Interfaith Community Services celebrated the grand opening of the new Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center yesterday with a ceremonial ribbon cutting, flag raising, tours of the facility and a presentation of commemorative bricks to vital donors and volunteers. With nearly 200 community members, city officials, staff, volunteers, donors and more in attendance, Interfaith officially opened the doors the new facility, which will house 20 homeless veterans and 12 homeless non-veterans exiting local hospitals.
A former medical office building, the renovation of the Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center began in early February 2015 and was a $3.2 million project, the majority of which was funded through gifts and in-kind donations. While Interfaith will begin moving in clients towards the end of this month, the organization is still seeking $650,000 in support to put the finishing touches on the building.
Home to Interfaith’s Recuperative Care Program, the Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center will play a major role in the organization’s goal of ending homelessness in North San Diego County. With the ability to help homeless veterans and non-veterans recover from physical and mental illnesses with a roof over their heads instead of on the streets, Interfaith is making it’s mission of helping people help themselves a reality for many in the community seeking to gain self-sufficiency and stability.
Interfaith is excited to welcome Micki Hickox to Interfaith Community Services as the new Volunteer Coordinator!
Prior to joining Interfaith, Micki served in the non-profit sector for many years, most recently with the City of Escondido’s Older Adult Services Department where she was responsible for developing, planning, coordinating and supervising senior programs and services. Prior to her work with the City, Micki was a Non-Profit Consultant from Event Innovations Inc. and was the Director of Volunteer Services for the Escondido Humane Society.
Today, as Interfaith’s Volunteer Coordinator, Micki is responsible for recruiting, training and managing all of Interfaith’s volunteers. She works closely with program staff to determine their volunteer needs, actively seeks out new opportunities throughout the organization and is a friendly face for all volunteers graciously donating their time to Interfaith. We are excited to see how she will grow our Volunteer Services Department and are extremely lucky to have her!
A native to Brooklyn, New York, Jemel was enlisted in the Marine Corps for four years where he served as an aviation operations specialist. After traveling around the world with the Marines, he decided to return home to take care of his mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition to the stress of helping his mother through her illness, Jemel also went through a divorce and lost custody of his daughter, causing him to spiral into depression.
“I couldn’t maintain a job, was getting sick, and lost my home,” said Jemel. “But I always tried to keep a positive outlook no matter how bad it got.”
After nearly 4 ½ years on the street, bouncing around San Diego County with only three bags to his name and working odd jobs for weeks at a time, Jemel ended up at the tent shelter in Point Loma, a place for homeless veterans to sleep during the coldest months of the year. It was there, during the last two weeks of the tent being open for the season, that Jemel met a representative from Interfaith Community Services who encouraged him to come to the Oceanside office and get placed into housing.
“I was so tired, I wasn’t sleeping, and I didn’t even know how to get to Oceanside,” said Jemel. “But I packed up my bags and made the trip. I didn’t know where I was going to sleep that night, but I felt like being there was going to get me one step closer to getting back on my feet.”
During the next few days, Jemel met with several representatives from Interfaith’s veterans department and it was then that he says his life completely changed.
“When I sat down in the meeting and they handed me over keys, I was stunned. It hadn’t hit me yet that these were keys to my own apartment,” said Jemel. “I just stared at them; that whole morning I was wondering where I was going to sleep that night, and suddenly I had my own place. It was a shock and a blessing.”
Today, Jemel is settled into his apartment in Oceanside and has begun cooking for other veteran residents in his program. Through his cooking, Jemel hopes to show veterans that healthy, affordable meals are within their reach and that eating good food can change their health, attitudes, and lifestyles. He also is eager to begin classes to get his guard card and begin working in security.
“Everything I do, I do for my daughter,” said Jemel. “I didn’t think there was anyone out there that could help me, but then Interfaith found me. I really hope more veterans will know this place exists because it truly changed my life.”
Interfaith Community Services is excited to invite you to the Grand Opening of the Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center! This 10,000 square feet facility at 250 N. Ash Street in Escondido will serve both homeless veterans and non-veterans post-hospitalization for a variety of physical and/or mental conditions. In addition, this new center will provide a full range of self-sufficiency services to veterans and families.
Join Interfaith in celebrating the grand opening of this unique facility! Included in the program will be a ceremonial flag raised and ribbon cutting, testimonials from former Interfaith clients, tours of the center, and recognition of major donors.
Refreshments will be served.
When: Wednesday, October 7th 2015, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Where: Hawthorne Veteran and Family Resource Center, 250 N. Ash St., Escondido, CA 92027
Parking:Street parking only
R.S.V.P. by clicking here or calling Lauren Holt at (760) 489-6380 ext. 258
America is privileged to field the best-trained military force in the world. However, some veterans find their skills don’t immediately transfer to a civilian job market. Others face severe challenges adjusting to civilian life, and many are coping with the debilitating effects of injuries and disabilities as a consequence of multiple deployments in combat zones.
As a result, many veterans fall into post-battlefield trauma, unemployment, homelessness, and substance abuse. Interfaith’s veterans department has one simple purpose: To return our nation’s heroes to the honor and dignity of a healthy, stable, and productive life.
After six years in the Army, including a yearlong deployment in Iraq, Justin returned home to Pennsylvania and enlisted in the Marine Corps. It was with the Marines that he eventually moved out to San Diego and was stationed at Camp Pendleton. Upon returning home from six months in Japan with the Marines, Justin decided to honorably discharge from the military.
“I came home to my daughter saying ‘Daddy, please don’t go back,’ and what could I do?” said Justin. “At the end of the day, I just wanted to stay in San Diego for my daughter and make it work.”
After settling back into civilian life in Oceanside, Justin tried to juggle going back to school at Mira Costa College to earn his degree in law enforcement with finding a part-time job. However, when he couldn’t get hired, Justin quickly found himself behind on bills and with an eviction notice for his apartment. While researching non-profits and veterans organizations in San Diego, Justin came across Interfaith.
“I saw the website, called, and came in for an appointment two days later,” said Justin. “This place has just helped me so much. Interfaith has given me everything I needed.”
After being set up with a case manager, Justin was moved into one of Interfaith’s veterans apartments, in addition to provided with gas cards to fill up his car, clothing vouchers and was even sent, at no cost to him, to receive his security guard card. Today, Justin works full-time as a security guard and as of two weeks ago, has graduated from his program and has moved into his own apartment in Vista that he’s decorated thanks to a furniture voucher from Interfaith.
“It took me longer than I thought it would, but I’m in a good place now thanks to Interfaith,” said Justin. “It’s just so great to have your own place again. Now, I can have my daughter come stay with me.”
Interfaith Community Services is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit social services agency. For information on how you can contribute to the organization with either monetary gifts, in-kind donations, or through volunteer work, please contact Interfaith’s Chief Development Officer, Robert Adams, at email@example.com or by calling (760) 489-6380 ext. 206.