A Team Effort to Help the Homeless in Little Italy

| January 2, 2022 | 0 Comments

Following a recent conversation with Marco LiMandri, chief executive administrator of the Little Italy Association, and Donnie Dee, president and CEO of the San Diego Rescue Mission, I learned of a team approach that they have initiated to support those experiencing homelessness in Little Italy. Their goal is to have fewer people calling the sidewalks of Little Italy their home, and for those experiencing homelessness to connect with people who care and are willing to help them take their next step forward. The San Diego Rescue Mission will be in the Little Italy neighborhood seven days a week offering basic assistance, including hygiene products, snacks and clothing, and access for those in need to obtain necessary documents to transition from being homeless to living in shelters and other residences.

“Partnering with the San Diego Rescue Mission is something we are very passionate and excited about,” said Marco Li Mandri, “It’s important to us to work with an organization that leads with dignity and compassion, to support the unhoused citizens within our neighborhood. Our hope is to assist them in taking the next step forward and support as much as we can along the way.” 

According to Donnie Dee, “We have a team of outreach workers who understand the challenges of those who have been homeless. That’s because our workers have been there and can speak with experience to those they encounter.  We start with building trust.”

This new program comes at a time when the state of homelessness in San Diego, and the Country as a whole, has grown exponentially over the past year. The Rescue Mission brings the professional knowledge to help people navigate the social service system and connect them with the right resources. They also offer emergency shelter at their downtown location for women and women with children in addition to a long-term residential program for men, women and single parents.

The key element to further this effort is the fact that LiMandri and Dee share a “vision and dream” that working together they can turn around people’s lives, especially those who believe they are alone, with no one to help them transition.  Both understand that due to the comprehensive approach, there will be a learning curve to this effort. Which means, they will also put in place the means to evaluate its impact on the community, with feedback from businesses and residents in Little Italy.

When I asked LiMandri why he chose San Diego Rescue Mission as the Little Italy Association’s partner, he offered that the proximity, with offices and shelters near Little Italy, and the history of the organization, were important decision factors. 

Since its existence in 1955, it has focused on adjusting as needed to those it serves, the homeless, as well as the programs that San Diego Rescue Mission already has in place to offer.  It is a “one-stop shop” in a sense. It’s not just about “getting people off the streets, it’s about turning their lives around.”

Its newest outreach initiative, Walk With Me, offers an opportunity for unsheltered neighbors to build a supportive friendship with a volunteer. The Rescue Mission has seen common misperceptions about homelessness fade, new doors of hope open and lives changed on both sides.

Little Italy hopes to inspire other communities in San Diego and beyond to lead with compassion and take action from the heart when it comes to assisting our unsheltered neighbors.

Founded in 1955,?San?Diego?Rescue?Mission?is a faith-based organization that offers safe-haven as well as restorative care and rehabilitation services to those in our community seeking to recover from experiencing: homelessness, addiction, abuse, and poverty. For additional?information about the?San?Diego?Rescue?Mission, please visit?www.sdrescue.org.??

Volunteers assist San Diego Rescue Mission clientele.

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