Though these are difficult times, it is often during unprecedented crisis that heroes are made. In the face of a pandemic, Father Joe’s Villages’ dedicated staff remain on the frontlines, continuing to provide critical services such as shelter, health care, meals and hygiene services to people living on the streets.    

Providing Essential Services

As an essential service, Father Joe’s Villages’ staff remain on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis providing critical support for our neighbors desperately in need in the community. By still offering comprehensive services like shelter, healthcare, food and much more, they alleviate the suffering of those living on the streets and, ultimately, save lives.  

Aeemah is one such committed staff member working at Father Joe’s Villages. As an Information and Referral Specialist at the San Diego Day Center, Aeemah provides daily support and guidance for our neighbors in need during this tense time.

In partnership with the City of San Diego and the San Diego Housing Commission, the San Diego Day Center for Homeless Adults offers basic human dignity services like restrooms, mail, and phones and accessible sanitation options to those struggling with homelessness. Through the San Diego Day Center, neighbors living on the streets can access showers and laundry services which are especially crucial in protecting against COVID-19. 

“The San Diego Day Center is like a safe haven for them,” Aeemah explains. “A lot of places that people in the homeless community used to go during the day are now closed, so this is the only outlet they have to get off the streets.”

Adapting to a New Normal

Each day, Aeemah plays the role of educator, protector and friend to clients seeking refuge at the San Diego Day Center. They trust her and the rest of the Day Center staff to provide them with information and assistance they don’t receive out on the streets.

“Every day I try to get our clients informed. I turn on the news and say, ‘this is important, guys. You have to pay attention.’ I explain that they need to be proactive as far as their health is concerned.”

When the pandemic began, clients at the Day Center would look to staff for news updates and direction. Aeemah was sure to explicate the importance of social distancing and handwashing. She relayed to them the symptoms of COVID-19, and informed them to go to the Village Health Center should they feel sick. 

The emergence of COVID-19 has forced Aeemah and her fellow staff members to change the way they operate the Day Center. To adhere to new social distancing procedures, only 25 people are allowed into the Day Center at a time in hour and a half intervals. While time restraints make providing services to those in need more difficult, the Day Center staff has adapted their methods during this time to ensure each client gets the resources they need. 

When asked why she continues to show up to work during this stressful time, Aeemah asserts that it’s her devotion to serving those in need that drives her.  

“It’s about treating people like people,” she explains. “I come to work because I know I am helping. I’m being of service. When I get home from work I know I’ve brightened somebody’s day. The staff at the Day Center, we work with our hearts.” 

A Job with Heart 

In the face of a pandemic, the San Diego Day Center staff continue to show up for neighbors in need, each and every day. By leading with compassion and respect, Aeemah and her team members work to restore dignity to people living on the streets so they can focus on improving their lives.

The consistent empathy the Day Center team shows to individuals who often feel discarded or forgotten by society is crucial in helping them begin their journey out of homelessness.

We’re thankful for the incredible efforts of the Day Center staff to protect the health and safety of those we serve, and for making it possible to bring neighbors off the streets during these uncertain times. 

Thank you for always working with your hearts.

This project is funded in whole or in part with Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) and/or Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program funds provided by the U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the City of San Diego.