in our region and it’s important to be able to speak to those issues to power
and also to your neighbors because it’s the only way to change the perspective
so there’s that there’s also volunteer opportunities that have to do with helping us do the job that we do for
example reading remediation is really critical to our learning environment so many of our students are behind in their
reading capacity because of the mobility of their early years and if a kid can’t
read at grade level by fourth grade they’re going to have a really hard time learning so volunteering your skills
learning from us how to be a literacy educator for example is a great way to
volunteer your time and do something potentially life-changing for students and then of course we have lots of
things we need right our students are always needing stuff like uh belts and
socks and feminine hygiene products so um check us out check out our website and give what you can and also if you
got extra money we wouldn’t mind taking it off you can right right right right
that’s great we are not supported by the school district that by the way people often think because we’re a school we’re funded by the school we are not we raise
every dollar we spend on our programs right that’s great those are the three elements right advocacy is so very very
important in fact we have some government funding and some of that was going to be cut recently
and we got mustard support across the board across the community and they showed up at the City Council meetings
in force right advocating basically as a result the dollars were restored right that’s a perfect example volunteering
right we have 5,000 we’re blessed with 5,000 volunteers this past year right the the it was a million dollars worth
of services that they provided over many many hours as you can imagine it’s a big
deal I mean it’s nothing to be sneezed at right I couldn’t I wouldn’t have been able to have to pull different
additional dollar to be able to provide those services from serving meal to serving as Grandparents who hold the the
babies in in the preschool to so many things and every volunteer always comes back and says that they get so much more
than they they feel they they give in the whole process and then philanthropy the reality is that the bulk of our of
our money funding that we have is philanthropic in nature right so the community we’ve been blessed to have a
community um that really believes in our mission um they love our successes and
and the difference that we’re making not only in the lives of those who we serve but also the community as a whole right
and because the community as a whole becomes healthier as AA has mentioned and so this is um those are the key
elements right and and so we can’t we cannot stress it enough and just most recently you know I I I know we’re
ending I mentioned detox at the beginning I’m talking more and more detox because this is an element that
really has not been utilized for our population as much as it needs to be
right across the entire County there’s 78 detox beds two of which are in the city of San Diego none of which
basically are going to our population and so we made a commitment just recently that we’re going to deploy
we’re going to have we’re going to repurpose some beds 45 beds focus on detox right we’re as excited as could be
about it and those 45 bed beds is programs about 14 days long so they’ll turn over throughout the month hopefully
we’ll serve 80 to 90 individual not hopefully we will and then we have recovery RS we’re going to have 250
recovery sober living beds right so there’s a nice progression but we’re uniquely positioned because we have a
federally qualified Health Center there because we have Behavioral Health Specialists there right this is going to be a game changer I love how passionate
you are oh my and likewise likewise I mean no no but you got you have to be passionate about this because I mean
well it’s just I can’t say enough and it has to do with dignity at the end of the day it has to do with
it’s meeting them where they are providing what they need because of dignity that’s what it’s all about not
government funded none of it is by the way so we’ll need $1.5 million to to
establish this program by the first quarter of next year and with God’s helping to his glory we’re going to get it done people are going to step up I’m
really excited there’s no doubt they’re GNA step up they’re going to see that this is this is absolutely necessary I
mean these are individuals who are cycling in and out of these bed now but we’re not getting to the fundamental
problem and that’s a sub a beautifully generous Community when there’s understanding and awareness of the work
that we’re doing and that we’re doing collectively so yeah so I I know that
you’ll get it done and we’ll get it done we’ll get done and we’ll talk detox more at another in another segment but I
Maggie knows I can’t help in any circumstances I’m I’m bringing this program up more and more because it’s
it’s just so necessary right so well what an honor to sit here with the two of you Advocates Movers and shakers who
are out there really doing it so thank you so much for being here thank you been looking forward to this it’s been it’s been great thank you I’m honored to
be here and I really enjoyed this discussion thank you for creating the platform of course thank you of course
and thank you for joining in the conversation homelessness is a human story and father Joe’s Villages is more
than a service provider we’re a movement and a catalyst for change join us on our
next episode as we bring you the conversation again on more important issues and solution solutions to learn
more about the Monarch School visit Monarch and for father Joe’s
Villages visit until next time take care how will you get involved
join us and take action for our neighbors in need father Joe’s Villages is rebuilding lives and you can make a
difference whether it’s through cash donations volunteering your time contributing HomeGoods or clothing
shopping at our thrift stores or online or participating in planned giving there are are numerous ways to get involved
take action today at because together we are all neighbors helping neighbors


Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast Ep. 1-23: The State and Solutions of Homelessness

Father Joe’s Villages


Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast Ep. 2-23: Meeting Basic Needs

Father Joe’s Villages


Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast Ep. 3-23: Making Health a Priority Part I Physical Health

Father Joe’s Villages


Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast Ep. 4-23: Making Health a Priority Part II Behavioral Health

Father Joe’s Villages


Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast Ep. 5-23: Investing In Children

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast S2 Ep. 1-24: Strengthening Self-Sufficiency

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast S2 Ep. 2-24: Lived Experience Panel

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast S2 Ep. 4-24: The Power of Philanthropy & the Children’s Gala

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast S2 Ep. 3-24: Turning the Key: Affordable Housing

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast S2 Ep. 5-24: Outreach & The Day Center

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors Podcast S2 Ep6-24: Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness.

Father Joe’s Villages