December 21, 2010

Mercy vs. Compassion Transactions

Have you noticed the increase in compassion transactions for the homeless lately? It's everywhere you look in the media now. Is this really mercy? I don't think that mercy for the homeless should be defined by how many soup bowls or shelter beds or care packages are given out. Of course every homeless person out there needs and appreciates those things. They will smile and you will smile and you will both feel good for awhile. You'll go home and they'll go back to trying to survive. It's not mercy. Call it a transaction of compassion. Because that is what it is. You give. The homeless person takes. You fill an immediate and urgent need. They are grateful. You feel good. And that is it.

Giving of yourself by doing these things is a wonderful thing...and it's immediate. By all means, you should keep doing it because in the absence of access to permanent solutions, temporary fixes and services are better than nothing. But no matter how you rationalize it, it's still a compassion transaction. You do it with one or with one hundred homeless people and that's it. Done. Easy. And that is why we do it...why the thousands of people in churches and groups all over the country do it. Because solving the real causative factors of why the person is homeless to begin with is just too darn hard. But what if...

What if your community had more (better and faster) access to permanent solutions such as permanent supportive housing. What if the "homeless" person could wake up from a nap on a blustery winter afternoon in their OWN little studio, cook a nice hearty bowl of soup for themselves (you can bet if they can survive on the street, they can cook for themselves) and be out of the churning cycle of shelters and services that were endlessly managing the symptoms of their homeless condition. Would that be true mercy?

I think that it would. And I invite you to believe in this way as well.
What if instead of slinging soup bowls, shelter beds and care packages you decided to be part of a long term plan, a real vision with real legs that got shoulder to shoulder with people to SOLVE their problem? What the homeless and the people in your community really need is a shoulder to shoulder partnership that gets out of the rut of the endless churning cycle of managing the symptoms and into real long term solutions such as permanent supportive housing. This, in my opinion, would define your actions as hugely different, very potent and truly merciful.

- Chris Megison

November 25, 2010

Much More To Be Thankful For On This Thanksgiving 2010

On this Thanksgiving Day 2010 I find that there is so much more to be thankful for than past November 25ths. It’s a strange revelation actually because a quick inventory of “stuff” reveals much less. A housing market crash that makes my house worth half of what I bought it for. A flood that caused black mold (which my insurance didn’t cover) causing us to live out of a hotel for the past couple weeks. A car that we just paid off that broke down in the middle of the desert that put a big dent into our family reserves.

On the top of my list always is God’s Grace. For without His Grace, I would be an aimless wreck. It has led this sinner to a life divinely navigated through calm waters or hurricane winds, I right myself true north in His hands.

My health, my wife and best friend and my children who favor me always despite my imperfections. My job and the people who I share my passion with at work. The people that I get to know and build relationships with though my work gives me blessings so immense that at times I am brought to my knees with overwhelming gratitude. The love that is exchanged through the interactions of compassion and kindness overfills my cup. Indeed my cup runneth over.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Chris Megison

November 12, 2010

The ONEKind Foundation Walks to Solve Family Homelessness!

Imagine an organization started by kids who raise awareness and get others involved and motivated to help other kids recover from homelessness. Imagine that these kids move hundreds into action to walk for a cause and a solution to defeat family homelessness in your community. That organization is called ONEKind and this year they have chosen to support North County Solutions for Change. WOW!

I’ve seen a lot of very inspiring things over the course of my work at Solutions for Change but this is at the top of that list. RBV High School students Lauren and Jacqueline got up in front of all of the Solutions for Change parents tonight at and announced that this year for their 3rd Annual Walkathon on Saturday December 4th at the track at Rancho Buena Vista High School in Vista that they were walking for the families and kids of Solutions for Change. If you were in that room tonight you would have been really inspired. It was a special thing to be a part of!

There are a few different ways that you can join in and help:

1. Sponsor me for $7, $14, $21 or $70 bucks. Every $7 increment you give will pay for one LOCAL San Diego homeless child for one day off the street and in a home. It’s super easy…JUST CLICK TO DONATE SECURELY.

2. Join my team called Just Solve It Baby and Be a Walker Solver with me - Just click here, fill out the form and you are in! Come out and be part of the fun and we will walk together!

3. If you dont like me (there are a couple of you out there still :) or you want to start your own team so that you can lap my sorry ass (will be easy to do) then you can START YOUR OWN TEAM.

4. Ask others to help by FORWARDING THIS PAGE and asking your friends and family to join in by either donating, joining the team or both!

You can contact the ONEKind organizer Lauren King directly at in case you have any questions directly of her. These students are really excited about this. Let’s show them that their efforts are not landing on deaf ears. This only takes 3 MINUTES YET YOUR INVOLVEMENT WILL INSPIRE THEM TO BE THE CHANGE MAKERS OF TOMORROW.

Thank you!

November 11, 2010

TaylorMade Golf and 16" Guns

Was having lunch with Mark King, the CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf yesterday, when it hit me. I think it was right about the halfway point of munching down the yummy turkey sandwich that Britt had kindly brought up from the Taylor Made cafeteria.

The feeling reminded me of a moment in time while serving as a Marine, assigned to Battalion Landing Team 3/3 aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Fredrick. We were there to protect U.S. interests as part of a bloody civil war raging on in Beirut, Lebanon. On October 23, 1983 the sudden bombing of our U.S. barracks killed 241 Marine and Sailors had jarred us all into a surreal reality - we were fighting something much more devious and dangerous than we had thought. We were committed, and motivated and passionate to stand up to this threat. But despite all of the ability and talent and the resources we had, the burning desire and passion we all had could only do so much. We wanted so badly to do something. Some of us got to go ashore and fight back with our Marine counterparts but most of us were stuck floating off shore, watching all the action and feeling insignificant.

Then one day the Battleship USS New Jersey, sitting close to our starboard side, unleashed a massive projectile from her 16 inch guns. This was, we later learned, the first time that a 16 inch gun was fired anywhere in the world since 1969. We stood there in awe of her power. It felt like the whole sea jumped back 50 feet. One by one she fired off 11 of those projectiles and every time she fired one off I felt this incredible relief, this deep knowing that someone, that something on our side was delivering the message that I wanted to deliver, that all of my fellow Marines standing there with me needed to deliver, but couldn't.

That is the same feeling I got yesterday as I listened to Mark King, the CEO of a global company, talk to me about how he and the employee's of TaylorMade Golf are going to help equip us with the "big guns" so that we will be able to turn up the heat even more and stand up in a bigger and bolder way to this threat on our children and our families.

I thought 2010 was a banner year for us in terms of our impact around changing attitudes and rebuilding lives....but it isn’t anything compared to what 2011 will bring. The partnership with TaylorMade-adidas Golf fires off a redemptive and a glorious warning shot across the battlefield of homelessness here in San Diego and beyond. Indeed this is a very good thing.

I also heard Mark acknowledge yesterday that the threats on our children and on our communities are too big for one battleship, even with those massive 16 inch guns. We need more big guns. More boots on the ground. More investors willing to equip solutions driven organizations like ours with the resources needed to defeat family homelessness. Mark said in the documentary taping yesterday that Solutions for Change has the vision, the model and the plan that people in every community in America want and need. Mark concluded with these words: “This is what people have been searching for, to be part of a purpose driven movement that solves the problem. I hear people around me expressing a sense of relief that this is finally the right battle plan with the right attitudes and the right generals. All that is needed now are more people to get involved who want to solve this thing."

November 3, 2010

San Diego's Winter Shelter Merry-Go-Round

Will San Diego ever get unstuck from the containment trap that it has crafted around itself? Containing the impacts of homelessness and managing its symptoms using shelters and other temporary services hasn't worked, can't work...will never work. Spin it, shake it, bake it any way you want but until you abandon the old battle plan all you'll have is a spiffy system of controlling and managing the impacts of homelessness. You'll never break free. Hint #1: Government can't fix hurting people or rebuild broken lives. Hint #2: Move your community capital around a vision of defeating the impacts of homelessness...stop being wimpy. Stop meeting and planning and meeting and planning and meeting and....Just solve it baby.

October 2, 2010

Hey dude, are you Tri-Morbid?

Tri-Morbid. How aweful sounding. That's the new description for a homeless person who has a lot of issues. If you've been reading the Union Tribune lately you've seen the controversy. Here are some random thoughts in response to a recent story about the survey that was conducted which classified 118 homeless people tri-morbid.

The impacts of homelessness on the community of San Diego and its people can be defeated, but these impacts are gaining momentum and are stronger now than ever. Not because of a shortage of money, or people that care, or because you don’t have enough shelter beds or feeding programs. And certainly not because you’ve performed or not performed the best surveys ever….The impacts of homelessness on the great city of San Diego are crushing you all because you continue to use a battle plan that simply CAN NOT win. It’s a battle plan designed at its core to FAIL. It’s a battle plan based on serving instead of solving, on managing impacts instead of addressing the causes of those impacts.

In a simple nutshell (very simple) you are getting your collective asses handed to you because you are deploying massive amounts of community capital using the WRONG intervention and engagement strategy directed at the WRONG subgroup of homeless. The intervention and engagement strategy for a homeless mentally ill person is entirely different than the intervention and engagement strategy for an active addict which is completely different than the plan for someone who lost their home and job due to the recession.

There are communities across the nation that are aligning their resources, money, people and leadership around winnable battle plans. Before San Diego can solve its homeless problem you will have to change attitudes. There are two camps: the help the homeless camp and the don’t help the homeless camp. I would recommend that you start working on developing a third camp. It’s the camp where the other two camps can join in and work together towards one unified goal: defeat the impacts of homelessness. Solve it for the homeless AND solve it for the community. Stop doing one at the expense of the other.

September 25, 2010

Stand Up!

It's coming and its coming big! 21 days from today hundreds of people from all over Southern California come together to stand up to the impacts of homelessness on America's children. Countdown to the Finding Our Way Home Benefit Concert with Christopher Cross starts right now. Are you in? Buy now!

July 9, 2010

BandAids Come in Many Different Sizes, Shapes and Colors...Be Wary Of The One That Looks Like a House.

So...after a short break, I reopen with a shameless excuse as to why you should take 5 minutes once a week or so to read this thing. You won't find many people with this perspective - so deeply imbedded in the war on poverty and family homelessness in middle America - saying the kind of crazy stuff that I say.

Things like:

1. ABANDON. Not tweak, modify, realign or retool (the new word our federal government is using). Knock, knock. You know that battle plan that we've used to fight homelessness for the past 50 years? Yeah that one, the one that has been managing symptoms and containing impacts with dependency and entitlement programs which has resulted in more homeless people today than ever before....IT HAS NOT WORKED!

2. REDESIGN. So after we throw out the old battle plan. The one that is spending billions of dollars on managing the symptoms of homelessness and creating more homeless people, we need to replace it with a different battle plan. One that has the capacity to crush homelessness. I like to use the word "crush" because when I served as U .S. Marine Corp Sergeant we would say real bad sounding ego driven 25 year old stupid stuff like "we crushed the enemy". I guess it made us feel like a team of super heroes but what I think it really meant was that the enemy would not be returning....anytime soon. Likewise, we need to make this so that the impacts of homelessness on our families, our neighbors and our communities never come back. Stop messing around. Bring out the big guns that are capable of moving people into permanent solutions. You know my preference is the Solutions University model because it provides all the access to permanent solutions that a person needs to acquire the skills, knowledge and resources needed to solve homelessness, permanently. But every community is different. Unfetter the change makers, bring on the social entrepreneur, fire up the beyond the soup bowl activator. Just do it and watch what happens.

NOTE: A quick note on the redesign thing. BandAids come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. Be wary of the one that looks like a house.

3. REIMAGINE. Hundreds of thousands of Americans not homeless anymore and OUT of the system. Hundreds of millions of dollars freed up to use on other more pressing issues that our government can....hopefully put to good use. Billions of dollars into the economy because thousands of people are off the dole and on the tax rolls. Good neighbors. Healthy families. Healthy communities.

Lets stay in touch...


April 23, 2010

Finding Our Way Home

Yesterday marked the launch of a 1000 day communitywide initiative to solve family homelessness for kids and communities. Elected officials, CEO's, Pastors and civic leaders from all over nothern San Diego County came together to kick off the Finding our Way Home campaign.

Here is the written version of Chris Megison's presentation:

My Fellow Believers of Change – To each of you that have come today because you believe that solving family homelessness for kids and communities is real…I say to you that the impacts of homelessness on our children have finally met its match. I know this to be true, because today is the first day that the impacts of homelessness on our kids have met YOU!

Today marks day one of FINDING OUR WAY HOME, a 1000 day commitment by people in one community in America who have said: Enough is enough – we will not stand for the children in this community, in my community, to be without a place to call home any longer.

Finding Our Way Home is a grassroots initiative about all of us, working together around a winnable plan, finding our way back to the place that we need to be as a community.

People helping people BY moving families in crisis, our neighbors and ourselves around a vision, a model and a plan to solve this thing called family homelessness. We will do this together, one family, one community at a time.

You are part of this important effort because you realize that, yes indeed, we have lost our way.

In 2010 the impacts of homelessness will now impinge on 1.5 million American children. This means that 1 in 50 kids will lose their home. For most of these kids, homelessness will be a short episode, but for hundreds of thousands of children the impacts of homelessness will be harsh. They will bounce around from sleeping in a car, to getting a motel voucher, to bedding down at an emergency shelter. All the while their moms will desperately try to keep their kids safe.

How many children, you ask…will homelessness seek out and find from our North County community? Based on the reports of 1 in 50, there will be over 12,000 of our kids who will experience losing their home. Most will be episodic or temporary homelessness, recovering within a short time, but for about 1600 children, yes…for one thousand, six hundred of our innocent children…homelessness will be severe. These are the kids that the Finding Our Way Home initiative will reach out and save.

Meantime the impacts of family homelessness bear down hard on communities across the country…as we know; right here in San Diego is no exception. It is expensive to manage the symptoms of homelessness through a “containment” approach. Emergency rooms, crisis intervention, CPS intercession’s, the excessive burdens placed on our law enforcement and justice system and the plethora of entitlement programs reacting to the emergency needs are very costly and largely ineffective towards activating long term permanent solutions. We need a solution.

Hundreds of thousands of families and over one million kids have lost their way.

Hundreds of communities have lost their way as they struggle to deal with this crisis.

But here in the community known as North San Diego County today, for hundreds of families and for our community we are saying that it is time. IT IS TIME TO FIND OUR WAY HOME. Now. It’s time right now to square off against the impacts of homelessness on our kids and communities. And, as you can see in this room those impacts have met some very serious people from all over the North County and from all the different sectors of this community.

Because solving something as tough as family homelessness should not be the job of just the government, the church, or the nonprofits. It takes all sectors of the community: business, civic, church and faith, government, education and individuals working together around a winnable plan to SOLVE family homelessness. People helping people. Not any one sector being expected to solve this thing, but people working together with other people around a plan. Not the government. Not the church. Not the nonprofit. But people in all those sectors, using whatever resources are available, to help solve this thing. Not control it. Not manage the symptoms of it. Not ignore it.

For the purposes of this initiative, the word solve will mean: developing access to permanent solutions. It doesn’t mean giving away free housing. It doesn’t mean cheap housing in and of itself. It doesn’t mean throwing shelter beds and soup bowls at the problem. It means equipping the family with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to defeat this thing called homelessness. Not for a week or a few months, but permanently. Yeah that is a BHAG…a Big. Hairy, Audacious, Goal.

But for us, for the people in this room right now, for the hundreds more who have accepted the call to action, for the dozens of parents working hard every day getting up, suiting up and showing up for their kids, for the 128 of children here now…and for those not here who are waiting for us to help them Find Their Way Home, we simply cannot and will not fail. The term “failure is not an option” was termed by a Marine. I learned that as a Marine and I live by that today. And I am proud to be in this room right now with other men and woman who feel the same way, who live by that same creed.

Folks, we are here to lock arms and hearts around a simple yet powerful call to action to help hundreds of children find their way back home and in doing so, we will all find our way as well.

I think that we have it in us; I believe that you have it in you, to be an American community to say that the impacts of homelessness on our children have been defeated. Maybe we will be the trail blazers for the rest of the country and we will be the first.

But what I do know for sure is that we are going to rebuild hundreds of futures for families and save a lot of little lives. I am so proud of each one of you for stepping up today for our kids and our community. Thank you for standing up to the impacts of homelessness on our children.

April 5, 2010

Seven Families Defeat Homelessness - at Packed Graduation Ceremony

On April 1st of this year I attended an exceptional evening of joy and encouragement, the memory of which will be with me for many days to come.

Hosted by North County Solutions for Change, the event was held at the Lifeway Church in Vista and was the celebration of the graduation of 7 homeless families and their 13 children who had successfully completed their commitment to be self supporting and had just moved on to a home or apartment of their own. The meeting area was packed with people who have played a part in the success of those who would testify. As part of the agenda, each head of the 7 households told their stories, recalling their difficulties before being accepted into the Solutions family, their determination, hard work (sometimes 2 or 3 jobs by the adult) and their appreciation of the support by staff, volunteers and other Solutions residents. Between tears, pride and caring for others were expressed with regularity and many who witnessed this outpouring were in awe of those who spoke. Most of the graduates had come from the depths of despair to a new day of independence and self-confidence. The conclusion of this ceremony was marked by most of the attendees forming a series of circles within other circles becoming a “group hug” and reciting the Lords Prayer.

But I could not help reflecting that the day before many of the temporary winter shelters for the homeless in North County were closed until the next “winter” cycle begins the following November. Where would the homeless go – how would they survive? How would the children enroll in school without having a real address when living in a park or a van and would they be counted in the census? The support by the cities, businesses, caring individuals and faith based organizations has been remarkable and all those who gave funding and volunteer care for the homeless are to be commended. However I have an awareness that this national problem may only continue to grow, particularly if there is not a significant upturn in the economy.

Solutions for Change was founded on the premise that providing shelter was only the first step and that children should have first call on the security of a place to call home. Our mission has not changed and over the 10 years of its existence over 1700 souls have worked their way out of homelessness to being in a place of their own.

Perhaps the model of Solutions for Change could be made available to those who will not settle for half the answer. As Chris Megison is fond of saying – “Give a man a fish and he will eat today. Give a man a fishing pole, teach him how to use it, throw in a tackle box...and he will eat forever”

Gene Ford
Solutions for Change

Finding Our Way Home, an initiative to solve family homelessness will be launched on April 22nd! April 22nd will mark day 1 of this 1,000 Day Initiative led by Solutions for Change. Leaders from all sectors of the community here in San Diego have joined together in order to put forth this initiative which will change our communities and futures for our children. The 1,000 day goal will be to equip 200 homeless families with the skills, knowledge and resources they need to fight their way back… to a home, to a community and to dignity.

We invite you to come a long with us on this 1,000 day initiative in order to witness the incredible transformations which will change futures for our children - for today, tomorrow and forever!

March 25, 2010

Watch for this Commercial!

For all you Channel 6 viewers out there - watch for this commercial and make sure to go to and click on the banner to register for the tournament! We'll see you at Maderas!

Golfers, you Ready?

Housing California Conference!

On April 28th our Executive Director, Chris Megison will have the opportunity to host a workshop on our revolutionary model to solve family homelessness; the Solutions University. This workshop is part of the Housing California Conference which takes place in Sacramento from April 26th - April 28th and is an exciting opportunity to share and spread awareness about the Solutions University. To see the full details about the conference, please click on the link below. The Solutions University is highlighted on page 14.

Click Here for Full Details on the Conference

March 24, 2010

Our Marathon Blogger: Slow & Steady…With Walk Breaks

Last weekend called for a 21-mile run on the first day of Spring. Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, I headed out with my friend Gail to start my run at Torrey Pines. The day was picturesque, and I soaked in every minute of a 4 hour and 20 minute run. The people who know me now are not surprised that I spent a good portion of my Sunday running outside, but I’ll let you in on a little secret…several years ago I couldn’t run for 5 minutes, let alone 260 minutes. So how did I do it?

It started with running just a single mile. I told myself that I didn’t have to run the entire time, I only had to make it a mile. So I jogged (very) slowly and took walk breaks every 2 minutes until I reached my goal. I’m not sure how long it took me, but that’s not important because distance, not time, was my goal. I wanted to cover one mile, and that’s what I did.

Many people think they won’t like running because they have a preconceived notion that it’s all about going fast and running the entire time with no breaks. I once felt the same way. I hated running because I had flat feet that slowed me down, and I hated the burn in my throat and throbbing in my head when I ran too fast. As with anything in life, you have to figure out what works for you. Running fast didn’t work for me. Turns out I’m really good at running slowly and taking short walk breaks along the way. After I knew I could do a mile, I added half of a mile to my distance every week, still running slowly and taking those walk breaks. Once I reached 6 miles, my next goal was to run a half-marathon.

When that day came, I stood at the starting line and looked around. It was one of the most motivating sights I have ever taken in. I saw old runners, young runners, overweight runners. I saw runners with just one leg, runners with no legs—only prosthetics, and I saw blind runners. We were all in it together, and our common goal of finishing this race had connected us all.

I’m not going to lie: That half marathon was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. But I did it, and believe it or not, the very next day I registered for a full marathon.

I treated it the same way I had treated that first mile and every mile since. I added mileage each week, still taking walk breaks. On May 25, 2009, I ran all 26.2 miles of the San Diego Rock N’ Roll Marathon, and I loved every minute of it. I knew then that I was hooked on marathons, but I needed a new goal, a new challenge.

Two months later, I found it. Deeply inspired after meeting Chris Megison and visiting Solutions for Change, I returned to my old list of goals and dreams. I realized that I could combine my love of running and my desire to help others by dedicating my next marathon to raising money in support of Solutions for Change.

When I run the Big Sur Marathon next month, each mile will mean more to me than any mile I have run before. The generosity that my friends, family, and the Solutions staff have put towards my fundraising efforts has been exceptional. If you’re interested, there’s still time left to donate. Check out my fundraising page here

Until next time,


March 19, 2010

Solutions Residents are Graduating!

Over the past 10 years over 542 Families have graduated from the Solutions University program. Our revolutionary model empowers the effects to be permanently instilled into these families and most importantly it changes the futures for the children. We would like to share an opportunity for you to come and be part of the change by attending our upcoming graduation ceremony:

You are cordially invited to the Solutions for Change Commencement and Graduation Ceremony recognizing the achievement of seven families who have completed a major milestone in their commitment to permanently solving homelessness. The parents of these families have completed the requirements for successful completion of the Solutions Family Center - the first 500 days in the Solutions University program. Through their dedication and hard work, these six mothers and one father have equipped themselves with the skills, knowledge and resources needed to defeat homelessness. They have been employed, paying rent, learning and applying new skills and providing for the well being of their children. They are now re-housed and re-staked back into our community as healthy, happy and productive members of our North County community.

Please come celebrate their amazing accomplishment, their journey out of homelessness. Hear their comeback trail stories and experience the incredible feeling of being part of the change that saves lives.

Special: Meet the alumni of the Solutions University as they welcome them back into our San Diego community.

If you are a community partner, an investor or volunteer with Solutions for Change, this is an event that you do not want to miss. If the Solutions for Change cause and our vision to solve family homelessness for kids and communities hasn’t already impacted you in a meaningful way, this evening will change everything you know and think about homelessness. You will be Solutionized.

March 17, 2010

Our Marathon Blogger: One Step Forward

My training plan for the week called for some heavy duty hills. The picture is from the top of the hill I ran last Saturday, 1,200-foot ascent that I climbed twice. Not too long ago even the thought of running up a hill would overwhelm me, but I’ve learned to take them one small step at a time. Instead of focusing on how many miles or minutes I have until I reach the top, I now concentrate on each step I’m taking at the present moment.

Life works the same way. Sometimes it’s hard for us to reach our goals because we are too focused on the final outcome, how big it is or how far away it is from where we now stand. With all the attention put on the end goal, we are often left feeling overwhelmed and frozen with fear – fear of failure, the unknown, or the uncontrollable. But all we need to do is to just start and take one step in the direction of the final goal. When we break down our goals into manageable pieces, into small steps, it’s much easier to move forward.

What are your dreams? What goals have you always wanted to achieve? Have you written a list of the things you want to accomplish in your lifetime, in the next five years, in the next year, or in the next month? Two years ago I made a list of my goals. Although a few items dropped off the list because they lost importance to me, there were two key goals that remained. One was to run a marathon and the other was to do something to help others. At the time I had no idea how I was going to accomplish either goal, or that one day the two goals would intersect, but by putting them in writing I had taken the first step toward achieving them.

Next week I’ll write about the steps I took to transform myself from someone who couldn’t run a single mile without stopping into to someone who’s now running 26.2 miles in support of Solutions for Change. Until then, take your first step forward in achieving your goals and start making your list.

Until Next Time,


March 12, 2010

Mr. President, we HAVE the Solution!

We are proud to announce that Solutions for Change is now listed on the United States Interagency on the Homeless website as one of the “solutions to family homelessness”. This agency will report to Congress and President Obama on various approaches, models and community strategies regarding all homeless, but is particularly interested on programs that work to solve family homelessness. We are currently ranked 25th in the nation as far as “ideas” on solving family homelessness.

Here is another opportunity for you to be Part of the Change! It is as simple as casting 1 vote to help us move up the ranks! :)

Here is what we are asking you to do:

1) Click on the following link: Provide Access to Permanent Solutions by Funding the Solutions University

2) Sign Up


BONUS: Leave a comment if you wish!

Thank you for your continued support!

Change can be made, not only here in North County, San Diego, but across our beautiful country!

-The Solutions University

March 9, 2010

Our Marathon Blogger: 18 Miles and 7 Ways to Help

As part of my training to run 26.2 miles at the Big Sur Marathon in support of Solutions for Change, I completed an 18-mile practice run on the coast this past weekend. With my (slow) pace, I was on the road running for over 3.5 hours – that meant I had a lot of time to think and reflect. I was thankful to have my friend Kacy for support along the way and keep me company for the first 11 miles, but after that I was on my own.

As I ran the remaining 7 miles, I started to think about all the ways one could get involved with helping organizations like Solutions for Change. It can be hard to find time or think of ways to help, so I hope the list below will give you some ideas.

1. Do what you love. For me I love running so I’ve found a way to combine my passion for running with fundraising.

2. Spread the word. Become a fan of your cause on Facebook and encourage your friends to become fans. If you haven’t already, become a fan of Solutions for Change.

3. Start Spring cleaning. What may seem old to you is brand new to someone else. If you haven’t used it or worn it in over a year, you probably won’t use it or wear it again so donate it. Do you have used books, CDs, and DVDs? Find out how Solutions for Change can turn those donations into real change$.

4. Volunteer your strengths. What you do in your day-to-day job could be helpful for a non-profit. If you’re in marketing, volunteer to help with outreach efforts. If you’re in construction, volunteer to do repairs. If you’re a chef, volunteer to make a meal. You get the idea.

5. Engage the community. We all have a favorite restaurant or store that we often frequent. Ask owners if they do anything to support local non-profits or charities, and tell them about the cause you support. You never know, they might be able to help.

6. Get your company involved. Ask if your company would be willing to sponsor a donation or clothing/food/goods drive and promote it to employees.

7. Learn more. Sometimes we don’t know how to help, because we just haven’t asked. Reach out to a non-profit that you’re interested in and ask what you can do.

- Sam

March 8, 2010

The Need for Change is Calling Our Name

By special invitation of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), I had the privilege of participating in last Tuesday’s Community Stakeholder Meeting in San Francisco on the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness. I was one of a handful present from Southern California and according to one of the organizer’s the only one from San Diego County. The purpose was to collect input from us stakeholders which would then be used to assist the USICH in preparing a report that will be submitted to Congress and the President on May 20, 2010. I was very pleased to see a strong emphasis placed on addressing family homelessness.

The forum itself was okay. Lots of energy and good ideas. But what struck me the most was the gut wrenching contrast 500 feet to my right. Despite the optimism, it didn’t take long for me to remember that right outside the doors from where I sat were the glaring outcomes of similar meetings in March 2004, held in this same building. In those meetings a group of very capable and dedicated people began crafting a plan to abolish chronic homelessness. Months later they submitted the plan entitled San Francisco’s Ten Year Plan to end chronic homelessness to the Mayor. They met 85 times in four months and engaged more than 785 individuals representing 400 organizations.

The plan, like its counterpart “Ten Year Plans” in other cities across the country, was activated with much passion and commitment around a very serious goal of ending chronic homelessness. Now six years into this ten year plan you don’t need me to analyze the results. If you were here with me you would have met three of the roughly 40 souls I encountered during my ten minute walk from the hotel to City Hall. Martha, Thomas and Oscar all of whom did their best to aggressively panhandle me (Oscar was quite persuasive) represent three of the more than 2500 chronic homeless still churning around on the streets of San Francisco. I know there has been progress and I commend the effort made but all of you reading this must know in your gut that the ROE, the Return on Energy, with all the concerted effort, from such dedicated people, executed over so many years, is way way off the mark. Why?

So once again I offer the opening conversation points for any group concerned about homelessness in their communities:

ABANDON the old failed battle plan of managing the symptoms of homelessness. Stop treating homelessness like a disease that has to be contained and start looking at the impacts of homelessness on human beings and communities as a solvable condition. REDESIGN using a new vision and a winnable battle plan. Start with throwing out the phrase “end homelessness”. It has lost all credibility. Cast your vision around “solving homelessness”. Define “solve” as this: access to permanent solutions. There are three types of homeless (not a judgment, just a clear way to talk about a complicated issue) – The Have Not, the Can Not and the Will Not. Each one needs a very different engagement and intervention strategy. Hint: Treating a Will Not like a Can Not is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. This is the one huge mistake that many communities continue to make and it is costing them dearly. Once you start having this conversation at 30,000 ft. you will begin the strategic process of defeating the impacts of homelessness on human beings AND community and you will REIMAGINE your community homeless free.

- Chris Megison

March 4, 2010

An inspired 52 Day Countdown...

Here at Solutions University we are making a change in the way people think about the homeless, how we solve, not contain homelessness and how we provide people with access to permanent solutions rather than containment solutions. The change is made by our incredible staff, community partners, corporate partners and individuals and most importantly the change is made by the people themselves who are enrolled in our university.

One of our valued supporters is doing her part to be part of the change; running 26.2 miles for our families. Why? Because she is changing futures, not only for the kids and families, but for our communities. For the next few weeks leading up to her marathon in Big Sur, we will follow how one individual commits herself to being part of the change. Enjoy :)


I wanted to thank you all for all the wonderful support you have sent my way and the many donations you have made to North County Solutions for Change. I’ve reached 75% of my fundraising goal so far…but there’s still more to go.

While my training has not gone completely as planned, with a minor back injury setting me back a bit, I am more determined than ever to reach my marathon and fundraising goal. Even if I have to walk half of the marathon, even if I don’t finish within their time limit, you can bet that I will do all that I can to support this important cause.


Solutions for Change has been helping homeless families in North County San Diego for over ten years. The average age of a resident at Solutions for Change is 8 years old. Can you imagine being an 8 year old living in a car, or in a tent with no roof over your head, no warm shower and no way out? Well, this is what Solutions for Change has been working to end.

Solutions for Change doesn’t just service people, they create partnerships between the families and the community. They’re solving family homelessness for kids and communities, permanently. It’s all about breaking the cycle of homelessness.


1. Donate on my fundraising page – all donations go directly to Solutions for Change

2. Become a fan on the Solutions for Change Facebook page and help spread the word They are trying to reach 600 fans this week. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could help them reach this goal!

3. Donate your used books, CDs or DVDs. With the help from many of the moms in the Solutions program, they take your books, CDs, and DVDs and post them on The money brought in with each item sold on goes directly back into the Solutions program. Not only do they raise money, but by engaging the moms in a meaningful, structured work environment, they learn basic job skills and gain confidence while building a foundation for their new life. If you’re interested let me know and we’ll figure out a way to get your donations to Solutions for Change.

One Book, CD or DVD = One Homeless Child’s Life Changed for One Day!

Thank you again to everyone who has supported me and Solutions for Change.

- Sam

Supporter. Runner. Blogger.

March 2, 2010

Mark your Calendars for March 21st!

"Young Artists in Recital"
When: March 21st @ 3:00pm
Where: Meadowlark Church in San Marcos
1918 Redwing St. San Marcos
Cost: $10.00 Suggested Donation at the door.

Be Part of the Change and join us at this fantastic event!

February 26, 2010

Rubios Event Re-Cap...

Earlier this month, we were selected as the beneficiary by Rubios for one of their new location grand openings. Rubios is amazing - for every new location they open, they select a charity in that specific area to highlight and help raise money for.

Since Rubios is headquartered right here in San Diego, their new store in Vista is literally in their backyard! It proved to be a successful opening with over 300 people in attendance. Each attendee was asked to make a donation to our university and in-turn they were able to eat and drink as much as their hearts desired for 2 hours. We greatly appreciate all of you who attended the event and cannot thank Rubios enough for their desire to help our organization and for 100% of the proceeds. Rubios, you are now Part of the Change!

Above is a picture of the fantastic Rubios Team with one of our staff members.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Your Solutions University Staff

February 23, 2010

Thinking Outside the (Cardboard) Box

Straight from our Executive Director of the Solutions University:

Two decades of being on the front lines as an advocate for the homeless and for programs that solve homelessness have taught me a couple of things about the reactions of people when it comes to this issue. In the spirit of trying to keep things simple here in this blog, the following are some basic thoughts regarding this complex problem.

Most people when they think of homelessness fall into one of two camps: Help them, or don’t help them. Let’s see how this simple concept (of help, don’t help) plays out here and in communities across the country.

The people that help are moved to help for different reasons, sometimes religious, sometimes just personal. But the way that most choose to help (because it seems to be such a big problem) is usually around what I call symptom relief. Example: you see a guy panhandling and give a buck, you volunteer at a soup kitchen to feed the hungry, or you give $100 to the local emergency shelter to help provide a warm bed. These are the usual ways to help the homeless, and these are all temporary solutions. The help isn’t meant to solve the person’s homelessness; it’s an act of compassion that relieves the person’s burden for a moment or a day. The giver feels good. The receiver of the compassion feels a little better. But when tomorrow comes, or next month, the person will almost always have the same symptoms, they will be hungry, cold and lonely – they will still be homeless. And there will always be people who want to help to relieve those burdens. New programs spring up to “help” the homeless using the same compassion principles. In response to the needs of the homeless, they acquire and deploy lots of resources.

Now let’s do a little experiment. Let’s say that in 1980 there were 1000 of these homeless people in a city of one million people. Using this approach of symptom relief, two hundred homeless people (20%) get out of homelessness (I think it’s much lower but we will go with 20%). The other 800 are still homeless, but now it’s a new year and there are 1000 more new homeless people. So now there are 1800 homeless in our city. Three hundred and sixty or 20% of those get out and now the remaining 1440 join the new 1000 and now there are 2440 homeless in our city. Flash forward to 2010. A recession or two, skyrocketing housing costs and cost of living increases produce more than 1000 new homeless during many of those past years and at the end of this thirty year experiment there are now thousands upon thousands of homeless people. The impact on human life is pretty bad because many of these folks are churning around in a system that specializes in managing their symptoms instead of solving the underlying causative factors. But here is the other thing that we overlook - by using this approach (I call it the containment approach) the impacts on our community are also really bad.

When you hear me talk about the negative impacts of homelessness on human beings and communities using a failed battle plan, this is what I am talking about. This is the old way, the old battle plan and it has failed us miserably. I have no doubt that my peers out there fighting this battle want to defeat the impacts of homelessness on people as bad as I do. The point that I am making is this: it’s not good enough that we fight for the homeless person; we have to fight with them on one shoulder and with people in our community on the other shoulder around a common mission, a joint venture, a unified vision to defeat this thing. Not for a month, or for six months, but permanently. That level of thinking leads to a much different kind of strategy, to a much different design and to a much different type of battle plan.

We cannot win as long as we continue to acquire, manage and deploy resources around the failed battle plan to contain homelessness. It might feel like we are doing some great and wonderful things, but we will not win.

Now here is where you are going to want to smack me in the kneecaps or say Halleluiah and give me a hug. Remember the people that I referred to in that other camp as not wanting to help the homeless? They, in many cases, are the folks that are shell shocked with the failed battle plan described above. It’s not that they don’t care; it’s that most of them hear the word homeless and associate that word with very negative impacts on and in their communities. I learned a long time ago that by being so focused and committed to alleviating the impacts of homelessness on the homeless person, that I might do so at the expense of the community, instead of for the community. I want you to really think about that for a minute. Opening a shelter in the middle of the city may “help” a ton of homeless people, but what if we are doing so at the expense of the community? Yeah, we might be able to mitigate some of those impacts with work crews and “partnerships” but if at the end of the day there are many people in that community that are being negatively impacted, we as the tacticians (as the General’s and Colonels) that are moving resources around on that battle field are failing. We are failing our community.

Hard to think about that scenario? I hope you can look at it honestly because you and I and all of us have a responsibility to stop the containment merry-go-round and start solving this for both the homeless person AND the community. Both can win. Be sick and tired, get fired up, do what our kids sometimes do and say “I’m pissed off”, whatever it takes, just respond to this in a way that says STOP the madness. Please. Get off the merry-go-round. Or better yet, stop spinning it.

There is a third way between the “help” and “don’t help” camps that is rooted in the core values of solving this thing that can engage and move folks (who are sick and tired of the impacts on human beings and community) in both of those camps around a new way to solve homelessness for both the person in crisis and for the community seeking real change.

Reimagine your community with no homeless people in it. Believe that it can happen. Now ask questions on how to get there. Call me 760-497-0041 or email me at and be ready to throw the (cardboard) box out. Thinking outside the box didn't work, so we threw it out.

Truly Yours,

Chris Megison
President and Executive Director
Solutions for Change

Calling All Golfers - April 28th!

Another message from the Executive Director of the Solutions University:

Attention Golfers and Supporters!

We are very excited to announce that North County Solutions for Change has been selected as beneficiary for the 1st Annual “One Round. One Cause” Golf Tournament to be held at MADERAS, San Diego County’s number ONE rated Golf Course.

We would love to see you out on the course playing the game you love and helping to solve homelessness for kids and communities at the same time. Please sign up today!

DATE: April 28, 2010
LOCATION: Maderas Golf Club
CHECK IN TIME: 11:30am
TEE OFF TIME: 1:00pm
COST: $195.00 per player
OR $720 per foursome.

Includes: Green Fees, Golf Cart, Boxed Lunch, Dinner Buffet, Prizes, Player Gift Bag + Wine Tasting!

You may register online at or to learn more about the terrific work that The MEYROW Foundation does in our community.

The "One Round. One Cause." Golf Tournament is a collaboration between The MEYROW Foundation and, a San Diego based Real Estate Company. The purpose of this tournament is to play the game we love while bringing awareness to one of the most pressing social issues facing San Diego and our nation today: kids with no homes.

The "One Round. One Cause." Golf Tournament allows you to know that there is a permanent solution to solving this problem. By playing one round of golf in this spectacular event, you are part of the change that is defeating homelessness for kids, one family and one community at a time.

Special thanks to The MEYROW Foundation and for their support of North County Solutions for Change!

The MEYROW Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to support causes that increase knowledge and gain awareness on a particular social aspect. Their mission is to, “Ignite a passion for the excitement of knowledge in order for our experiences in life to be one of greater fulfillment and appreciation.”

Solutions for Change is a social entrepreneur driven community organization dedicated to activating permanent solutions and solving family homelessness for kids and communities through our award winning best practices Solutions University model.

Yours Truly,

Chris Megison
Executive Director
Solutions for Change

February 17, 2010

The Solutions University has transformed 542 Families in 10 Years

If you have yet to be introduced to the Solutions University, here is your chance to see real stories from graduates and current residents of our revolutionary model that provides families access to permanent solutions to solve their homelessness. By watching this video, you will become Part of the Change!

From everyone at the Solutions University, thank you for taking the time to watch! :)

January 27, 2010

Mark your Calendars!

Rubios is Part of the Change! Click on the picture to see the flyer zoomed in. Hope to see you all there!

January 13, 2010

Thank You for Being Part of the Change~!

Dear Friends of Solutions for Change,

In the hustle and bustle of our lives sometimes pausing long enough to feel what our giving means to others can brighten an otherwise hectic day. That is why I am sending this note out right now. I want all those that helped this past holiday season to know how special you are and how much your kindness has lightened the burden carried by a child who has lost something very a child who has lost their home. You see the gift you just gave this past holiday (whether that be a doll, a blanket, a gift card to one of our teenagers or a monetary contribution) were gifts to a child who is very grateful for another very special gift…the gift of a home.

Your giving is being used in the context of a life-changing experience for a child in our Solutions University. We aren’t changing things for one day, a week or a month…but for a length of time that will make a lifelong impact. You are therefore part of the change that is giving a home not as a temporary fix for a few winter months, but as an investment into permanent change…a game changer…a life changer.

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.

You are not only part of a life changing investment for one of our homeless kids but your involvement sends a huge message to all 63 of our families that victory over homelessness is possible. Knowing that you are coming alongside of them in this big vision will make our parents fight even harder to rebuild a future for their kids. With your involvement you are sending the message that says: “we believe in you, keep up the hard work, you can beat this thing called homelessness”.

By supporting Solutions for Change, you are solving family homelessness for kids and communities, one family and one community at a time.

Thank You for Being Part of the Change – for Today, Tomorrow and Forever!

Chris and Tammy Megison

January 6, 2010

A Look at the Past 10 Years of Solving Family Homelessness

We are currently celebrating our 10th Year of Solving Family Homelessness in North County, San Diego. It is because of everyone who is Part of the Change that we are able to continue and we are in need of your help more than ever. The obstacles we have to face every day to continue to fight this issue are enormous, but this is what we do; take on huge challenges and conquer them because we believe in our model to solve this problem permanently.

We are going to give you all a look into the past 10 years of this journey by re-publishing some inspirational stories and well appreciated news articles. We hope you enjoy!


Here is an article published back in March of 2006 in the North County Times.

VISTA ---- The smell of household cleaners stung the air this week in a ragged building on East Vista Way as volunteers worked to resurrect a homeless shelter that has been shuttered for more than a year.

Navigating through an obstacle course of sponges and paint-spattered buckets, volunteers from civic groups and local businesses set up bunk beds, polished windows and mopped the partially tiled floors.

"We're starting fresh," said volunteer Pat Reith, 75, as she carried mattresses inside from a nearby storage bin Thursday.

Bit by bit, the 40-bed facility is coming back together, and shelter officials said they hope to open the doors on or around March 21.

"We're making good progress," said Chris Megison, executive director of the nonprofit North County Solutions for Change. "I think we're going to be OK."

Megison said his organization is reopening the facility --- after months of talking and working with the city ---- to provide beds and case management for homeless families waiting to move into Solutions' 120-bed family center on West California Avenue.

That program, which works to help families find permanent affordable housing within a year, has a waiting list of 10 to 15 families, Megison said.

Across town, a 50-bed emergency winter shelter for families called Operation Hope ---- not a part of Solutions --- is operating at capacity, but is slated to close its doors in mid-April. Megison said he hopes his new facility will be a timely lifeline for those who have not yet found alternative housing.

But first things first, he said. Transforming the graffiti-stained building at 809 E. Vista Way into a working "intake and access center" is going to require at least 150 more hours of volunteer work.

"It probably needs about $70,000 worth of material and labor, but we're going to do it for about $10,000," Megison said.

A controversial history

Over the years, the East Vista Way shelter --- located along a commercial corridor a few blocks east of downtown ---- has been the subject of some community acrimony and several City Council debates.

When a permit for the project was first approved in 2000, opponents voiced concerns about safety, noise and negative impacts on their quality of life. Some held rallies, others threatened lawsuits.

But in the years that followed, neighborhood support grew, Megison said.

Jim Adams, the 33-year-old manager of the adjacent Vista Way Cafe, said Thursday that he'd rather see a shelter next door than a vacant building that invites questionable characters into the area.

"We're totally in favor of it," he said. "We've never had a problem."

Under the terms of its contract with the city, Solutions agreed to abandon that Intake and Access family shelter within 30 days of opening its West California Avenue center in November 2004. But without missing a beat, Megison was back before the council, asking for permission to reopen the temporary shelter to skim the top off the waiting list at the new site.

The request angered some city officials, who said Megison was going back on his word.

Councilman Steve Gronke ---- who has repeatedly said the city does more than its fair share to combat homelessness in North County ---- fought the reopening of the shelter through much of 2005. After the city's Planning Commission narrowly approved a permit for the project in September, Gronke appealed it, arguing that the shelter was an inappropriate use for a commercial corridor.

But in the end, only Councilman Frank Lopez sided with Gronke in opposing the plan and the council approved the permit 3-2.

Shelter operations

Inside the Intake and Access Family shelter Thursday, volunteers arranged the bunk beds nearly end to end. Megison's wife, Tammy, a co-founder of Solutions for Change, said fathers and teenage boys will sleep at one end of the barracks, while other family members will sleep at the other.

"It just keeps things simpler," she said.

In some aspects, the lack of privacy works to the new shelter's advantage. "It's pretty hard to be an active drug addict or an alcoholic in a place like this," Chris Megison said.

About 40 percent of those who come to Solutions for help suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, Megison said. The remainder have either been economically displaced or are victims of domestic violence.

Unlike the organization's California Avenue center, which requires families to prove they have been clean and sober for 90 days before they can stay there, the intake center will only have a 30-day sobriety threshold for new admissions.

With a first-year operating budget of $130,000, the East Vista Way facility will have three paid employees, including an on-site manager, who will be supported by 50 to 70 volunteers per week, Megison said.

He anticipates an annual budget increase of 5 percent to 10 percent, depending on the material donations the shelter receives.

"It gets real costly if all of a sudden we have to buy toilet paper," Megison said. "Stuff like milk and meat can run thousands of dollars a year."

Last year, Solutions for Change was awarded a $925,000 grant from the state's Emergency Housing and Assistance program. While the funds have yet to clear escrow, the bulk of it will be used to purchase the East Vista Way building, Megison said.

Under its agreement with the city, Solutions can use the building as a shelter until 2016.

To fund future operations, Megison said the organization will seek out grants and private donations, especially from the faith community, which has supported its efforts in the past.