By Rick Batt, Executive Director & Christine Carrick, Board Chair
As Interfaith works to serve the hungry, homeless, and poor in our communities, partnerships have become even more key to affecting lasting change amid the ongoing difficulties of a lackluster economy.
Interfaith was built by partnerships – and that tradition continues stronger than ever. We assisted 23,230 people last year with food, shelter, housing, employment assistance, and case management, and were only able to do so through partnerships with 314 member congregations, thousands of generous donors and volunteers, and in collabora- tion with dozens of schools, businesses, and government agencies.
This year we’ve met challenges and welcomed opportunities. Few challenges were tougher than the relocation of our addiction recovery program, which resulted in the suspension of our sobering service. However, as a result, a strong relationship has emerged with Tri-City Medical Center, and together we’re looking for opportunities to re-open this much-needed program in a more effective location.
Through such partnerships, Interfaith will build an even more comprehensive network of partnerships to help people across North San Diego County get back on their feet for good.
Yet our most vital partnerships are with individuals like you, who give time, abilities, and resources to help the men, women, and children who come desperately to our door for a hot meal, a warm bed, and a comforting word. It’s this generosity of spirit that empowers our clients to overcome challenges most of us could never imagine, and pursue the opportunities many of us have come to take for granted. For that, we humbly thank each one of you.Comment on this Article
Cuts by government agencies, foundations and other funding sources have left providers scrambling to assure they’ll have the resources they need to house and to assist the hundreds of homeless individuals expected to use the shelters this winter. The six programs in the system, overseen by the Alliance for Regional Solutions, housed 480 people last year.
“Funding for each of the individual shelters that are part of the Alliance system comes from the Alliance as a whole. They allocate dollars to individual shelters,” said Craig Jones, associate director for Interfaith Community Services. ICS operates Haven House, one of the shelters in the network.
“In previous years, we got $36,864. This year it’s $29,250. Seven thousand dollars worth of cuts is significant,” Jones stated.
Still, the providers in the shelter network are determined to carry on their programs to perform the critical task of keeping North County’s homeless off the street during the colder winter months.
The need for the shelters is great, providers point out. The annual Point-in-Time count coordinated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, conducted in January 2013, found nearly 1,800 homeless individuals in North County, which includes people in shelters and temporary housing. Previous counts suggest that more than one-third of those homeless are unsheltered, some 600-plus.
“What that illustrates is that the available capacity for sheltering the homeless during the winter season still falls far short of the number needing shelter. We don’t have nearly the available beds or room capacity for the homeless to satisfy the need,” said Jones.
“That reality is recognized in the ongoing process to develop a plan to end homelessness in North County. There are some general provisions in the current draft of the plan to meet those needs,” he added. “We need hundreds of additional beds to meet the needs. That’s not going to happen overnight.”
Developing a plan to end homelessness in North County is an effort spearheaded by Richard Batt, chief executive officer of Interfaith Community Services, through a steering committee comprised of public officials, professionals from health-care, law enforcement and social services agencies.
The committee began this summer to develop a plan with the goals of identifying homeless individuals in North County and creating an improved system of services, more supporting infrastructure and housing capacity, and accountability to measure success of the plan.
There is only so much that the winter shelter network can accomplish to reduce the number of homeless in North County, admitted Jones.
“By nature, it is an extremely limited resource. People are just there overnight. We stretch to do engagement and case management to remove the barriers for the chronically homeless,” he said. “We have had a remarkable success rate as shown in the statistics in moving the chronic homeless into a better living situation at the end of the shelter season.”
A report prepared by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless showed that 31 percent of the 480 people who spent a day or more in one of the Alliance shelters during the winter of 2012-13 were stably housed when they left. Another 40 percent found some kind of temporary shelter.
Interfaith’s Haven House will continue to offer 40 beds, some for women, at its Escondido site.
The wish of all the providers is to be able to do more.
If you would like to volunteer to help one of the many area shelters this winter, please contact us at (760) 489-6380.
Interfaith’s Veterans Assistance of San Diego (VASD) continues to work hard to help local struggling veterans get back on their feet. But the success VASD has seen equally reflects the perseverance and determination of the clients in the program, say program managers.
Recently, three renewable grants from the Department of Labor have helped equip veterans clients in their effort to get back to work. The grants are a strong vote of confidence in the program by Federal agencies, says program manager Marinea Goodsen. “We bring a lot of experience to the table,” said Goodson, “and that enables us to provide our clients with effective guidance.”
Steven Mason (pictured here), a Navy veteran and VASD employment services client, echoes Goodson’s strong positive outlook on the program. “It’s a blessing. Instead of an individual trying to get somewhere by themselves, you have a whole group involved. That creates access to more resources, more energy, and more possibilities,” said Mason, referring to program staff support and guidance as clients pursue vocational training and job placement.
With funding support from VASD employment services, Mason is completing training for two high-caliber Cisco Systems technology certificates. Programs like this empower individual vets like Mason to go out and get the re-training they need to enter the workforce with confidence.
The same goes for veterans with families, especially single parents such as Samantha Morales.
For Morales – an Army veteran and a single mother of one-year-old and three-year-old daughters – the VASD program led to a full-time security guard job. “If it wasn’t for the opportunity I got, I wouldn’t have been able to do that,” Morales, 26, said of her involvement in the program.
Despite these successes, there is still plenty of work to do and plenty of resources missing that would make these programs even more successful. VASD is on the lookout for more funding to help Veterans fill the gap for rental assistance, car repairs, and other needs that aren’t covered by grant funds.
In addition, VASD and other Interfaith employment programs are constantly searching for businesses willing to help veterans learn marketable skills.
If you, or someone you know can help, call Craig Jones at (760) 489-6380 today.Comment on this Article
Did you know today is Giving Tuesday? This is the day that has been designated as a day of charity after all the shopping that happens on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Today, you can make a difference in the lives of the more than 23,000 people we serve every year by giving to ensure our vital services for the hungry, homeless, and poor in North San Diego County.
Watch this 90 second video to learn more, then please click the Donate button above to make a gift today!
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One of Interfaith’s member congregations, Grace North County, has put together a “Big Give” event for Saturday, December 7th from 1pm to 4pm at their campus in Oceanside, California. Everything will be free! Here’s a quick description from their website:
“The Big Give is one way that we can help those in need in North County. On one day in December, we will host an event for people in need to come and get gently used clothing, food and some fun all for FREE, no strings attached!
Want to donate gently used clothing? Do you want to serve at The Big Give? Find out how you can get involved in this community outreach!”
For more details, click here to visit their website.
Our thanks to Grace North County for working so hard to help people in need!Comment on this Article