Interfaith recently launched a new effort to improve nutrition and promote healthy lifestyles among North County families through the presentation of Food Smarts Workshops. Conducted by Leah’s Pantry, a partner nonprofit organization, the workshops aim to encourage healthy eating among both adults and children. Over the coming months, parents and children engaged in Interfaith’s Family Housing Program, which provides transitional housing as well as comprehensive support services for homeless families, will have the opportunity to participate in the Food Smarts Workshops.
The month-long Food Smarts Workshops engage residents to learn how to read nutrition labels, select and prepare meals with whole grains and fresh produce, as well as empower residents to independently create nutritious meals. Families participate in a wide range of activities in a social setting, with the goal of developing confidence to prepare healthy and nutritious meals at home.
The Food Smarts Workshops will work to train a total of 30 adults and children by August 2015 and exemplify Interfaith’s commitment to supporting the health and wellness of San Diego residents. Recently, the County of San Diego recognized Interfaith as an official partner in the Live Well San Diego initiative.
Interfaith is looking forward to growing this new program in the coming months!
Kicking off the Interfaith Community Services initiative to address veteran homelessness, over 150 people witnessed an official “sledgehammering” to begin the construction of a new Veteran and Family Resource Center on February 11, 2015. Upon completion, this 10,000 square feet facility at 250 N. Ash Street in Escondido will enhance Interfaith’s mission of Helping People Help Themselves.
To celebrate the beginning of construction, Interfaith’s groundbreaking ceremony welcomed over 160 guests, including charitable supporters, community members, government representatives, volunteers and staff to learn more about the project, hear success stories and tour the facility.
Present at the event were Tom & Dorothy Hawthorne, Kathy Issa of the Issa Family Foundation, Bill Horn – Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, Dave Roberts – Vice Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, Alexis Parker and Ron Sutliff of HomeAid, and representatives from the project’s construction company, Johnson & Jennings. After the program, guests were welcome to mingle, enjoy refreshments and put on hardhats to tour the facility with Robert Adams, Chief Development Officer of Interfaith Community Services.
While it is unthinkable to imagine our nation’s heroes, let alone their partners and children, falling into the cycle of homelessness after bravely serving their country, thousands of veteran families find themselves without a roof over their heads each year. Fortunately, Interfaith Community Services is here to help, and provides resources and support to over a thousand veterans each year to prevent and reverse the cycle of homelessness. Empowered by a new grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Interfaith’s Veterans Assistance of San Diego program is able to provide crucial emergency support to prevent veterans and their families from becoming homeless.
Recently, Interfaith was able to provide services for Kamila, a proud veteran spouse and mother of two young children, including a daughter with Autism. Kamila and her family found themselves in dire circumstances after her husband, who served in the Marine Corps for over ten years, unexpectedly lost his job. Simultaneously, Kamila’s hours working as an instructional aide were significantly decreased; due to these unfortunate circumstances, the family’s once stable and reliable income was drastically reduced.
Kamila’s husband quickly enrolled in a new employment training program, hoping to secure a new income source to support his family. While there was hope in sight, when she was threatened with an eviction notice and had her vehicle was repossessed, Kamila was left feeling distraught and overwhelmed, remarking “I had nowhere to turn.”
Being a former military spouse, Kamila believed there were organizations that provided support for veterans and their families. However, after reaching out to over 13 organizations, she discovered that they only provided assistance to active duty families. A chance encounter with an Interfaith partner organization, STEP (Supporting the Enlisted Project), provided Kamila and her family not only with the initial support they needed, but also a referral to Interfaith for further assistance to regain their self-sufficiency.
Through Interfaith’s Veterans Assistance of San Diego program, Kamila consulted with a case manager, who connected her family with crucial resources for the emergency assistance. Interfaith’s support proved invaluable in helping the family maintain their home and stability.
“With the help of Interfaith, we were able to pay our rent and avoid eviction, as well as receive assistance for our utility bills,” expressed Kamila.
While Kamila and her family continue to work to regain their independence, she remarks “Interfaith’s case management program has set us on the right path toward self-sufficiency.”
After a successful 40-year career in the business world managing salespeople and personally selling computer hardware and software, Jerry Morgan decided to retire in 2005 and began volunteering in the soup kitchen at Interfaith once a week. Soon after, in September of 2006, he came on staff as the Director of Basic Needs, assuming the responsibilities of running the soup kitchen every morning, keeping the food pantry well stocked and supervising many dedicated volunteers.
Jerry grew up in Seattle and earned his BA degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma and his MBA at Thunderbird Graduate School of International Business in Glendale, Arizona. He has served as the co-chair of the San Diego Hunger Advocacy Network, led local policy efforts to raise awareness of hunger issues and has met with state legislators to support CalFresh and Medi-Cal program goals. Today, Jerry and his wife live in Escondido and have two children and grandchildren that live in Encinitas and San Diego.
After years in the for-profit sector, Jerry credits Interfaith for helping him find his true passion in life – helping those less fortunate. We are lucky to have him as an integral part of our organization!
Interfaith invited members of North County faith centers to the Betty and Melvin Cohn Center in Escondido for its annual Clergy Appreciation Brunch in February 2015. Attendees were welcomed with a selection of songs by local folk singer, Peggy Watson, and were then served meals by Interfaith staff in appreciation for their dedication and service.
Executive Director Greg Anglea started the program by highlighting his personal gratitude for the faith centers’ hard work, not only for their respective congregations, but also to improve the North County community. He also introduced several guests, including Pastors Arliss and Floyd Freeman from Calvary Assembly, John Wichmann of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Reverend Meg Decker of Trinity Episcopal Church. The presentation concluded by encouraging attendees to spend the remaining time getting to know those of other faiths and discussing possible ways to work together in the future.
Interfaith not only thanks those faith leaders who were present at this year’s brunch, but all faith centers that volunteer, donate and involve themselves with Interfaith’s programs throughout the year. We appreciate all of your time and support!