Interfaith Community Services looked back at its past and into its future at its Annual Meeting held Tuesday, Oct. 7 at Temple Adat Shalom in Poway, one of the agency’s founding congregations.
The 300 or so staff members and supporters of the North County provider of comprehensive basic needs and social services for people in need got the first look at a 45-foot-long timeline detailing many of the 35-year-old organization’s most significant moments. They then participated in a strategic visioning exercise aimed at helping Interfaith to determine its near-term priorities.
Executive Director Greg Anglea also announced a donation of up to $1.1 million from philanthropist and longtime ICS supporter Mel Cohn to name the Cohn Family Executive Director Chair for the next 10 years, a gift that Anglea said “goes to the core of who we are” – an agency leading the way to help people help themselves.
Before looking ahead, Anglea took a moment to salute 27-year volunteer Josie Bojorquez, presenting her with the Saemi Award. Interfaith annually presents the award to a volunteer who best exemplifies the ICS spirit of giving.
Bojorquez “helps in a profoundly steadfast way,” said Anglea, spending nearly every Tuesday afternoon in the development office processing each gift that arrives and sending a personal thank-you note to each donor.
Two former clients shared their personal stories with meeting guests, detailing how Interfaith’s programs and staff members helped them to move on from difficult circumstances into more stable living situations.
Continuing and enhancing that kind of work is at the heart of the strategic visioning process in which the meeting guests then participated. People at each table engaged in discussions of what are the community’s most urgent needs and how Interfaith should move forward to meet those needs.
The results were compiled and will be passed along to Interfaith’s board of directors for consideration at its meeting later this month.
Philanthropist Melvin Cohn, a longtime supporter of Interfaith Community Services, has added to his generous support with a commitment of up to $1.1 million to name the Cohn Family Executive Director Chair for the next 10 years.
The donation will include grants of $50,000 each in 2015 and 2016 from the Betty and Melvin Cohn Endowment Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation. Beginning in 2017, the $50,000 annual distributions will come from the new Cohn Family Endowment Fund for Interfaith Community Services, to be established with a gift of $1 million.
“Throughout our history, the Cohn family has created a remarkable legacy through their support of Interfaith. Again, the Cohn family has stepped up with this generous gift; they are truly the heart of Interfaith,” said Executive Director Greg Anglea
Cohn and his wife, Betty, who passed away in April 2013, have offered generous financial support and participated personally as leadership volunteers at Interfaith Community Services for more than 20 years. In 1991, they funded the Tikkun Home, an Escondido residence for mentally ill women. The name Tikkun Home reflects the Cohn family belief in Tikkun Olam, Hebrew words meaning “to heal and repair the world.” The headquarters of Interfaith at 550 W. Washington Ave. in Escondido is named the Betty and Melvin Cohn Center in honor of their gift that helped secure and support this centerpiece of the agency.
“This is a strong endorsement of our organization, leadership and the work we do to help people in crisis,” added Anglea.
Interfaith Community Services provides a wide range of programs to help hungry, homeless, and low-income people throughout North San Diego County. Programs include food and basic needs, shelters and housing, employment services, family and social services, children and youth programs, senior services, veterans assistance, and addiction recovery. Each program is designed to “help people help themselves.”
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded Interfaith Community Services a $3 million grant through its Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. This award will provide new federal funds to Interfaith Community Services to help end veterans homelessness in San Diego County.
Grant funds will be used to provide wraparound services – including rental and utility assistance, financial literacy training, transportation, and individualized case management – to low-income veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The program’s goal is to provide struggling veterans and their families with rapid assistance to prevent homelessness, as well as to restore housing stability for homeless veterans.
Through a partnership with People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), Interfaith Community Services will work to prevent and combat homelessness, provide immediate assistance and prevent homelessness for more than 180 low-income veterans and their family members over the next year.
“Ending veterans homelessness is a top priority for our organization,” said Greg Anglea, Executive Director of Interfaith Community Services. “We are deeply committed to ensuring our nation’s heroes receive the support they deserve. This new grant award will provide crucial funding to end homelessness among San Diego County veterans.”
Through the SSVF program, the VA has helped tens of thousands of veterans exit homelessness and prevented just as many from becoming homeless. According to the 2014 Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, nationwide homelessness among veterans has declined 33 percent since 2010.
Interfaith Community Services has been “helping people help themselves” in North County San Diego since 1979. The organization provides a wide range of programs designed to empower hungry, homeless, and low-income community members to begin a pathway toward self-sufficiency. Each year, Interfaith Community Services serves more than 19,000 community members by providing basic needs and nutrition support, social services, shelters and housing, employment development, youth programs, senior services, veterans programs and addiction recovery support.
The Escondido City Council recently commended Interfaith Community Services and the Hunger Advocacy Network for their efforts to eliminate hunger and improve access to nutritious and healthy food among low-income residents. As a partner in the Hunger Advocacy Network, Interfaith’s dedicated staff worked tirelessly to gain the support of the City of Escondido to recognize the need to end hunger. These joint efforts recently culminated in the City of Escondido issuing a Proclamation declaring September as Hunger Action Month.
While Interfaith’s Director of Basic Needs can often be found unloading food donations and serving hot meals in the Soup Kitchen, Jerry Morgan is also a leader in local advocacy efforts to raise awareness of the nutritional needs of low income families. Mr. Morgan’s dedication to eliminating hunger is a personal one, “I find it unacceptable that one in six Americans and 1 in 4 children are currently experiencing food insecurity. In our country, no parent, child, veteran or homeless resident should have to go to bed hungry.”
Interfaith applauds the commitment of the City of Escondido for declaring September as Hunger Action Month. Interfaith looks forward to collaborating with the Hunger Advocacy Network and the City of Escondido to build support for efforts to end hunger and increase access to healthy and nutritious foods.
Interfaith receives mini-grant from San Marcos Community Foundation to help seniors in need live independently
Interfaith’s effort to help seniors in San Marcos got a boost recently thanks to a $1,500 mini-grant awarded by the San Marcos Community Foundation.
The grant will help provide low-income San Marcos seniors with the assistance they need to live independently, remaining in their homes as long as possible. It also provides flexibility for individual assessments and case management for San Marcos seniors in need of emergency financial assistance and/or minor home repairs.
Interfaith’s senior emergency fund granted temporary financial assistance to 19 seniors in crisis over the past year, three of them in San Marcos. Another 225 minor home repairs, 53 in San Marcos, helped to allow aging residents to remain safely in their homes.
Emergency funds allocated by Interfaith have helped assist a homeless woman pay her first month’s rent and security deposit, allowing her to move into an apartment. Another senior received help with her phone bill and medical insurance payments after a financial scam cost her $8,000. These kinds of assistance can often make a major impact in the life of seniors who are struggling to get by.
Minor home repairs performed for seniors include building access ramps, installing grab bars, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, minor plumbing and electrical work and installation of window screens.
Interfaith is grateful for the generosity of the San Marcos Senior Foundation! We couldn’t possibly provide for seniors in need without the help of community partners like SMCF.