December 30, 2009
As the name suggests, Solutions for Change is all about solving family homelessness for kids and communities by engaging homeless families in the Solutions University around accessing permanent solutions. By building purposeful and meaningful partnerships around long term permanent solutions with families in crisis on one hand and with discerning community partners like you on the other, together we defeat homelessness. Not for a few winter months, but forever.
We do this by equipping parents and kids with the skills, knowledge and resources using a strategic partnership around a blending of affordable housing, work training, educational opportunities and health related solutions. Solving homelessness versus simply managing the symptoms of it requires a lot of hard work and resources. Your support equips Solutions for Change with the resources needed to battle and defeat the impacts of homelessness.
By supporting Solutions for Change YOU solve family homelessness for kids and communities, one family and one community at a time.
Be Part of the Change – for Today, Tomorrow and forever and join the cause that is solving family homelessness.
Blessing for a a healthy and prosperous 2010,
Chris and Tammy Megison
December 23, 2009
I am part of something hugely purposeful and meaningful. My being here and being involved in a cause that is solving family homelessness for kids and communities is different than anything I have ever experienced. This is really special. The people here are really special.
This place is solving family homelessness for these kids and my community and I am part of it.
Pause right now wherever you are and think back to when you were eight years old. What if you lost your home? Where would you go? What would you do? You are eight. The average age of the 190 “homeless people” helped within the Solutions University right now today is eight years old. The program is year round and comprehensive and is designed to defeat homelessness by equipping families with the skills, knowledge and resources required to address and solve the causative factors, not merely contain the symptoms for the winter months.
For each and every person out there who has given something of themselves this holiday season to solve homelessness for a kid at Solutions for Change: their time, a gift, inviting their FaceBook friends with a message that says “wow! check this place out”, their integrity to stand up and be accountable for changing how we deal with this problem, their leadership or their treasures here is a message from the Solutions for Change family:
“We want you to know how special each of you are and how much your kindness has lightened the burden carried by a child who has lost something very dear...to a child who has lost their home. You see by supporting the Solutions University, the gift you give this holiday season, this Christmas, is the gift of a home. And because of that, because you believe in us, we pledge to fight everyday for our kids, to work harder than we ever have to get back on our feet and to defeat this thing called homelessness. Thank You for joining us and coming alongside in this big vision to solve family homelessness for kids and communities".
December 22, 2009
As we get closer to year end it is stories like this that keep our passion ignited.
"Hello. I'm Toma. "Meaningless, empty and cold.'" That’s how Sarah and I describe our lives before Solutions for Change. We were living on the streets, literally. Sarah was pregnant. But as soon as Sarah found Solutions for Change, she started to take control of her life. I followed her lead and, together, we re-established our lives through the Solutions University.
Now Sarah and I are married. We live in our own apartment. Sarah saved a couple of thousands dollars while at the Solutions University. We are parents to a two-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son. Sarah describes her life now as "fulfilling, exciting and fun." I say Solutions for Change was a Godsend. So thanks for the promise you have made to us and everyone else who is in need! There are lots of people like Sarah and me who still need your help."
Thank You for all your support!
- The Solutions University Team
December 16, 2009
To all the Leaders of Change at the Solutions University –
I feel compelled to write a letter showing my appreciation for your understanding and hard work.
Prior to my family entering the Solutions University, I had called over 30 residential programs from San Diego to Bakersfield. My husband had an outstanding probation issue that required him to be in a structured residential program until Dec. Two months went by and we struggled very hard, barely making it day-to-day
Every program we called, either didn’t have room for our family of 6, or couldn’t help us..
On May 26, I had given up. I stopped calling programs and gave our entire situation to God.
That day, a family member gave me a list of resource numbers, all of which I had already called. The last number on the list said “Solutions”.
I called the number expecting the same response, “No two parent families”, or the famous, “No room.”
I was greeted on the phone by a woman named Laurie. I explained to her my situation and to my surprise, her words were “We’re not like the typical so- called shelter, we can help.” I immediately started to cry. She explained to me a little about the program, and asked me some questions. She gave me an appointment, and before I hung up, she told me, “I’ll see you on Wednesday, everything’s going to be okay.”
I showed up on Wednesday, May 3, hoping for the best, but expecting the worst. The same woman, Laurie, gave both me and my husband an application. When we got to the criminal and drug history section, we looked at each other with the same look – “Should I be honest?”
For the first time in a long time, we were 100% honest. At this point now, I’m really expecting the worst because my honesty on paper doesn’t exactly make us look like upstanding people. We reluctantly turned them back into Laurie and waited.
A few minutes later, we met with a woman named Christine. Her first question was, “Why are you here?” I immediately began crying. I broke down and was completely honest with a total stranger. This went on for about an hour. Christine called a woman named Barbara, and asked if there was room for a family of 6. When she hung up, she said it’s pretty full, but Barbara will call you later and let you know when you can move over there.
Three long hours later, Barbara called and said we can move in that same night. I felt so relieved; all I could do was cry.
My family and I arrived at the intake and access center that night and were greeted by Ann and Laurie, who made us feel right at home.
I’ve been at the intake and access center now for almost a month and a half. I feel safe and comfortable now, a feeling I haven’t had in a while. I don’t always like it here, but Barbara tells me that’s a good thing because if I like it, I may never leave. I think she’s right.
In the small amount of time we’ve been there, I’ve seen a lot of changes in my family, good ones. We work as a team now, something that we haven’t always done. We have 350 days clean and feel better than I’ve ever felt. Thank you for your kindness.
December 14, 2009
"My three children and I started our journey out of homelessness here in Vista a few years ago. Although we still live in Vista today, we are a world apart from how we used to live. Growing up in an abusive family and later in an abusive marriage I learned at a very young age that you absolutely did not talk about family situations and because of this, I became very introverted. When I came into Solutions for Change, they recognized this right away and started to provide me with the tools that I needed to overcome the “don’t tell” syndrome. While working the part of the program called Framework for Recovery, something clicked for me and I realized that recovery from all the loss and pain was an inside job. When I cared enough about myself to open up, to get rid of the negative self-talk, I started taking responsibility for my choices and began holding myself accountable for my own happiness. My whole life changed. I’ve been working for the same Vista business for a couple of years. Solutions University helped me get into an affordable apartment. The difference in my kids lives today still makes me cry sometimes…I love them so much. When we got here they were hungry and scared and now they are safe, happy and healthy. THANK YOU to the Solutions University for giving us a chance."
December 7, 2009
This past Saturday, the Solutions University participated in the Vista Christmas Parade. It was a great parade, showcasing the community leaders and patrons of Vista. It was a fun day for our residents and many of the children got the opportunity to ride in the fire truck! A great way to begin the Holiday Season with our beloved community!
December 6, 2009
One thing was made very clear...the concern around the impacts of homelessness are reaching critical mass. People are tired of the same old, same old. But I must say that the same attitudes and beliefs that crafted the policies and practices which got us into this huge mess are still alive and well. And I see these attitudes prevalent amongst those we count on the most to execute our programs. It's an attitude based on reacting to the unmet needs of the homeless and containing homelessness versus solving it.
There is also finger pointing at how badly people in San Diego treat the homeless. Like this editorial written by a social worker published in the Union Tribune today. She points a finger at the people of San Diego who are treating the homeless badly. But are they really the people who created the problem?
From my front line perspective, the reactions from our community and the "despise" this writer and others speak of are the natural consequences resulting from two decades of using the wrong battle plan. The plan San Diego uses is largely one based on a “containment" plan, whereas the impacts of homelessness are essentially controlled and contained. Homelessness is a solvable condition, yet we continue to treat it as a disease by managing the symptoms of homelessness instead of treating the underlying causes.
There is talk of a reform effort in San Diego...but there can be no real reform until we know what went wrong and why it went wrong.
Reform means that we do not push the rug over the big crack in the foundation thinking we'll just modify practices around failed policies and build new walls around the crack. Reform means not getting on the same ship, setting a new "course" while we have the crews bailing water on the decks below. Reform means abandoning the failed battle plan totally and redesigning using the best social purpose entrepreneurial thinking this community has to offer. Or we can just keep using the same old "political" excuses, the same old general’s controlling the same old containment battle plan. That is how we got here and that is how we will stay locked into mediocrity as many more human beings suffer and die on our streets. Like in any battle, when it comes to the battle to defeat homelessness, using the wrong battle plan only increases the impacts of homelessness on human beings and on our community. Please look at the negative impacts! That is all the evidence you need. It’s worse now than ever before.
We must abandon this old failed battle plan, redesign around a new battle plan. And reimagine San Diego with no homeless on our streets.
It's not the business community’s job, the church's job, or the government’s job to solve homelessness. This is a social problem that deserves the involvement of every sector, both private and public, engaged in a winnable battle plan. Stop messing around. It’s time we deploy our community capital and resources in a way that will defeat homelessness.
December 3, 2009
Today, the North County Times Newspaper published a shorter version of Tuesday's blog post about solving homelessness. You can access it online here.
As an indication to how little we talk about solving homelessness, GOOGLE lists this in their Top 10 hits nationwide when searching "solving homelessness". My purpose for this editorial is an attempt to elevate the conversation around solving (versus managing the symptoms of) homelessness.
November 30, 2009
The Regional Shelter System opens today for the winter months. You can read about it here.
There has been a new push in some communities across the country to move away from the traditional emergency shelter systems and into hybrid programs capable of addressing and solving the causative factors of homelessness. If we invested more of our brains, brawn, money and political capital into developing more access to permanent solutions, we wouldn’t need to fund a half million dollars in emergency shelters every winter. Yet we continue to feel good about throwing Band-Aids out there (temporary solutions) thinking this is the best we can do. That thinking is the wrong thinking and it is what keeps us locked into and stuck in mediocrity.
The evidence has consistently shown that shelters, feeding programs and these "case management" services (for the vast majority of the homeless) do nothing more than MANAGE the symptoms of homelessness by containing it. It cost a lot of money to continually manage the homeless problem year after year, versus the cost of investing in strategic approaches to solve it.
This is a noble thing...to help the homeless... but it would be a far nobler and more humane thing to stop this containment “merry go round” and activate the access to permanent solutions required to defeat homelessness, not for 4 winter months, but for good. With the right battle plan, homelessness is a solvable condition, yet the emergency winter shelter approach continues to treat the homeless like they are something that has to be controlled and contained...like a disease. It’s the equivalent of Tri City Hospital putting patients on beds with morphine drips making the patient comfortable instead of delivering a comprehensive treatment plan to address and solve the underlying condition. People die or churn around in the system forever. This is how we treat the homeless by continually placing them in emergency shelters year after year. Emergency shelters by their very nature are designed to contain, not solve problems. We call it compassion, but is this approach really compassionate?
It’s far time that this and other communities get behind local initiatives designed to solve homelessness using the innovative and proven alternative solution driven models that are springing up. They are bold, exciting, entrepreneurial driven solutions focused on outcomes instead of inputs, on number of people who get and stay off the streets, versus the number of bed nights provided or number of meals given out.
Many will read this article and feel good but the ugly truth of it is these programs keep people locked into a state of homelessness and perpetutate the churning effect that has led to homelessness becoming an epic social problem. We can’t solve the lowest rung of poverty (homelessness) with emergency winter shelter beds. We can only contain it for a few winter months, buy ourselves some guilt free nights...only to repeat it next winter. The people that run these things know this…they know that they are only containing it. And the last point is this…if the traditional shelter systems worked to end homelessness, why is there more homeless today than ever before? Pre recession, post recession, doesn’t matter…the impacts of homelessness have been and are greater than ever. It’s because these emergency shelters and most of the traditional homeless programs use old strategies that simply are designed to contain it, not solve it.
November 27, 2009
We hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Everyone at the Solutions University feels blessed for all those that continue to lend a hand and who are being part of the change! This week we received another partner in our journey to solve family homelessness... Payless Shoesource! You see them on corners of major shopping malls and now the Solutions University residents will be able to go do some Holiday shopping thanks to them!
November 20, 2009
November 19, 2009
We all know homelessness is a massive problem that our country is facing and due to the economy this is an issue that is constantly increasing. How big is this problem? Here are a few facts on homelessness... pretty scary.
Families with children are by most accounts among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. In the United States an estimated 1.35 million from 600 thousand families will experience homelessness today, while 3.8 million more will live in “precarious housing situations.” Put it in another way, of every 200 children in America, 3 will be homeless today and more than double that number will be at risk for homelessness.
November 16, 2009
November 12, 2009
“North County Homeless Kids Walk for the ‘Slum Dogs’ of India”
SAN DIEGO, November 12, 2009 - One would think an organization who is solving family homelessness for North County, San Diego would have enough to worry about; daily to-do lists, organization meetings, community outreach and of course solving family homelessness for 60 families in their Solutions University. However, when it comes to North County Solutions for Change, it is the exact opposite. With their 10-year slogan, “Not just a name, but a promise” Solutions for Change will be keeping this promise by participating in an extra-ordinary event held at Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista, California.
The ONEKind Foundation will be holding a walkathon at Rancho Buena Vista High School on November 14th at 9:30am. Funds raised through this event will support Zamar Academy in Chennai, India. The Zamar Academy’s purpose is “to offer quality education free of cost to children from below poverty line families, who do not have the means, morale and methods and to integrate them into the main stream of the nation, as responsible citizens.”
What makes this event so special is because of who is participating in this event; the families of the Solutions University. Parents and their children from Solutions for Change will be forming two teams to compete against each other in order see who can raise the most amount of money for this great cause. Furthermore, Solutions for Change Founders, Chris and Tammy Megison will be forming their own team and funds they raise will be evenly distributed to the two teams from the Solutions University, “Whether they are standing in front of supermarkets to raise funds for Katrina victims or flipping burgers for deploying Marines at a Family Day picnic aboard Camp Pendleton, our families and kids continually amaze me with their heart and drive to be a force for goodness,” explains Mr. Megison. The winning team from Solutions University will be treated to a day at Legoland sponsored by the Solutions University.
By involving the families of the Solutions University in an event like this is the staple of what North County Solutions for Change has created. One of their core values is to equip the families they are helping to become givers themselves. By empowering these families who once were homeless, instills the values and philosophy that North County Solutions for Change has been building for the past ten years.
Not only does Solutions for Change ask you To Be Part of the Change – for today, tomorrow and forever, but they engage those that you are changing to be a change for others who are in the same or if not worse, position than they are.
To join the Solutions for Change team and be a walker for change, please click here.
For More Information:
North County Solutions for Change: solutionsforchange.org
ONEKind Foundation: onekindfoundation.org
Zamar Academy: zamarhelpeducation.org
November 11, 2009
November 10, 2009
November 2, 2009
'The Gondoliers', a lively Gilbert and Sullivan favorite "easy listening" operetta, was presented Sunday, October 18th at 4 p.m. in San Marcos. Students of Oceanside dance instructor Krista Hale performed along side North County Sunday Soiree opera and musical theater singers Debbie Nicastro, Max Chodos, Kim Neblett, Tracey Pear, Therese Holladay, John-Scot Moir, Brian Gemmell, international opera singer Cynthia Leigh, sang the principal roles accompanied by chamber orchestra and chorus conducted by Jeff Lehman at Meadowlark Church, 1918 Redwing St., San Marcos. A special thank you to Therese Hollady and John Danke of North County Sunday Soiree for putting this event together, raising over $1,200.00 for the families of North County Solutions for Change.
Thank you for Being Part of the Change - for today, tomorrow and forever!
October 28, 2009
TrackYourDeeds.com is being Part of the Change by holding a Toy Drive for our children at the Solutions University. We greatly appreciate your efforts to help one organization help another. For our children and families to get to celebrate the Holidays with each other is a gift in itself. For our children to be able to unwrap a present during the Holidays is a moment that will last forever and will brighten their lives in a way that is not comprehensible to those of us who have not been in their shoes.
Bring a new or used toy and Be Part of the Change - for today, tomorrow and forever!
October 26, 2009
October 21, 2009
October 20, 2009
October 14, 2009
It seems that our society has largely conditioned itself around a “containment” approach, reacting to the urgent surface needs of our homeless neighbors by managing the symptoms of homelessness. Slinging soup bowls, shelter beds, case managers and hugs at an opponent as tricky and difficult as this enemy is, is in my opinion, a sad recipe for massive failure not to mention showing an unintended disservice to the homeless person themselves. Demonstrating mercy requires that we deliver the attitude, the action and the accountability of compassion. Yet how often do we leave out that essential and very necessary third critical piece...the accountability of compassion? Without all three it seems that compassion is nothing more than a transaction for the benefit of the giver. The Good Samaritan did all three; the attitude, the action and the accountability of compassion. And as we can see in the parable, it wasn’t easy for him to do yet he did it anyway because he wanted his involvement to be significant. After he picked the hurt man up on the side of the road, cleaned his wounds and rode him to town he gave two silver pieces to the inn keeper and said that he would return. This would indicate his intention to follow-through.
It’s easy to give someone a bowl of soup or 5 bucks on a freeway off ramp. Giving a bowl of soup is 100x easier than getting shoulder to shoulder with a person, opening a conversation around change, building trust and engaging the person to see that change is necessary, developing a partnership with clear goals and objectives, executing the change, making adjustments along the way and then solving the underlying issues that caused the person to be hungry, cold, lonely and lost to begin with. This is what Solutions for Change stands for. Working with families in crisis on a gut level and solving homelessness in a partnership with them is what we strive to accomplish with each of the 60 homeless families in our Solutions University. And this is why I am passionate about engaging the church because the church can be involved in something much deeper and more significant when it comes to its impact in the community. And they don’t have to start from scratch because we’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting already by building and acquiring the homes for 60 homeless families to live, learn and grow within the Solutions University programs.
Solutions for Change is looking to forge strategic community partnerships with churches (and with other sectors…which we will share about in a future blog) who want to move from success to significance when it comes to their involvement in community issues like family homelessness. So far we’ve found some big visionaries in the church sector like New Life Pres in Escondido, Calvary Chapel Oceanside, and Vista Hope Church to join the initiative. Many more are seeing the difference between the containment system and the compassion model and looking to join the North County Community Initiative to Solve Family Homelessness.
Whether it is with a homeless family at Solutions for Change or the neighbor down the street, true acts of mercy are about going all the way, way beyond that bowl of soup or a drive by volunteer opportunity. It's not about compassion transactions but about relationships around solving tough community problems. It begins with seeing the difference between the containment system and the compassion model. Once we recognize the difference, then implementing the solutions are simple. When that happens, watch and see how our North County community defeats family homelessness with amazing ease.
October 10, 2009
The old way of dealing with homelessness through emergency shelters, soup kitchens and other human service programs has FAILED. These methods only contain and manage the symptoms of homelessness while creating more impacts in our communities which act like a giant enabling churning system. Sure some homeless get out, but most just churn around in an every expanding and costly system. Then we scratch our heads and wonder why neighborhoods come unglued and we can’t get a winter shelter placed. Take it from an old Marine who’s been on the front lines of this social battle for 18 years here in San Diego County...you need a new battle plan. HINT: Real mercy includes the attitude, the action and the accountability of compassion. Without all three -- a shelter bed and a bowl of soup is merely a "compassion transaction". It all starts with a shift in our thinking....a whole different attitude. Stop compassion transactions and start treating the impacts of homelessness on human beings and communities like the worthy opponent it is.
October 8, 2009
“Solutions for Change has impacted my life in a lot of different ways. It has helped my son and I learn to set goals in all areas of our lives, so that we can better our future in many ways. I have learned how to save money, pay bills, and how to get a job that will support my family and I in a better way. I thank Solutions for Change for all their love and support for my family and I.”
- Solutions University Graduate
October 2, 2009
Lack of Affordable Housing:
In a detailed analysis of the US rental market, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition concluded that our country is experiencing a significant and prolonged shortage of affordable housing.
- 1.7 million housing units are needed to fill the gap in affordable housing for extremely low-income households.
Housing costs outpace wages.
Housing costs outpace wages.
- A full-time worker earning minimum wage cannot afford a one-bedroom unit priced at the Fair Market Rent anywhere in the United States. Nationally, a full-time worker must earn $17.32 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent.
One in seven US households – 37.3 million – has severe housing cost burdens. Most of these households (78%) are in the bottom quarter of the income distribution (earning $23,000 or less annually).
Federal support for low-income housing has fallen 49% from 1980-2003.
- The average wait for public housing is twenty months. The average wait for a Section 8 Voucher is thirty-five months.
October 1, 2009
“Solutions for Change is the biggest part of my family’s future, and a stepping stone laid down for my family by God as a hand up. We are in preparation to graduate and move into our new home in the next six months. This is a huge difference considering six months ago I was jobless, with little money and soon to be evicted. This partnership has rocked my whole world and way of thinking, living and walking through life. The uniqueness of this program cannot even be compared. It’s more than change, it’s a new life. You do the work, and you get a new turnkey life. It’s not easy but it’s so worth it. I can accomplish my dreams now.”
September 25, 2009
September 24, 2009
The typical sheltered homeless family is comprised of a mother in her late twenties with two children.
• 84% of families experiencing homelessness are female-headed.
This is due to a number of factors:
o Most single-parent families are female-headed (71%).
Single-parent families are among the poorest in the nation and as such, are extremely vulnerable to homelessness.
o Many family shelters do not accept men into their programs, causing families to separate when they become homeless.
• Families of color are overrepresented in the homeless population. Nationally:
o 43% are African-American
o 38% are White, non Hispanic
o 15% are Hispanic
o 3% are Native American.
• Families experiencing homelessness usually have limited education.
o 53% of homeless mothers do not have a high school diploma.
• 29% of adults in homeless families are working.
• 42% of children in homeless families are under age six.
Data Provided By: http://community.familyhomelessness.org/
September 22, 2009
We Are Winning is a documentary about one community in America and the people in it who are solving family homelessness. Recent reports state that 1 in 50 children living in the United States will experience homelessness in 2009. Is family homelessness in America a condition that can be solved? Over the next several weeks you will meet people from the community of North San Diego County California who believe that solving family homelessness for kids and communities is achievable and who are doing something about it.
County Supervisor Bill Horn - from the government sector
Bill Horn, Supervisor Fifth District of the County of San Diego representing most of North San Diego County California describes the importance of Solutions for Change to a family in crisis and to the community at large. Supervisor Bill Horn has been known for his tough stance on social problems like gangs and criminality. In this interview Bill sits down with a family who, prior to becoming homeless, was causing some of the same problems that he was confronting. Formerly associated with the gang and criminal life, then homeless for a time before coming into and then eventually graduating the Solutions for Change program, a local couple shares their story with Supervisor Horn about how their lives have been completely overhauled. Says Horn, “The thing about Solutions for Change is that they want to make you successful, they want to help you work out of this no matter how far down or how tough it may look. They are the guiding light that comes alongside of you to help get you out of homelessness. No person should be given up on, really, and Solutions for Change is proof that with the right stuff many of our toughest challenges can be solved.”
Alan Heim – from the business sector
Alan Heim, Vice President Human Resources talks about why Directed Electronics invests in the community through the Solutions University programs run by Solutions for Change and how through the relationships which are built, many families including the lives of many children, are impacted in very meaningful ways. In this way, Directed Electronics views their reach and their commitment to significance far beyond the front door of their business headquartered on Viper Way in Vista California. Like their world-class automobile security systems that provide peace of mind and personal safety, their position in the community exemplifies a like attitude of investing in a safe and secure community, which according to Alan must include helping the families at Solutions for Change. “North County Solutions for Change has made an overwhelming difference in many of the lives of the homeless families in our community. I’ve spent time at Solutions for Change and I can see that these families are getting the support that they need to get back on their feet. It’s a program that we are very proud to be a part of.”
Daryl McFarland – from the law enforcement and business sector
Daryl McFarland, former police officer and current Director of Operations at Sun Country Builders, developers of the finest housing in San Diego County gives his views on homelessness. Daryl talks about how his core values and the core values which make up the Solutions for Change organization align around the simple principles of accountability and hard work. Daryl says, “For me having been an ex cop it was doubly surprising and doubly rewarding to see how this program could so dramatically change lives. We aren’t talking just any lives here; we are talking about the lives of homeless kids and we are talking the lives of the parents of those kids who are taking responsibility to change whatever is needed to succeed. Most times that change involves a real hard long honest look in the mirror. It’s not easy, but those at Solutions for Change are making it happen, one family at a time.”