TYA graduate says ‘thanks’ for the help

Vu Nguyen, a case manager for the Transitional Youth Academy, recently received a heartfelt thank-you note from one of the program’s graduates, Jordan Smith.

The class of 2012 graduate from Oceanside High School emailed Nguyen to report that he is working hard to keep his grades up at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He also noted that his spring football practice “went great,” and that he was looking forward to the upcoming season.

For that, he wanted to thank Nguyen and the staff of the TYA and Working Pirates programs who helped to steer him in the right direction when he repeatedly got into trouble at school.

“Entering Oceanside High my freshman year (thanks to Interfaith), you were right there to keep me out of trouble,” Smith wrote to Nguyen. “Thanks to you, TYA and Working Pirates, I was able to get a job. The job was more than making money, it was about keeping me off the streets and out of trouble. It gave me a chance to focus on what I loved, football.”

Smith thanked Nguyen for helping him to become the best student he could be and for instilling in him the ethic of working hard for what he wants.

“I will never forget when I went to your office first day of my junior year telling you to switch me out of pre-calculus and you said, ‘You better suck it up and push through it,’ and ‘nothing good in life comes easy,’ ” wrote Smith. “Although I did not understand it at the time, what you said was not about the math class. What you said was about life.

“Nothing good in life is going to be earned easy,” Smith continued. “If it was easy, everyone would do it. That is why I am here writing this thank-you letter from my desk at West Point. Every time I want to give up, I hear you voice in the back of my head saying to ‘Keep fighting, and it will pay off one day.’ ”

To follow Smith’s progress, look for No. 53 on the Army defensive line during the upcoming football season.

Have an old car you no longer need? Donate it to Interfaith!

Have an old car you no longer need? Now you can donate it to Interfaith! We make the donation process incredibly easy by taking care of the towing and providing you with a receipt. You may even get a tax deduction! Click here to watch a quick video on our special car donation website.

Why donate? 

  • Avoid the hassles of selling a car
  • No need to pay hefty repair bills
  • Free up space in your garage
  • 100% tax deductible

Making a donation is EASY! 

It’s as easy as filling out the online donation form or picking up a phone and speaking to a live operator.

If you have any questions just call one of our friendly operators toll-free at 877-GIVE-123 or 877-448-3123 seven days a week.

  • Donate your car or truck
  • Donate your boat
  • Donate your motor home
  • Donate your motorcycle
We accept all kinds of vehicles. Your donation is greatly appreciated!

Valley View Ranch area residents organize food and hygiene supply drive for July 26

Members of the “Together We Can” club have arranged with the Valley View Ranch Home Owners Association in Valley Center to conduct a combination food and hygiene kit drive on Saturday, July 26th from 9:00 AM until noon at the corner of Mirar de Valle Road and Red Ironbark Drive. All the items collected will directly benefit Interfaith’s clients.
The efforts, led by Interfaith Board member Tim Sharon and his neighbor, Lorie Culp, are greatly appreciated and vital to our Food and Basic Needs program during summer months when food donations are lower than normal. If you’d like to donate to the drive, we are in need of the items listed below:
Food Items:
  • Dried pasta
  • Canned chili
  • Canned beans (not green)
  • Hearty soup
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned fruit
  • Canned pasta meals
  • Mac & cheese
Hygiene Kit Items:
  • Bar of soap
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
  • Deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Razor, shaving cream, wash cloth
  • Feminine hygiene products

Once homeless veteran now seeks to take flight

Michael Davis, 57, was flying high at one time. While in the Air Force, he was an avionics technician on the then-new F-15 fighter. After leaving the Air Force, he worked with a defense contractor, occasionally crossing paths with top military officials.

But it was a job much closer to the ground that began a downward spiral of depression and homelessness.

While driving a semi-truck, Davis lost control and rolled, sustaining injuries to his upper and lower back, his shoulder, and breastbone. Insurance and workman’s compensation questioned his injuries, Davis said. “One doctor said everything was fake. Every other doctor said it was real, but the insurance company took that one doctor’s opinion,” Davis said. “They wouldn’t pay support. I ended up on the street.” Davis was homeless five times over the next 10 years, moving through Portland, Phoenix and San Diego. At one point, things were so bad that Michael considered suicide.

Recognizing he needed help, Davis contacted Interfaith, which found him a spot at Merle’s Place, a transitional housing program for veteran. “I needed a safe place to work on my issues. You can’t do it on the street,” said Davis.

Interfaith helped Davis determine his eligibility for Veterans Retraining funds and military service partial disability. Those resources allowed Davis to begin taking classes at Palomar College and move into an apartment with a roommate after three months in Merle’s Place.

While going to school, studying internet marketing, Davis patches together a variety of jobs to keep himself afloat. His most successful gig now is driving for Uber, a taxi-like company that arranges appointments and payment through smartphones. Davis drives a 2014 Prius, obtained through an Uber program, and working a 40-hour week. Uber allows its drivers to work as much as they want, while providing supplemental commercial insurance.

Davis looks back to the assistance he received from Interfaith as a catalyst for his success.

“Interfaith was the stepping stone. It gave me the ability to reprogram my thinking patterns so I could get out of my depression,” he said. “Interfaith was the last step I needed in my recovery. Since I left, life has been great.”

Interfaith receives new round of local and federal grants to help homeless veterans

Interfaith Community Services is the recipient of a $20,000 grant from the office of San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn to bolster technology at its veterans services center in Oceanside.

The money will be used to purchase laptop computers and monitors for use by veterans at the agency’s new office in the Veterans Assistance of North County facility at 1617 Mission Ave.

“We’ve been looking for funds to outfit a computer lab. This will get that started,” said Dean Dauphinais, director of veterans services for Veterans Assistance of San Diego, a division of Interfaith Community Services. “Having good equipment is essential for veterans to conduct Internet searches for jobs, housing, training, and all we do to help veterans achieve self-sufficiency.”

The Neighborhood Reinvestment Funds grant from Horn’s office will also allow the department to add video conferencing capability.

“This is great news. Technology changes so fast, and we don’t always have money in the budget to replace it,” said Dauphinais. “This helps us buy things we need. … Bill Horn is a big supporter of veterans, and we will use the money to provide them with the help they need to get back on their feet.”

The grant is the second piece of good news for Interfaith’s veterans department, which recently was informed that it was awarded the first option years of two other grants totaling $450,000 to assist veterans in receiving needed training to pursue civilian careers.

The grants include $300,000 for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Project and $150,000 for the Homeless Female Veterans and Veterans with Families program. The programs help veterans upgrade their job skills, while providing career counseling, assistance with life skills and help in finding housing.