News & Success Stories

Recognized Partners across San Diego County are the driving force behind the strength, reach and impact of the Live Well San Diego vision. Read their inspiring success stories below.

Revitalizing Community: Casa Familiar’s Bridge Cleanup Initiative in San Ysidro

Post Date:02/21/2024 3:17 PM

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San Ysidro, California, a predominantly Latino community (94%), is characterized by its youthful population, boasting around 3,850 households with children and 27% of residents under the age of 18 (data from the American Community Survey 2020 and Despite its rich cultural roots, the community faces economic challenges, with a median household income 56% lower than that of the City of San Diego, and 20% of the population living below the poverty line.

The deteriorating state of a pedestrian bridge near Willow Elementary School has become a significant health concern, marked by graffiti, criminal activities, and litter. This bridge, abandoned by community members due to safety and sanitation issues, has prompted families to take longer routes to avoid using it.

In response, Casa Familiar launched a Resident Leadership Academy (RLA) community improvement project to help improve the well-being of the community, particularly its youth, and set a precedent for active neighborhood care by future generations.

In April 2023, Casa Familiar received a $2,200 grant from the County of San Diego and Community Health Improvement Partners. This grant played a crucial role in enabling Casa Familiar to organize two cleanup events for the community improvement project. The funding had a significant impact, allowing for the purchase of essential items to ensure the safety and effectiveness of these cleanup activities. Thanks to the grant, Casa Familiar was able to purchase the necessary equipment, including trash pickers, durable trash bags, trash containers, brooms, gloves, face masks, containers for hazardous waste, and more.

The primary focus of the project was to rejuvenate the pedestrian bridge over the 5 Freeway between Willow Road and Calle Primera Street in San Ysidro. Residents from the Resident Leadership Academy took the lead as part of their community improvement project, emphasizing aesthetics improvement and regular maintenance.

Two community cleanup events occurred, one on June 22 and the other on November 18, 2023 to align with student availability. Each cleanup event involved over thirty dedicated volunteers, including RLA graduates, promotoras, students, and community residents, engaging in activities such as community outreach, waste removal, recycling, and weed control. Over 60 hours of community service was offered to youth and community members.

Beyond enhancing the bridge’s appearance, the project contributed to creating a safer and cleaner environment for the entire community. The positive impacts of the project extended to Willow Elementary and San Ysidro Head Start schools which serve over 2,500 families, as well as nearby mobile homes and apartment complexes which accommodate over 4,000 families. In total, it is estimated that more than 8,000 community members benefited from the project this year.

Projects like these underscore the importance of collaboration and engagement in improving the quality of life for all residents. The community gained valuable skills through this community improvement project which also serves as an inspiring model for younger generations, showing how individuals can unite to make a positive impact on their community. Through this collaboration, individuals and families can now feel safer crossing the Willow Street Pedestrian Bridge to access their schools and workplaces.

Casa Familiar received additional support for this project from various organizations, including The Office of Council Member Vivian Moreno, Institute for Public Strategies, San Ysidro Summer Camp, San Diego Police Department, Casa Familiar Youth Services, and Casa Familiar's Environmental Justice Department. 


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