San Diego, California is known to many for its beaches, world-renowned zoo, and other attractions ranging from casual to luxurious. What might be less known is that as of 2019, San Diego had the 4th highest homeless population in the United States, with numbers on the rise. The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the homeless population in the San Diego area almost doubling in 2020 alone, with the number of first-time homeless people increasing from 2,326 in 2019 to 4,152 in 2020 - a 79% jump in just one year. Many are concerned that the number will continue to grow exponentially over the next year due to the end of the eviction moratorium and rental assistance programs set to expire in June of 2021.
Organizations like Greater Good Charities are working hard to address the needs of this growing population through partnerships with other organizations in the city, such as Think Dignity.
Think Dignity was established in 2006 with a mission “to inspire, empower, and organize our community to advance basic dignity for those living on the streets.” It is an unfortunate truth that individuals who are housing insecure are often marginalized and ignored, restricting their access to legal counsel, personal item storage, and the most basic essential survival needs like food and water.
Inspired by their work, Greater Good Charities partnered with this phenomenal organization on their annual Summer Survival Supply Distribution events. This event, which continues through mid-June of 2021, provides hygiene items, clothing, basic supplies, and resources to unsheltered San Diegans during the hottest months of the year. Through donations and support of people like you, Greater Good contributed 300 Good Packs and 100 Pet Packs to the Think Dignity mobile programs team distribution at this summer’s kickoff event.
Think Dignity expressed the impact this partnership made: “for people who are living unsheltered during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult for them to access hygiene, clothing, and pet services simultaneously, so the Good Packs and Pet Packs have been incredibly helpful in providing immediate support. Moreover, having the items in backpacks has provided an additional benefit for individuals as they now can use them to store and carry their belongings in a dignified way.”
Greater Good Charities is grateful to you for having been able to contribute to supplying essential needs to 300 individuals, 80 dogs, and 20 cats that are currently experiencing homelessness.
This Good Pack inventory photo served as an educational tool for Think Dignity donors, supporters, and community members
Photo © Think Dignity
With the additional supply of our Good Packs and Pet packs, Think Dignity was able to redirect the resources that went into supplying these Dignity Kits towards other essential programs and operational expenses. This is especially helpful right now because they are finally reopening many of the community programs that had been suspended due to Covid, such as their Street Café, providing free nutritious meals and produce twice a month. Having additional resources to relaunch these other programs is essential to the longevity of their success and impact.
Speaking of longevity, Think Dignity did more than just distribute our Good Packs; they also utilized them as a resource to educate community members on how to provide vital supplies to people experiencing homelessness with dignity.
“We recognize that there are many San Diegans who want to support the basic needs of their unhoused neighbors but may not know how to do so in an appropriate manner, so we used the kits as an example of how potential donors can create kits with items that are intentionally included based on the requests and feedback from people experiencing homelessness.”
Merlynn Watanabe, Think Dignity’s Programs and Operations Manager, at their 2021 Summer Survival Supply Distribution kickoff event
Photo © Think Dignity
Additionally, they used the photo above to build trust with the unsheltered San Diego population. If you have never experienced it yourself, it is difficult to imagine what being homeless can do to a person psychologically and emotionally. Many unsheltered individuals have expressed hesitation in receiving donations and pre-packaged kits as they have had countless dehumanizing experiences where community members gave them harmful or degrading items such as spoiled or tainted food and dirty clothing. Sharing a photo with them of everything that is provided inside the Good Packs allowed Think Dignity to inform potential recipients clearly and effectively about the quality of the products being distributed. This level of transparency is essential in gaining the trust of the community and helps to assure individuals of the intention to advance basic dignity through these packs.
“The Good Packs and Pet Packs not only strengthened trust and hope for individuals experiencing homelessness but also reminded our communities about their power to uplift their neighbors through human-centered donations. Thank you for providing us the opportunity to support hundreds of unsheltered San Diegans and standing with us to advance basic dignity in San Diego County”
You can provide essential needs to unsheltered individuals and their pets!