Community leaders to be recognized for helping homeless

Two North County community leaders will be recognized for their commitment to helping area homeless at Father Joe’s Villages’ Children’s Charity Gala at the US Grant Hotel in San Diego on May 5.

Franklin Antonio, co-founder of Qualcomm, will be honored for his generous donation that created the Franklin Antonio Public Lunch Program at Father Joe’s Villages. Antonio donated $2 million over five years to the lunch program, which serves a free daily meal to anyone in need. The recognition comes in the final year of his long-term donation.

“I visited Father Joe’s for a tour about five years ago,” Antonio said. “It was quite an education. Like most San Diegans, I had no idea that Father Joe’s encompassed all these activities (to assist individuals and families). Father Joe’s Villages is unique.”

Jim Mulvaney, Jr., his mother, and siblings will also be honored for their decades of family service to Father Joe’s Villages. Family efforts follow in the footsteps of Mulvaney’s late father Jim Mulvaney, Sr. who served as the first board chairman of Father Joe’s Villages. Jim Mulvaney, Jr. joined the board, served alongside his father, and continues to serve on the board. His five brothers and sisters and their spouses also help with generous donations, fundraising efforts and serving lunches.

“It feels good to help a great need,” Mulvaney said. “They’re people just like you and me who didn’t get the breaks.”

Father Joe’s Villages has always had the policy of giving folks a hand up not a handout.

The nonprofit started in 1950 as St. Mary of the Wayside Chapel, located on 4th Avenue in San Diego. Over time its efforts have grown to help more than 13,100 people annually with meals and services.

Mulvaney, 61, said he remembers when he was in his 20s and his father talked about meeting Father Joe. Mulvaney said his father had a glow in his eyes when he shared he would be serving on the board, and explained that people in need were given assistance and counseling to become self-sufficient.

“They were given an understanding it wasn’t their father’s fault, or their mother’s fault, they needed to look inside themselves,” Mulvaney said.

To provide the basic need of food to those struggling with poverty and homelessness, Father Joe’s Villages serves an open public lunch at its Paul Mirabile Center in San Diego’s East Village to 1,050 people a day.

Father Joe’s Villages also provides three daily meals to men, women and children in its programs, which feed an additional 8,500 people a year.

The nonprofit also works to provide transitional housing and services to those in need. Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages, said housing is the first step to solving homelessness, and key to helping people get back on their feet and “off the streets for good.”

He added there are many ways people become homeless. Solutions beyond stable housing need to custom fit each individual.

“Sleeping on the street is often the final leg of an otherwise complicated path of unpredictable circumstances,” Vargas said.

Mulvaney said he has seen a lot of positive changes, additional programs and strides in helping the homeless over the 30 years he has served on the board. He added that unfortunately the number of people in need is greater. His goal is get more people involved in solutions.

The annual Children’s Charity Gala raises funds for Father Joe’s Villages Therapeutic Childcare Center and children and family services.

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