ESCONDIDO — Interfaith Community Services received one its second-largest donation ever thanks to the late Joan and W. Lee James Jr.
The San Marcos couple’s estate donated $3.2 million to Interfaith recently, according to Lauren Holt, communications coordinator for Interfaith.
After moving to San Marcos in 1998, Joan James became active with Lake Church and after her husband’s death, took a more proactive role. She chaired the church’s Mission Committee, which led concert benefits, organized food donations to Interfaith’s Julia’s Pantry and attended Interfaith’s general membership meetings.
“I think it’s one of gratitude and appreciation for Joan and her late husband Lee,” said Interfaith Executive Director Greg Anglea of the attitude of employees and clients. “It’s an honor and also a big responsibility to be trusted with a sizable gift.”
Before Joan Lee passed away, she decided to leave her and her husband’s legacy through the W. Lee James and Joan A. James Trust.
Anglea said Joan Lee approached Interfaith several months before she died to discuss an estate gift and how she could help. As the talks progressed, Lee decided to include Interfaith into the trust as a beneficiary.
According to Interfaith, Joan James was passionate about helping the homeless and veterans. Their gift will also play a critical part in launching Interfaith’s new Recovery and Wellness Center, which provides safe shelter for homeless veterans and individuals battling addiction.
The center will be renamed in the James’ honor.
“It’s huge because our hope is to be able to use the gift to purchase a home for our Recovery and Wellness Center, which is a new program,” Anglea explained. “We haven’t started it yet because it doesn’t have a home. It’ll be a place to help extremely low-income and homeless individuals who are struggling with addiction and mental health.”
Interfaith provides a variety of programs designed to empower hungry, homeless, and low-income community residents to start a path toward self-sufficiency.
Each year Interfaith serves more than 17,000 community members by providing basic needs and nutrition support, social services, shelters and housing, employment development, youth programs, senior services, veterans programs and addiction recovery support.
Although the gift is substantial and Anglea and Interfaith employees are thrilled to receive it, he said it won’t change the day-to-day operations and tasks. In addition, the organization will continue its fundraising efforts, as the Lee’s gift will be used to purchase a facility for the Recovery and Wellness Center.
“Hopefully it will secure us a location,” Anglea explained. “It will be transformational so that the men and women who use it will be able to rebuild their lives there. For us … we still have, unfortunately, huge amounts of needs of people turning to us who need shelter, food and employment.”