September 25, 2009

The 2010 Entertainment Books are Here!

If you have been asking yourself, "How can I be part of the change to help the Solutions University?" then we have another great opportunity for you!

The 2010 Entertainment Books are finally here and we are selling them for $40.00 in order to raise money for the terrific Kids Homework Club! Your purchase will not only get you incredible deals all over San Diego, but you will also be helping one of our great Solutions University programs.

In order to purchase your Entertainment Book, please email Tammy:

Thank you for your continued support, generosity and being part of the change - for today, tomorrow and forever!

September 24, 2009

Facts on Family Homelessness

This week we highlight the facts on: "Who are Homeless Families?"

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:

September 22, 2009

The final three Community IMPACT Leaders from the "We are Winning" Documentary

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.

If you’ve already watched the documentary introduction just select one of the Docu-Clips below or click here to watch the Documentary Introduction by Chris Megison

Social entrepreneur and visionary Chris Megison introduces the first part of an ongoing documentary series around what one community in America and the people in it are doing to solve family homelessness. In this initial first phase of the documentary, Megison introduces 15 people who explain why they are winning the battle against family homelessness in their community. This first series of short vignettes explores the benefits of engaging all community sectors: civic, church, education, government and business around a model and a plan designed to solve (not contain) homelessness.

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.”

September 18, 2009

One Family's Story...

This week's "One Family's Story" post has a little twist to it as we have a great video to share with all of you that highlights more than just "One Family's Story." This video is a tribute to all the families who are currently solving their homelessness and who are experiencing the 1,000 day Solutions University program.

Our thanks goes out to, Global Plastic Sheeting and all those who helped in making this day so special for all of our residents who had the opportunity to attend the event. They are all Part of the Change - for today, tomorrow and forever and we ask that you too be part of the change; so we can continue to solve family homelessness for one family and one community at a time.

September 15, 2009

Three more community members who are Part of the Change for today, tomorrow and forever!

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.

If you’ve already watched the documentary introduction just select one of the Docu-Clips below or click here to watch the Documentary Introduction by Chris Megison.

Kent Davy - from the business sector

Kent Davy, Editor of the North County Times Newspaper talks about the commitment to report on the issues related to homelessness in northern San Diego County. Kent describes how the ongoing debate over the problems and solutions around homelessness provides the North County Times with unique insights. Those insights delve both into the struggles of the individuals and families who have lost their homes and into the attitudes found within a community struggling to balance mercy and justice, compassion and responsibility.

Sue Reynolds – from the nonprofit sector

Sue Reynolds, CEO of Community Housing Works, a not for profit developer of affordable housing describes her role as the developer of the Solutions Family Center. Sue further talks about the overall importance of affordable housing and how with it communities can obtain and remain healthy both from a social and economic perspective.

Dal Williams – from the civic and educational sector

Dal Williams, retired Mayor of Marines and educator talks about the early challenges of homelessness in the city of which he served as an elected official. Dal pioneered a community initiative that started with an education campaign called Real Change – Not Spare Change. The campaign engaged business owners, law enforcement, nonprofits and churches in a productive dialogue around dealing with the problems of homelessness head-on. Dal’s no-nonsense approach gained traction which then eventually led to a new way of local government, business and community organizations working together in dealing with a very old social problem.

What Does Solving Homelessness Look Like?

What does solving homelessness look like? If you are like me, you’ve asked yourself that question a few 100 times. Maybe a better way to start thinking about that question is what it DOES NOT look like.

It doesn’t look like serving the homeless, unless serving the homeless means more than a transaction around a bowl of soup, a shelter bed and a weekly case management visit with a few hugs thrown in there. Solving homelessness is based on forging a relationship with the person around a plan to help the person solve the underlying reasons that got them homeless. It’s not about transactions. It’s about partnership. And yes, in case you are wondering, it is possible to form a partnership with a mentally ill homeless person or a homeless person slinging dope on the streets. It may start with a bowl of soup, but it quickly changes into a strategic intervention plan with very purposeful goals and objectives that include getting shoulder to shoulder with the person around a conversation to get off and stay off the streets.

It doesn’t look like helping the homeless person at the expense of the community. In other words if what we are doing is stringing together transactions around soup bowls and shelter beds we are going to really piss off our community. We see this in the news all the time. Neighborhoods come unglued. This is the natural consequence to what happens when a church, a nonprofit or a program “helps” the homeless at the expense of the community. Again, it’s not about transactions, it’s about partnerships with those in our community too. And those partnerships MUST be purposeful and meaningful or people are going to see through it and get pissed off.

There is a long list of what solving homelessness doesn’t look like, but I am going to stop with this third example. Solving homelessness doesn’t look like the image of my buddies down there in San Diego with pitchforks and battle axes whacking at the toes of Godzilla. That is what we are doing in my humble opinion of 17 years on the front lines of this thing. Our battle plan sucks (sorry, I had to use the adjective that my 12 year old uses when I tell her to clean the garage without getting her the skills, knowledge and resources to do it right). The battle plan LOOKS like we are doing all kinds of really cool and important things like feeding, sheltering, serving, hugging and case managing the homeless. But in reality we are getting our butts handed to us. This opponent called homelessness can be defeated, but instead of crafting a real plan, a plan based around solving this thing (and perhaps putting some folks out of business) we just keep gleefully whacking away at symptoms. Hugs and Smiles - Chris Megison

September 11, 2009

This Weekend's Upcoming Event

Thanks to's "Your Home. Our Community." campaign, 62 of our residents will be treated to a San Diego Padres game this Sunday. The residents will be driven down to Petco park in Limo Buses, receive t-shirts, food and a few other surprises. A local Vista Company, Global Plastic Sheeting is also a big part of the event as they are one of the corporate sponsors that enabled this event to happen. Here is the article that was published through the Union Tribune earlier this morning. Have a great weekend and feel free to join us at the Game.... Padres vs. Rockies, Sunday, September 13th at 1:05pm. See you all there!

Homeless kids, parents going to Padres game

September 11, 2009

Several dozen North County homeless children and their parents will be treated to a Padres game with all the trimmings Sunday, thanks to the efforts of a San Diego real estate agency and other donors who pitched in to support the outing.

Two limo buses will pick up the group of 62 children and parents Sunday morning at North County Solutions for Change, a Vista-based homeless shelter that works with families in an effort to provide them with the skills and resources needed to get off the streets permanently.

“I don't know if they're more excited about the limo bus or the baseball game. They're just fired up; it's great,” said Chris Megison, president and executive director of North County Solutions for Change.

When the outing was announced at a meeting, “the look on (the children's) faces was just priceless,” Megison said. “They couldn't believe it.”

The excursion was organized by, a real estate agency based in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood. David Tal, the company's principal agent and founder, said the event is part of an overall campaign to assist worthy organizations throughout the county.

Each month, volunteers organized by are planning to participate in a charitable event that's connected to housing in some way, Tal said. In July, the first month of the campaign, volunteers helped build a house with Habitat for Humanity in Oceanside.

Tal said his company chose Solutions for Change after reading about the nonprofit's work on its Web site.

“Chris (Megison) was so excited when I told him what we wanted to do,” Tal said. “Charities are suffering right now."

The group will sit near the third-base line at Petco Park to watch the Padres play the Colorado Rockies. The trip will include food, drinks and T-shirts for participants. All of the services have been donated, Tal said.

A Vista-based company, Global Plastic Sheeting, also is a major sponsor of the event. Several individual donors have contributed as well.

Solutions for Change is always looking for ways to bring homeless children and their parents into the mainstream of society, Megison said.

“When a kid can go to a ballgame, and sit back and have a hot dog and popcorn and in the seventh inning sing 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game,' I don't know anything more American, more mainstream than that,” he said. “It puts our families out in the community in a way that says, 'We're part of this community just like anyone else.' ”

The Padres event isn't the only significant contribution received recently by North County Solutions for Change. Last month, employees of Watkins Manufacturing, a spa builder in Vista, brought 20 boxes of supplies and a check for $15,000 to the homeless shelter. The donation came from Watkins' parent company, Masco Corp.

“In this day and age right now, with the recession knocking a lot of nonprofits in the kneecaps, the word 'grateful' just doesn't seem to reflect how I personally feel,” Megison said about the donations. “Without these companies coming through, we can't solve homelessness for these kids and families.”

Joe Tash is a freelance writer from Oceanside.

September 10, 2009

One Family's Story...

We have decided to switch it up a little and provide you with a different way to get in touch with the stories of past and present residents here at the Solutions University. Please take a few minutes to click HERE and listen to this week's story.

We cannot thank you enough for your on going support. Please help be part of the change and spread the word!

Remember, you can also connect with us here:

Thank You!

September 8, 2009

Companies like Watkins Manufacturing are part of the change!

We cannot express our gratitude enough towards one of the amazing local companies here in Vista that have helped made an impact and who are part of the change for the Solutions University - Watkins Manufacturing.

September 8, 2009 -- During this past August, the employees of Vista-based Watkins Manufacturing filled the company's hallways with bedding, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, clothing, food and school supplies. On Friday, August 28, Watkins representatives delivered over 20 boxes to North County Solutions for Change, along with a check for $15,000. The check was a grant from Watkins Manufacturing's parent company, Masco Corporation, according to Sandra Shuda, Vice President of Human Resources for Watkins, maker of Hot Spring Spas and Caldera Spas.

"Our company has been an active supporter of Solutions for Change for several years. We appreciate the proactive way they're creating a solution for homeless families in Vista. When the Masco Corporation Foundation invited its subsidiaries to apply for grants to help local organizations devoted to ending homelessness and hunger during these tough economic times, we knew immediately who our candidate would be," said Shuda.

To read the FULL Press Release, click here.


Three more amazing community members from The "We Are Winning" Documentary.

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.

If you’ve already watched the documentary introduction just select one of the Docu-Clips below or click here to watch the Documentary Introduction by Chris Megison.

Mark Henschen - from the business sector

Mark Henschen, Circulation Director of the North County Times Newspaper describes how Solutions for Change is like a miracle for the hundreds of children and families being helped. “This place is nothing short of a miracle. The interesting thing is that they have tapped into the burning desire of the people within this community who desperately want and need real solutions to this vexing problem. Working together with the community, people helping people, a new model called the Solutions University was built that literally transforms the lives of whole families and entire communities. I watched as Chris and Tammy Megison built the North County Hawker program from the ground up into one of the most successful newspaper hawking operations in the country. They took that same passion and drive and have since built a national model for solving family homelessness. If any community in the nation wants to really end this thing, you need to come here and see this.”

Otto Schneider – from the faith sector

Otto Schneider, a retired United States Navy Chaplain still very active in community service, talks about how the church community struggles with addressing the problems around family homelessness. Says Mr. Schneider, “the church plays a vital role in any community when dealing with these social issues, but the problem is that they are not equipped to handle the myriad of problems related to a family losing their home, their car, their job, their health and who are now homeless with children. Often times they try to help but what ends up happening is that the best the church can do is contain the problem. And containment can be a disaster. Families get the much needed spiritual guidance, which is great, but they also desperately need real practical help with health related disabilities, addiction recovery, employment related training, parenting skills, and affordable housing, to name a few. Solutions for Change is the answer because the church can be involved in a purposeful and meaningful way while working within the Solutions University structure towards achieving the goals needed to solve homelessness for kids and for our community.”

Catherine Trout-Lichterman – from the government sector

Catherine Trout-Lichterman, Housing Director of the County of San Diego shared (just before retiring after over 20 years of public service) about how the government sector makes a difference in the lives of homeless families and children. Says Ms. Lichterman, “Anytime you see a group of citizens come together around solving a problem it becomes a very powerful thing and it becomes a win for the region as a whole. It’s very gratifying to know that the funding that we administer is used for those purposes and with those results and with those positive outcomes.” The County of San Diego continues to invest public funds into the housing programs and services provided by Solutions for Change.

September 4, 2009

One Family's Story...

"My name is April, and I would like to share my story of success with Solutions for Change program. I cannot imagine what my life would be today had I not ended up on the Solutions for Change doorstep.

It was just a few years ago and as a young 20-something wife I wasn't much worried about anything. My husband made good money, we lived in a decent place... life was pretty good. But due to some bad decisions and immaturity I messed up and spent two months in jail. Shortly thereafter I became pregnant. The relationship with my husband feel apart and we separated. All of a sudden my life started to spiral out of control. I applied to several recovery and housing programs and did not meet the criteria to enter those programs. My last stop was Solutions for Change, if I was turned away, I did not know what would happen to me and my unborn child.

On July 3, 2007 I entered the Solutions for Change program, scared and unsure of what was to come. The program was stringent, but I had a child on the way and needed a place to get my life in order. I was willing to do whatever was needed to end my homelessness, regain my life, be a loving mother to my child and be a successful woman.

My son Joseph was born on Christmas Eve and as of September 2009, I have been sober and drug free for almost three years. I was given the opportunity to help with the Solutions for Change childcare program and activities. Additionally, I work in the evenings at the intake shelter, which is a very rewarding experience. I have the opportunity to warmly welcome new residents, share with them my personal experiences. I have the blessing of watching the transformation that occurs - the same transformation that occurred in me.

Thanks to Solutions for Change, I have permanently ended my homelessness; my son has a safe, loving environment in which to grow up in. I am now moving forward with my college study in Child Development. None of this would have been possible without the support and love I received from Solutions for Change."

We thank you for reading our stories and your continued support of our Solutions University.

Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

September 2, 2009

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words...

A picture is worth a thousand words. Solutions For Change solves family homelessness in 1,000 days for one family, one community at a time.

Be part of the change - for today, tomorrow and forever.

Click here to join the cause.

September 1, 2009

"We Are Winning" Documentary Continues...

Here are 3 more videos from the "We Are Winning" Documentary on members of one community in America who are SOLVING Family Homelessness.

The project was lauded by officials in Sacramento and Washington D.C. as one of the greatest multijurisdictional collaborative efforts ever developed around solving family homelessness. Recognizing that there was plenty of access to temporary solutions through emergency winter shelters and feeding programs, this communitywide initiative developed an integrated and comprehensive access around permanent solutions using a new model called the Solutions University. Vista Mayor Morris Vance’s leadership was instrumental in bringing the public and private sectors together around a common vision of solving family homelessness for kids and communities. Says Mayor Vance; “the programs provided by Solutions for Change transforms people’s lives. It is something to us here in our community that is very special, in that it provides long term solutions.”

Sarah Nichelson isn’t your average every day banker. Sarah describes how the principles of North Island Credit Union and Solutions for Change came together around the common goal of making a healthier community around the idea of “giving back”. Solutions for Change is an organization that equips those that it helps, the actual residents of their programs, to get out in the community and give back to help others. As an example, when Katrina hit, the residents of the Solutions programs organized a community wide project, engaged more residents of other shelters and collected over $20,000 which then went to relief efforts to aid the Katrina victims. Says Sarah; “I don’t think that in all my years of banking have I ever been so connected to a nonprofit that changes lives like that of Solutions for Change.”

Vern Soderstrom, Volunteer and Rotarian – from the civic sector

It is simply one of the greatest projects I've seen, and I've spent 40 years in government." Every community in America has a Vern Soderstrom. Vern served 40 years in the public sector, and as a longtime Rotarian he remains active in his Vista community still serving and helping others.

Promises Made

Dear fellow believers in change,

When it comes to helping families in crisis and giving kids who've lost everything something to hope for, the people in and around the Solutions for Change organization know what it’s like to believe in the impossible. Now that you are getting more involved in our cause we want you to start believing too…

In 1999 the Solutions vision was born. It was a simple vision that started with a nine year old homeless girl’s tug on a shelter workers sleeve and an innocent question: “excuse me mister but could I have a pillow please?” This little girl had no home. Her dresser was a black hefty trash bag and her bed as a half inch thick green Army mat on the floor of a church. When she got the pillow Amy was so happy because back then there weren’t enough pillows for the hundreds of homeless children seeking help.

Something happened in that moment and a promise was made to Amy and all the other little boys and girls. A promise that meant whatever it would take to SOLVE the root problems of this horrible thing called homelessness. A promise that meant that others would be engaged in a PURPOSEFUL and MEANINGFUL way around a plan to DEFEAT homelessness for these kids. Could we really solve this thing so that families and children could build a future that didn’t include being stuck in a dependency cycle of welfare, soup kitchens and shelters?

Feeding and sheltering would be done of course, but 90% of the plan would take place around what would happen AFTER the bowl of soup and the warm shelter bed was given. It was quickly learned that solving something as complex as homelessness wasn’t going to be easy. Many groups were feeding and sheltering the homeless and meeting their immediate needs but there was a massive gap separating the access to temporary solutions which seemed to be plentiful, and access to permanent solutions which were woefully nonexistent and which if available, would interestingly greatly reduce the need for the other.

It’s easy to get in the trap of containing homelessness and managing its symptoms by feeding and sheltering because feeding and sheltering is easy to do, but it’s really REALLY hard to develop partnerships around a plan to solve the underlying issues related to poverty, addiction, domestic violence, under-education and unemployment….to name a few. Solving it could happen with a big plan around a big attitude and that is why the name Solutions for Change was chosen. And so a plan was made and big attitudes were born. Then the real work began.

We built the plan around three core areas: 1) Improve Health (mental, emotional, behavioral and spiritual), 2) Equip with education and skills that would increase income, 3) Achieve housing stability. Activate the plan not in a shelter or a soup kitchen environment but in a “university type” setting where families could live, learn and work together to get equipped with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to solve their problems and defeat homelessness, permanently.
Now ten years later Amy isn’t homeless anymore. She grew up, graduated High School and now attends college. 542 families with over a thousand kids believed and are no longer homeless today because the idea of hope and change meant hard work, learning to be accountable and responsible and developing partnerships with others who would equip - NOT give hand outs or foster dependency.

Solutions took its message of SOLVING this thing to the community and thousands of people from all the different sectors of the community responded. Church folks, business leaders, civic organizations…just average people. The Solutions University was created and now on any given day 60 families work hard to transform their lives within its walls. It’s still not easy. Solving something as complex as homelessness just is never easy. The Solutions staff, residents, volunteers and supporters work tirelessly to help families get equipped with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to defeat this thing.

We need you to help us. We need you to believe. Now more than ever we MUST believe that we can solve this thing called family homelessness for kids and communities. Join us in believing. Sign up on our Twitter and FaceBook pages. Recruit your friends. Spread the word. Come visit us. Save lives with us. Solutions for Change is not just a name, it’s a promise! You are now part of the promise.


The Megison's

P.S. It's all divinely navigated anyway so you must be here for a reason.