SAN DIEGO- (Sept 27, 2016) – Staff members from Expeditionary Strike Group 3 volunteered at Father Joe’s Village in San Diego September 27.
What started more than 65 years ago as a small chapel serving San Diego’s underprivileged, Father Joe’s Village has now grown into a platform that provides housing programs, meals and educational services to more than 14,500 people.
“We are the largest provider of services in Southern California, but we are not a shelter,” said Liza Heredia, Father Joe’s volunteer coordinator. “We are unique because we really are a village here, and we look out of each other. People who come here looking for help end up working here in the kitchen, for example. We teach life skills that they can take with them when are they ready and able to leave here.”
San Diego is home to the fourth largest population of homeless individuals in the U.S. and is the third largest for homeless veterans.
Father Joe’s Village prepares more than 3,000 meals and provides care to nearly 1,500 individuals, including more than 200 military veterans, every day.
“In the kitchen we need 72 workers every day, but since we are a non-profit organization we cannot afford to pay 72 people to work there,” said Heredia. “That is why our volunteers are so vital to making our organization as successful as it is.”
ESG-3 staff members volunteered to serve meals as part of the community lunch line.
“I am very lucky to be a member of the United States military and my oath to serve and protect does not stop when I take off my uniform,” said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Caitlin Masson, ESG-3 volunteer. “It is our responsibility to give back to the community whenever the opportunity presents itself. Seeing firsthand the smiles and gratitude of the men and women at Father Joe’s Village was the best reward we could have received.”
ESG-3 Command Master Chief Don Davis is proud his Sailors are volunteering and making a difference in the San Diego community.
“I am truly humbled and honored to serve with Sailors and Marines that continue to place others before themselves,” said Davis. “The volunteer work they do in the community is a direct reflection of their passion to improve lives and make a difference.”
ESG-3 comprises three amphibious squadrons, eight naval support elements and 13 amphibious warships comprised of more than 13,500 active-duty and reserve Sailors and Marines. The mission of ESG-3 is to serve as the command element for Marine expeditionary-brigade level expeditionary operations as commander of an amphibious task force.
For more news from Expeditionary Strike Group 3, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/esg3/.