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East County News Service

April 23, 2019 (San Diego) - On May 4, Father Joe’s Villages will host the 35th annual Children’s Charity Gala to support life-changing services for children and families experiencing homelessness, spanning from preschool to medical care.  The event will include awards to “East County Heroes” including El Cajon resident Terry Caster. 


At the 2019 Children’s Charity Gala: Reach for the Stars, more than 400 people will gather at the U.S. Grant Hotel for an evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing to the tunes of local band Atomic Groove. At the event, three local heroes will accept awards for their commitment to helping San Diegans experiencing poverty and homelessness reach new heights.


According to research, children who are homeless are four times as likely to have delayed development and twice as likely to repeat a grade in school. To break the cycle of homelessness, the nonprofit puts an emphasis on providing critical care to children -- just as it did for nearly 1,200 children in 2018. Funds raised at this event will benefit programs for children experiencing homelessness such as Father Joe’s Villages’ fully licensed and accredited Therapeutic Childcare Center providing preschool and after-school programs and emergency and life-sustaining services like food, shelter and healthcare.


  • Las Patronas will receive the Father Joe’s Villages Award, acknowledging those who exemplify Father Joe’s Villages’ creed of compassion, respect, empathy, empowerment and dignity. 
  • Terry Caster of El Cajon will receive the the Bishop Maher Award in memory of Barbara Claire Caster, presented to those who put the needs of the poor first. Barbara Claire Caster supported Father Joe’s Villages’ work financially and created her own nonprofit called Serving Hands International to further her mission to help end homelessness.
  • Congregation Beth Israel’s Hunger Project will receive the Founder’s Award, in honor of those who have shown a longstanding commitment to Father Joe’s Villages’ foundation and vision. Volunteers with the Hunger Project serve lunch on Sunday mornings at Father Joe's Villages.


“In addition to the normal trials of being a kid—succeeding in school, making friends—children experiencing homelessness can also face unique challenges such as food insecurity and possible developmental delays,” says Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages. “The experts at our Therapeutic Childcare Center give children the opportunity to leave behind their struggles and dream big for their futures.”

“We are very proud of the work of the Hunger Project and our partnership with Father Joe’s Villages,” says Lesley Mills, executive director of Congregation Beth Israel. “33 years says a lot; to be recognized with this award is a deep honor. Many of our members give generously to the Hunger Project each year, making it possible for us to continue.”

“At Therapeutic Childcare, my kids’ reading skills have gotten better,” says Preston, a Family Services client at Father Joe’s Villages. “Their attention span has got better. They’re interacting with other kids more.”

Additional details and contact:

As San Diego’s largest homeless services providers, Father Joe’s Villages sees that each person can rediscover hope and transform their life. To address the complex needs of people who are homeless, the organization provides housing for more than 2,000 each night and, up to 4,000 meals every day, along with healthcare, addiction treatment, education, job training and therapeutic childcare. This mission is made possible only through the efforts of compassionate staff, dedicated volunteers, and generous public and private donors. To view Father Joe’s Villages short film representing the journey to overcome homelessness, “Shine,” click here. For more information, please visit http://www.neighbor.org/.

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