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Turning Lives Around with One Act of Kindness San Diego

How local nonprofits are helping transition San Diego’s homeless




Sherry and her dog, Snickers | Photo courtesy of Alpha Project

Finding a solution to homelessness is a hot topic in San Diego. During the last point-in-time count, volunteers tallied more than 5,600 San Diegans living on city streets or in shelters and thousands more spread out through the region. While we often hear talk about how to help the homeless, we don’t always have a clear picture of who the homeless are. We recently asked Father Joe’s Villages and Alpha Project to tell us about the families and individuals they’ve been able to help. These are their stories. If you'd like to help, learn more about 1AOKSD here.

Father Joe’s Villages’ Bridge Shelter just welcomed it’s youngest client, a 10-month-old girl. This lucky girl and her family are off the streets and now have access to specialized resources for families with babies, like therapeutic childcare, mommy/daddy & me classes, parenting classes, breastfeeding support, a stroller giveaway program, and more. Outside the East Village Bridge Shelter, a new playground and recreation area allow the 29 families currently living in the shelter a safe, secure, and fun space away from the stress and anxiety homelessness creates.

After Sherry Sandvick moved to San Diego in 2017, she was diagnosed with tumors in her feet and other medical issues that prevented her from obtaining employment. At first, she and her dog Snickers were able to stay in their car at the Dreams For Change safe parking lot. But an accident sent Sandvick to Sharp Memorial Hospital and left her car totaled. After being released, she and Snickers were able to stay in a friend’s car for a couple weeks but then found themselves back on the street. The pair were finally given a spot in Alpha Project's temporary bridge shelter program. Since arriving at the shelter, Sandvick has worked closely with Alpha Project Housing Navigators and was able to secure a room in a beautiful three-bedroom house with a fenced in front yard for Snickers to play in.

Yazmin Santoyo fled a domestic violence situation Oakland with her two small boys and came to San Diego. She stayed with a family member for a short time, bounced back and forth from Tijuana, where her mother lives, then entered the San Diego Rescue Mission. After visiting her ill mother one day she did not make it back to the shelter in time for curfew and found herself on the streets. The campsite Alpha Project operates welcomed Santoyo and connected her with resources for social services and housing. Alpha Project Housing Navigators were able to place Santoyo and her sons, Juan and Jacob, in a lovely apartment in North Park. Alpha Project’s Case Managers will continue to help Santoyo with employment assistance, support, child care, and other services beneficial to stabilization and self-sufficiency.

These stories represent only a small fraction of the people that are transitioning off the streets with the help of local nonprofits.


This series is produced in partnership on behalf of the Lucky Duck Foundation which, together with IAOKSD, Alpha Project, Father Joe's Villages, and Veterans Villages, is raising money and awareness to help fight homelessness in San Diego. To see how you can help, click here.

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