For Pat and Stephanie Kilkenny, co-founders of the non-profit Lucky Duck Foundation, defeating homeless is an important cause. “We lived together in downtown San Diego for seven years in the late 90s and early 2000s, so we saw it everyday,” recalls Stephanie. “Father Joe’s Villages attempts to end the cycle by treating the cause, not just the symptoms, and we believe in that approach.”
The Kilkenny’s and Lucky Duck Foundation Board and Committee Members were invited recently to tour the organization’s facilities in the East Village to see first hand how LDF’s donations are helping. The Lucky Duck Foundation has donated over a million dollars to FJV since 1995. The organization provides affordable and transitional housing, health and wellness services, employment counseling and children’s therapy to San Diego’s homeless.
San Diego has the fourth largest homeless population in the U.S. and so a place like Father Joe’s is badly needed. Their kitchen serves anywhere from 750 to 1500 meals a day, and an estimated 1 million people a year. They are often overwhelmed with the demands that only seem to grow. “In this part of the city we look like a third world country,” explains Chief Program Officer Ruth Bruland. “I’d advise you not to walk down these streets. There’s a real shift in the population and we can not wait for federal dollars to come in.”
Bruland says much of the money donated by LDF goes to the Medical Clinic because federal dollars are often quite restrictive in this area. Infact, President & Chief Executive Officer of FJV, Deacon Jim F. Vargas, says most of their budget comes from the private side making relationships like the one they have with the Lucky Duck Foundation extremely important.
“Government donations come with so many strings attached and a lot of times what the government wants to fund doesn’t really match up with the needs of the clients,” explains Vargas. “With private donations, these are donors who fall in love with the mission and know that we know exactly what these clients need and they trust us to get the job done.”
During the tour, Bruland took the group to areas that aren’t always open to the public because they’re where FJV works to provide a stable environment for its littlest clients including a children’s play room and classroom, and a room known as the “Yes Room” where everything from shoes to barbies has been donated. Father Joe’s also provides parenting classes to help improve the parent child relationship. “How do you end homelessness?,” says Bruland, “For me it’s a no brainer. You have to look at all of these things or you get the recidivism.”
Father Joe’s Villages will once again be a beneficiary of the Lucky Duck Foundation Swing & Soiree October, 3rd, along with the Helen Woodward Animal Center and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. To register go here.