Living downtown, every day I see many people on the streets of San Diego who are homeless. When I take my “cool pics” I often consciously or unconsciously aim my camera lens away from less pleasant images. But the reality is, there are many urban neighbors who are in a desperate life situation. Whatever their story is, they need our help and compassion.
I’ve been walking throughout downtown for about 14 years now, and it has been a ritual of mine to reward street performers with a bit of money as I wander about. A fair number of these performers are homeless, or very needy. It just seems like a positive thing to do. When I talk a bit and get to know those who are homeless better, I realize that most are not so different than me, or anyone else. Life at times presents us all with extraordinary, seemingly impossible difficulties. A helping hand is appreciated.
If you’ve thought of providing a helping hand to the homeless, or those at risk for homelessness, here’s a list of organizations in San Diego that could use your assistance. Check each website for opportunities to volunteer or provide a donation. Forgive me if I’ve overlooked anyone. If you can think of additions to this list, leave a comment!
Several years after I published my list, I noticed that a couple of these organizations had vanished. But I’ve decided to leave those links up anyway. In the hope they come back!
Alpha Project provides the homeless with affordable housing, substance abuse treatment, basic and emergency services, transportation assistance, mental health counseling, employment training and placement, emergency shelter and more.
Urban Angels‘ mission is to nourish and provide food for the homeless of San Diego. They run the kitchen at Connections Housing, a new, state-of-the-art homeless facility.
San Diego Rescue Mission provides shelter, food, education, work training, rehabilitation and long-term care programs for the homeless.
StandUP for Kids provides assistance to homeless and at-risk youth throughout San Diego County.
Veterans Village provides homeless veterans with a safe place to live, care for Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, help in overcoming addiction, and employment assistance.
The Salvation Army serves the homeless, low income individuals, and those facing difficult life challenges. Volunteers serve the homeless downtown with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.
Father Joe’s Villages is the largest one-stop center in the region offering housing and services for the homeless. They help families with children, single women, and single men including chronically homeless individuals, veterans and people living with addiction and/or mental illness.
Purchase art created by homeless people in San Diego. The price you pay goes entirely to the homeless artist!
Monarch School‘s mission is to educate students impacted by homelessness and to help them develop hope for the future with the necessary skills and experiences for personal success.
San Diego Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in San Diego County.
1st Saturdays are ordinary San Diegans who collect money, clothes, bedding, and other items that help those in need, to be distributed the first Saturday of every month.
Just Call Us Volunteers collaborates with other non-profits to serve free healthy meals in San Diego and teach cooking using fresh and nutritious ingredients.
Catholic Charities provides a safe, supportive, sober environment and opportunities for those with few or no resources to gather, begin, and continue self-help efforts.
PATH is a family of agencies working together to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities throughout Southern California.
Downtown San Diego Partnership is a leading partner towards the campaign to end homelessness in downtown San Diego.
Family Health Centers of San Diego is dedicated to providing healthcare services to medically underserved persons, including homeless children and adults.
YWCA has programs that support victims of domestic violence and homeless women in their journey from homelessness to stable housing.
United Way of San Diego County focuses on education, financial self-sufficiency, health and homeless prevention.
Regional Task Force on the Homeless conducts a physical count of the homeless in San Diego. They can always use more volunteers for the annual census. Information gathered during WeAllCount helps determine which services and programs can do the most good.
Wheels of Change provides employment for homeless people who are staying in shelters. Those who’d like to participate earn wages for work cleaning up communities–picking up trash, pulling weeds, etc. The program would appreciate your help.