People with developmental and intellectual disabilities need one-on-one help to thrive in this world. For over 50 years, Home of Guiding Hands has been providing help in San Diego, first on a campus in Lakeside, and then at locations throughout the county. Times of San Diego spoke with Mark Klaus, president and CEO, about the nonprofit’s mission, challenges and new services.
What’s the mission of Home of Guiding Hands?
The mission of Home of Guiding Hands is to improve the lives of those we serve. We are committed to providing quality community support, critical housing and life skills training for children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
What kinds services does HGH provide?
We moved beyond our Lakeside campus over a decade ago and evolved into a very different organization that puts people first. We customize our services and support programs to meet the needs of each individual. We no longer have a one-size fits all approach. We believe individuals thrive when they can direct their own lives in a setting that provides individualized attention, increases opportunities for self-sufficiency, and encourages greater community integration and access. These are the guiding principles behind everything we do.
One of the newest services we provide is for families with children up to the age of 3 in their communities or in their homes. HGH’s early childhood developmental services program provides therapeutic and educational early intervention for children who are at risk for developmental delays or who may be diagnosed with a developmental disability in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Credentialed teachers provide one-on-one services, and we partner with parents and caregivers because they have an unparalleled knowledge of a child’s unique attributes and needs. We even have a “parent play group” in Spring Valley, Carlsbad and south San Diego so the kids and parents can socialize and receive support.
A unique service we are committed to is our Life Planning Project. This is a workshop series designed to give families the tools they need to develop a life plan that incorporates future needs and desires of the entire family, focusing particularly on the needs of the family member with a developmental disability.
And, or course, we continue to offer residential services through our 31 homes, where individuals live in a comfortable, friendly environment with varying levels of training, 24-hour care and supervision.
How many people do you estimate that you’ve helped over the years?
We have served tens of thousands of people, and many of them have been with us for more than 40 years. In 2014 alone we served 1,500 people throughout San Diego County.
What challenges does the organization currently face?
The greatest challenge has to be the constant devaluing of the services and support for some of California’s most vulnerable citizens. Educating our local and state elected officials about the need for adequate funding is a constant challenge. This is not unique to California, but given the high cost of living in California and especially San Diego, it is an even greater challenge. Having adequate funding for our large staff is crucial. We currently employ 650 people and operate many locations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It takes a significant investment to provide more than 500,000 hours of direct service annually in our 31 community homes alone.
Another challenge is the constant need to balance our mission to ensure we have the margin of resources to continue the services that HGH has been providing since its founding in 1961. My staff has to be tired of hearing me saying “No Margin – No Mission,” but we have to be fiscally responsible and efficient in order to survive and provide quality services to the more than 1,500 people we support annually in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
How can interested San Diegans get involved?
We are always looking for community partners. Individuals, businesses, and groups can call us at 619-938-2850 and ask for someone on our development team, or go online to http://www.guidinghands.org/how-to-give/ways-to-give/. At this link you will be able to view the many opportunities available to partner with Home of Guiding Hands. We value those who are able to give of their time, treasure and talents.
Times of San Diego regularly writes about nonprofit organizations that are making a difference in San Diego. Organizations wishing to participate in this question-and-answer series may contact email@example.com for consideration.
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