The Salvation Army celebrates service in San Diego.

The Salvation Army marching band parades around County of San Diego Waterfront Park.
The Salvation Army marching band parades around County of San Diego Waterfront Park.

Almost everyone recognizes their red shield. Most have walked past their holiday season bell ringers. Many have been helped by their programs and services. The Salvation Army, an important part of our community, is 150 years old.

The local branch of the worldwide organization celebrated that history today in the County of San Diego Waterfront Park. I walked there this morning to see what was going on.

What does the Salvation Army do? In San Diego, their Sierra Del Mar Division provides transitional living for homeless mothers and children. They help the unemployed homeless return to a normal, stable, working life. They have disaster response programs, providing emergency food and help. They provide seniors with nutritional assistance. They help people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. They operate the expansive Ray and Joan Kroc Community Corps Center, which features education, recreation and family support programs. They do a whole lot of good. While The Salvation Army is a Christian organization, everybody is welcome. None are turned away.

As I approached the park, I was surprised and pleased to see a dignified parade coming down the sidewalk…

150 years of community service is being celebrated by The Salvation Army.
150 years of community service is being celebrated by The Salvation Army.
Drums, banners, uniforms and kids stepping proudly down the San Diego sidewalk.
Drums, banners, uniforms and kids stepping proudly down the San Diego sidewalk.
The modest parade ends at the waterfront park, where music, fun and fellowship begin.
The modest parade ends in the waterfront park, where music, fun and fellowship begin.
A speech kicks off the event. The Salvation Army helps the homeless, the poor, the suffering around the world.
A speech kicks off the event. The Salvation Army helps the homeless, the poor, the suffering around the world.
Coffee is served from rear of an emergency disaster services vehicle.
Coffee is served from rear of an emergency disaster services vehicle.
This friendly lady provided some info about the popular Christian charitable organization.
This friendly lady provided some info about the popular Christian charitable organization.
A gathering in the park celebrates 150 years of doing the most good.
A gathering in the park celebrates 150 years of doing the most good.

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Beating cancer with beautiful tile artwork.

HEALTH is written at base of tile mosaic on bench.
HEALTH is written at base of fantastic tile mosaic on bench.

A super long walk yesterday took me past Cancer Survivors Park at Spanish Landing, which is located between Harbor Island and the San Diego International Airport. I first blogged about the inspirational installation of art over a year ago.

The purpose of Cancer Survivors Park is to educate, provide hope and encourage appropriate, prompt medical treatment. A domed structure at one end contains beautiful tile benches designed by artist Marlo Bartels. Each differently colored bench invites restful meditation and is dedicated to a single idea written near the base.

Beautiful dome of San Diego's Cancer Survivors Park contains artistic tiled benches and words of encouragement.
Beautiful dome of San Diego’s Cancer Survivors Park contains artistic tiled benches and words of encouragement.
CELEBRATION
CELEBRATION
THRIVING
THRIVING
LOVE
LOVE
WELLNESS
WELLNESS
HOPE
HOPE
Gazing across grass toward bronze sculpture of people beating cancer through prompt treatment.
Gazing across grassy park toward bronze sculpture of people beating cancer through prompt, appropriate treatment.

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When all seems lost and life feels hopeless.

Sheila's Perfume
One of countless flowers.

When all seems lost and life feels hopeless…

find a purpose.

Find a purpose that is larger than your trouble.

Dedicate each day to that purpose, that great good.

Uplift others. Propagate love. Oppose what is wrong. Discover truth. Create new beauty. Voice what is worthy. Share your gifts. Send ripples of generosity into the future. Do an unselfish thing.

Choose.

Once your purpose is found, think of little else.

You will gain everything.

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A San Diego New Year’s wish: Peace on Earth.

Morning light shines on plaques originally called the San Diego Peace Memorial.
Morning light shines on monument originally called the San Diego Peace Memorial.

A fervent wish for this New Year: May There Be Peace on Earth.

Perhaps it’s futile to expect peaceful human coexistence on this crazy, mixed up planet. It often seems that way. That’s unfortunate. But it would be even more tragic to completely lose hope.

The creators of one poignant local memorial certainly yearned for the end of war. Because they understood war is brutal.

A row of plaques stand on the east side of the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park. Originally called the San Diego Peace Memorial and installed in Old Town in 1969, the silent monument was renamed the Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial in 1996 and moved to this location. It lists all San Diegans who were killed or designated missing in action during the Vietnam War.

Today’s Veterans Museum and Memorial Center is housed in the former chapel of the old San Diego Naval Hospital, which was built during World War II. Throughout the history of mankind, wars have invariably reminded us of the sanctity of peace.

In 2015, May There Be Peace on Earth.

People head into the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.
People head into the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Balboa Park.
Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial was originally located in Old Town.
Vietnam Veterans Peace Memorial was originally located in Old Town.
Small American flags remember those who sacrificed in a difficult war.
Small American flags remember those who sacrificed in a difficult, controversial war.
Names of San Diegans who lost their lives fighting the Vietnam War, 1965-1975.
Names of San Diegans who lost their lives fighting in the Vietnam War, 1965-1975.
Flag flies above Veterans Museum, formerly the San Diego Naval Hospital Chapel.
Flag flies above Veterans Museum, formerly the San Diego Naval Hospital Chapel.

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San Diego breast cancer walkers: the final mile!

Participants in Susan G. Komen three day walk fighting breast cancer.
Participants in Susan G. Komen three day walk fighting breast cancer.

As usual, I ran into an unexpected cool sight during a walk. I was returning home from Balboa Park early this afternoon when I noticed a bunch of people wearing pink lining Park Boulevard. Sure enough! San Diego’s Susan G. Komen three day walk to raise money to fight breast cancer was underway.  It was heading down the homestretch!

I took a bunch of pics as I continued home along the route of the walkers. They had roughly one more mile to go until the finish line at downtown’s Petco Park stadium.

San Diego walkers cheered by pink-wearing supporters on Park Boulevard.
San Diego walkers cheered by pink-wearing supporters on Park Boulevard.
Mile 59. Just one mile to go to the Petco Park finish!
Mile 59. Just one mile to go to the Petco Park finish!
Lots of fun pink stuff greeted the walkers along the sidewalk.
Lots of fun pink stuff greeted the walkers along their route.
Guy helping with traffic wears pink and lots of pins and buttons.
Guy helping with traffic wears pink and lots of pins and buttons.
Encouraging signs wear everywhere along this beautiful section of the San Diego route.
Encouraging signs were everywhere along this beautiful section of the San Diego route.
Someone stenciled LOVE on the sidewalk.
Someone stenciled LOVE on the sidewalk.
Hydration station awaits some oncoming anti-breast cancer walkers.
Hydration station awaits some oncoming anti-breast cancer walkers.
Cars coming down the street honked and featured optimistic messages.
Cars coming down the street honked and featured optimistic messages.
San Diego police officer wears pink for the special occasion.
San Diego police officer wears pink for the special occasion.
Someone wrote a personal encouraging note in chalk on the sidewalk.
Someone wrote a personal encouraging note in chalk on the sidewalk.
This cool bystander guy has a pink mohawk!
This cool bystander guy has a pink mohawk!
U GO GIRL
U GO GIRL

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20 Ways To Help the Homeless in San Diego.

Homeless by trolley tracks between San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park.
Homeless by trolley tracks between San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park.

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!

UPDATE!

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!

Person lies face down on grass in San Diego's Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Someone lies face down on the grass in Embarcadero Marina Park North.

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.

Make Change Count meters around downtown San Diego raise money to help the homeless.
Make Change Count meters in downtown San Diego raise money to help the homeless.

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.

Small work of art I bought from a friendly gentleman in a very difficult life situation.
Small work of art I bought from a friendly gentleman walking down the street. He was in a difficult life situation.

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Kids’ NewsDay benefits Rady Children’s Hospital!

Selling special edition Union-Tribune newspapers during Kids' NewsDay!
Selling very special edition Union-Tribune newspapers during Kids’ NewsDay!

Smiling volunteers could be seen throughout San Diego this morning selling special edition newspapers! Today was the 25th anniversary of Kids’ NewsDay, a much-anticipated yearly event whose purpose is to benefit Rady Children’s Hospital.

Over the years, thousands of children and families have been helped by the money raised by generous people who purchase this inspiring edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Since the first Kids’ NewsDay in 1990, about 30,000 volunteers have sold over a million papers, raising nearly 3 million dollars! That’s amazing! The featured section of the newspaper is filled with stories of kids overcoming extremely difficult situations, many with rare or life-threatening diseases. The stories are filled with optimism, and the most inspiring stories are written by children themselves!

If you would like to make a donation to Rady Children’s Hospital, please click this link!

Kid's NewsDay helps raise funds for Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.
Kid’s NewsDay helps raise funds for Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

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Big mural at St. Vincent de Paul Village.

Big mural at St. Vincent de Paul Village.
Big mural at St. Vincent de Paul Village.

Perhaps you’ve attended a Padres game at Petco Park, gazed eastward along Imperial Avenue and seen a huge, gigantic mural on a building several blocks away. I’ve got the pics!

The amazing work of art, one of the largest glass mosaic murals in the world, adorns the Villa Harvey Mandel affordable housing building, a part of St. Vincent de Paul Village. The mural measures 43 x 72 feet and was created by the artist Italo Botti.

St. Vincent de Paul Village, located in East Village, offers assistance to the homeless population of San Diego. It has been run for decades by the one and only Father Joe Carroll, known and well-loved by many appreciative San Diegans.

Closer look at gigantic mural on Imperial Avenue.
Closer look at gigantic mural on Imperial Avenue.
Beautiful mural is loaded with life and color!
Beautiful mural is loaded with life and color!

Here’s a portion of a nearby plaque…

Volunteers and donors help neighbors.
Volunteers and donors help neighbors.

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Cancer Survivors Park: Hope, beauty, healing.

Today with modern medicine there's a pretty good chance of beating cancer.
Today with modern medicine there’s a pretty good chance of beating cancer.

Cancer Survivors Park is located at Spanish Landing, across Harbor Drive from San Diego International Airport. It’s an inspiring place of hope, beauty and healing.

At the center of the park is an arrangement of bronze sculptures by renowned artist Victor Salmones, representing people from all walks of life dealing with cancer. The journey can be complicated and difficult. A walkway that meanders through the park features plaques containing useful, positive messages.

If you also feel inspired, please feel free to share.

Some people have been cured from every type of cancer.
Some people have been cured from every type of cancer.
People from all walks of life can get cancer.
People from all walks of life can get cancer.
Cancer is the most curable of all chronic diseases.
Cancer is the most curable of all chronic diseases.
Bronze forms represent people beginning to undergo medical treatment.
Bronze forms represent people beginning to undergo medical treatment.
Realize that cancer is a life threatening disease but some beat it. Make up your mind you will be one of those who do.
Realize that cancer is a life threatening disease but some beat it. Make up your mind you will be one of those who do.
People like you and I start the difficult journey to have their cancer eliminated.
People like you and I start the difficult journey to have their cancer eliminated.
Make a commitment to do everything in your power to help yourself fight the disease.
Make a commitment to do everything in your power to help yourself fight the disease.
Beginning cancer treatment can be a bit scary and confusing.
Beginning cancer treatment can be a bit scary and confusing.
Find a qualified doctor in whom you have confidence who believes he can successfully treat you.
Find a qualified doctor in whom you have confidence who believes he can successfully treat you.
Young lady begins cancer treatment, feeling uncertain.
Young lady begins cancer treatment, feeling uncertain.
Treat your cancer promptly, properly and thoroughly and have a positive mental attitude.
Treat your cancer promptly, properly and thoroughly and have a positive mental attitude.
Happy family emerges from cancer treatment with a brand new life.
Happy family emerges from cancer treatment with a brand new life.
Get state of the art treatment. Know all your options. Knowledge heals.
Get state of the art treatment. Know all your options. Knowledge heals.
Bicyclist rides through San Diego's Cancer Survivors Park.
Bicyclist rides through San Diego’s Cancer Survivors Park.
Cancer Survivors Park is located at Spanish Landing, near Lindbergh Field.
Cancer Survivors Park is located at Spanish Landing, near Lindbergh Field.