How One Van Connects Hundreds of Homeless to Services

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When the Lucky Duck Foundation handed over the keys for a new outreach van to Family Health Centers of San Diego, a critical connection was made. For nearly 50 years, Family Health Centers has served San Diego’s most vulnerable by linking them with essential services. Before receiving the van, FHCSD had the use of an unreliable vehicle that frequently left them unable to provide the level of service that their clients deserve. The van gives outreach coordinator Michael Jones a priceless tool to do the work that he does.

Family Health Centers shares three different perspectives on what the gift means not just to the organization, but to the often overlooked people FHCSD serves. 


Michael Jones, Outreach Coordinator, Family Health Centers

“Outreach Worker,” “Case Manager”, and “Housing Coordinator” are just a few of Michael’s official job roles at Family Health Centers. Unofficially, he’s the heart of the organization and puts his passion in every task he undertakes. Michael believes the van is one of the most critical tools he has that enables him to connect with people in dire need of FHCSD’s services. Before he can serve the people, he ensures that the van is in top mechanical shape and also clean. He wants it to be a welcoming and safe place for people as he does his outreach.

Michael has a long history with FHCSD, bringing clients to medical and dental appointments, transporting them to mental health appointments, taking them to substance abuse counseling, and driving them to not just look at potential housing, but also helping them move in. He spends his days visiting places that he knows people who need FHCSD’s services are. From encampments to the San Diego Public Library, to the Greyhound Bus stations, Michael has a knack for finding people that need him. 


Steve, Client, Family Health Centers

Steve stepped off of a Greyhound Bus in San Diego earlier this summer. Escaping an unsafe situation in another city and with no place to go upon his arrival here, he hoped that as a veteran, he might be able to connect to temporary housing. As luck would have it, Michael Jones, Outreach Coordinator for FHCSD, happened to be serving in his outreach capacity at the bus station that day. When the two men began talking, Michael was able to determine that not only did Steve need assistance in securing shelter, he was ready to accept Michael’s help in finding it.

Steve was in the last draft class in the early 1970s and served in the military for 18 months before being honorably discharged. He is grateful for the benefits he has received because of his service. Specifically, he appreciates his VA card that enabled Michael to secure him a bed at the Veteran’s Villages of San Diego bridge shelter. If they had to rely on public transportation to the shelter, it might not have been as smooth as a transition for him. Access to the van enabled Michael to get Steve directly to the shelter without facing any deterrents along the way.


AJ Galka, Associate Director of Homeless Services, Family Health Centers

Family Health Centers San Diego has been on a mission since 1970 to bring affordable and accessible high-quality medical, dental, mental health, addiction, and other supportive services to the underserved community of San Diego. As Associate Director of Homeless Services, AJ Galka works tirelessly to ensure that all of the clients’ needs are met timely, efficiently, and most of all, compassionately. The van removes obstacles to care that may otherwise impact their physical and mental health. It has been used for over 200 transports since it was gifted to FHCSD in October 2018, connecting people to primary care appointments, medical specialty care, benefits assistance meetings at the County Family Resource Centers, plus housing-related appointments, and employment service meetings.

AJ has experienced clients overwhelmed at the prospect of taking the bus to their appointments, particularly if they have more than one scheduled in the course of a day. The van provides comfort, efficiency, and safety to the passengers as well as a friendly voice to talk to.  She’s seen many successes since the addition of the van to FHCSD’s equipment. Even though success looks different for everyone, AJ tells many stories like Mr. Stephens’ that highlight just how special this vehicle is to a very deserving community of people.

Thank you for sharing your luck!

You help make donations like the Family Health Center’s outreach van possible. Visit our website to learn more about how you can share your luck and support this program and others like it. If you’ve got time to spare, consider volunteering with the Family Health Centers or one of our other collaborative partners. Check out the Volunteer page to learn how to share your time to make a difference in our community. And don’t forget to amplify the impact and share this post to encourage others to share their luck.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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