When residents invest in the wellbeing of their neighbors and communities, they spread hope and achieve a greater purpose. From addressing food insecurity through food waste diversion to arts programs that share culture and artistic expression, local organizations are creating safe spaces for residents to serve, learn and connect. Veterans, students, older adults and people with disabilities are finding services that increase independence and inclusion. Together, partners in the community are creating a culture of connectedness that is positively impacting the Live Well San Diego Indicators for Vulnerable Populations and Community Involvement.
The City of National City has been making efforts to address food insecurity in neighborhoods throughout the city, and many stakeholders, including local residents, came together to address these goals by transforming a community space through a Market Makeover event led by A Reason to Survive (ARTS) and the Center for Regional Sustainability at San Diego State University.
San Diego OASIS promotes healthy aging through lifelong learning, healthy living, social engagement, community involvement and their array of free educational classes - from the arts and humanities to wellness, fitness and travel.
SUCCESS STORIES INFLUENCING SOCIAL
The San Diego Hunger Coalition, whose members include multiple Recognized Partners, worked together to increase access to CalFresh (SNAP) benefits, resulting in an additional 3,303 households and 5,496 low-income college students receiving CalFresh benefits.
The County of San Diego, International Rescue Committee, The Karen Organization, Daily Harvest Express and the YMCA of San Diego County, collaborated with the San Diego Refugee Forum to organize the 2018 World Refugee Day hosting over 300 participants and celebrating the diversity of cultures and customs of the local refugee population.
Poway OnStage is deeply committed to an extensive Arts in Education Initiative that serves nearly 5,000 students each year through a 21-year-old collaboration with the Poway Unified School District, most of whose schools are located within the City of San Diego, providing musical theater camps, in-school drama workshops, introduction to instruments and performing arts master classes.
Mental Health Systems’ Courage to Call offered healthy fruits and vegetables to approximately 4,800 military service members, veterans and their families which would not be possible without the help of roughly 280 community volunteers that have donated over 900 hours of their time to support ongoing food distributions.
YMCA of San Diego County’s Kinship Support Program annually partners with 2-1-1 San Diego and the County of San Diego to host free Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Relative Caregiver Symposiums throughout the year which served nearly 750 grandparents and other kinship families from all regions of the county.
MAKING IMPACT PERSONAL
Barbara lives in the College Area, and she has been receiving monthly food assistance from the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank at a food distribution center in the City of La Mesa. Barbara stands in line behind another senior citizen, Carol, who explains the situation many seniors face.
“It’s so tough getting by. Our first priority is rent, then medication, then utilities. Food is always the last priority,” explains Carol.
Every month, more than 10,000 seniors living near the poverty level receive food assistance from the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. In many cases, the food they receive prevents these seniors from facing hunger at home.
“I don’t know what I would do without the food that I get from the Food Bank every month. I would just like to thank the Food Bank’s donors. This is a godsend for us here today,” says Barbara as she takes food to her car.
“I believe that children deserve the very best we have to give and my passion for working with children and families runs deep. Knowing that I am actually making a difference helping parents understand the value of spending time nurturing their children through respectful, responsive care-giving is what inspires me.”
French spends a typical day helping parents set goals and teaching them a variety of skills in a variety of locations—the park, library or even at stores, which can often be a challenge to navigate with a child.
“I model for parents through play and thoughtful conversation to show them what respectful engaging interactions with children look like,” explains French. “I also spend part of my days coordinating visit schedules with parents, the transportation company, caregivers, kids and social workers. And a portion of my day is spent in the office to prep activities to bring to visits, such as art and craft projects or specific games and materials to help parents engage with their children.
One of her most memorable experiences she had with a client was working with a “tough biker dad” as he ditched his rough exterior and became the loving, kind, soft and compassionate father his baby needed him to be.
“It was very rewarding. I will always remember this client’s transformation and enjoy hearing from him from time to time letting me know how well they are doing.”
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