Having enough resources to live comfortably and thrive requires the ability to acquire a sustainable job and attain affordable housing. Personal barriers and challenging life experiences can sometimes set individuals and families further away from achieving their best quality of life. When people are in need and facing difficult circumstances, many organizations are stepping up to help individuals and families become self-sufficient, financially literate and thriving members of the community. Efforts in each of these areas are having a positive impact on the Live Well San Diego Unemployment Rate and Income Indicators by increasing the number of people who spend less than one-third of their income on housing and maintaining a low unemployment rate in San Diego County.
Paving Great Futures new GEWELS (Guiding Empowering Women Entrepreneur Leaders for Success) program is geared towards teaching women who are looking to establish or enhance a consistent source of income to become entrepreneurs through the administration profession.
San Diego Financial Literacy Center's Boost for Our Heroes Financial Education Program trains active military and veterans to become financially stable through workshops and one-on-one consultations, with a special $3,000 boost award given to a hero who has completed the educational program.
SUCCESS STORIES INFLUENCING STANDARD OF LIVING
Nearly 600 of San Diego’s business leaders gathered for the South County Economic Development Council’s 28th Annual Economic Summit, including the Port of San Diego, SANDAG, San Diego Workforce Partnership, the City of National City and the County of San Diego to discuss the opportunities the South Bay holds to providing affordable housing and sustainable employment options for the future of San Diego County.
The City of Carlsbad City Council awarded $565,819 in federal grants to local public service organizations, including Catholic Charities, Community Resource Center, Interfaith Community Services, Meals-on-Wheels, Casa De Amparo and Legal Aid Society to help low-income homeless residents and to improve public facilities and fair housing services.
MAKING IMPACT PERSONAL
Jerome came into the Gary and Mary West Foundation Senior Wellness Center and met with Serving Seniors’ Supportive Services team. He was so inspired by the work being done, he started volunteering for the organization while waiting to be moved into transitional housing.
Eventually, a temporary unit at the Sara Frances Hometel opened up, where Jerome lived for several months before he was offered yet another new beginning: a permanent home at Serving Seniors’ Potiker Family Senior Residence in East Village.
Jerome has enjoyed living at Potiker. He is grateful not just to have a safe and affordable place to call home, with rent that is far below what he would pay on his own, but also to have access to on-site meals, social workers, nurses, and a community of friends and peers he can rely on.
Transitional housing is not the only service Serving Seniors provides for homeless and low-income seniors. Their comprehensive wraparound services include nutritious congregate and home-delivered meals, nurse case management, health education, lifelong learning and enrichment, social services, and permanent supportive housing. They work at nine sites across San Diego County, including the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center and two affordable senior housing complexes. Each year, Serving Seniors provides life-saving programs to nearly 5,000 seniors in San Diego County.
The 100 students in Kitchens for Good's 12-week culinary apprenticeship program don't have the kind of prior work experience or resumes you'd expect to find in a culinary school. Many of them don't have resumes at all—except those on file at police stations and jails around the country. But in Kitchen for Good's San Diego-based Project Launch program, a criminal record doesn't matter: all that matters is a desire to stay clean, hold down a job and help the nonprofit tackle issues of food waste, hunger and poverty in the community.
"Once you're in the system, it's hard to get out of it. It's a revolving door," says James Sperry, a graduate of the program. "It was so hard for me to find a job, because my background would kill any chance I had. And that's what would lead me back to selling drugs, because it's a quick buck and I had to support myself."
It was the same for fellow graduate Melinda Rodriguez, who was in and out of prison for a decade due to her drug addiction.
"I've been to job interviews where, as soon as you tell them you've been incarcerated, that's it: interview over," she says. "They look down on us. They think of us as someone they don't want to take a chance on."
Arrollando is now a manager at a restaurant; Melinda Rodriguez is a sous chef at a tapas bar; James Sperry is a sous chef at a popular tavern.
"Kitchens for Good was a place where I was able to become something," Rodriguez says. "It gave me self-confidence and motivation. I was able to redefine who I am today."
Fifty-nine seniors with ongoing medical problems will be saved from homelessness as they move into a new Talmadge complex supported by St. Paul’s Senior Services.
“It’s awesome,” said Michael Pastore, 63, who moved into one of the Talmadge Gateway units. “They gave us everything. Refrigerator, coffee maker, toaster, full-burner stove, sink with a garbage disposal and microwave.”
Best yet, it’s a permanent home for Pastore, and a step up from the downtown temporary housing he had called home for the past year and a half.
Talmadge Gateway is one of eight projects that are part of the San Diego Housing Commission’s $29.8 million homeless action plan Housing First — San Diego, which was launched in 2014 to create 407 permanent supportive housing units for homeless San Diegans.
Pastore, a former brick layer, said he wasn’t able to walk two years ago, and in 2012 he was diagnosed with arthritis in his back and a compressed disc. After a stint in the San Diego Rescue Mission, he was staying at Connections Housing downtown about five months ago when he got a call asking if he’d be interested in his own place. “This is perfect,’ he said. “It’s a blessing. And I don’t have to share my shower anymore.”
As someone who loves to cook, Pastore said one of the best improvements to his life has been getting his cookbooks out of storage and having his own oven and stove. “I watch cooking shows all the time,” he said. “Those are my cookbooks up there. The best part of my day is at night, making a nice meal, and getting to just sit and relax.”
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