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Moving Forward Together


Jan 25 2023

San Diego Jewish World

JFS CEO Michael Hopkins, along with several other members of the San Diego Jewish community, testified in front of The San Diego County Board of Supervisors as they considered a proposal to provide a venue for a Holocaust exhibit focusing on Survivors who have settled in San Diego County. Hopkins stated that JFS staff “compassionately cares for Holocaust Survivors throughout San Diego to assure that they age with dignity and with their health, independence and connection to our community.” He noted the growing number of antisemitic incidents throughout the country, saying many Survivors now face challenges that can trigger memories of traumatic experiences. He expressed the hope that the Holocaust Remembrance exhibit will “bring attention to what can happen when antisemitism goes unchecked.” The Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the exhibit, and to provide $25,000 in funding. The proposal was introduced by Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who called the exhibit “a commitment of us to stand against Holocaust denial and to stand against the spread of hate speech and disinformation.”

Jan 24 2023

Times of San Diego

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the creation of a Holocaust remembrance exhibit on county property Tuesday. Supervisors directed Helen Robbins-Meyer, chief administrative officer, to work with the Jewish Federation of San Diego on finding a location for the exhibit. Michael Hopkins, CEO of Jewish Family Services, said his organization “compassionately cares for Holocaust survivors,” who lived through one of the darkest periods in human history. He added that “lessons of recent years have taught us that it’s not enough to react — if we are not proactive against these forces that hurt and harm, they will continue to injure and even become deadly.”

Jan 24 2023

NBC 7 San Diego

The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the creation of a Holocaust remembrance exhibit on county property and approved funding for the Jewish Federation to develop the year-long exhibit. Several community leaders spoke in support of the proposal, which was sponsored by Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, including JFS CEO Michael Hopkins. Supervisors were told that a memorial is especially important in light of recent attacks. “Lessons of recent years have taught us that it is not enough to react,” Hopkins said. “If we are not proactive against these forces that hurt and harm, they will continue to injure and become deadly.” JFS compassionately cares for about 400 Holocaust Survivors in San Diego County. Once a site is selected, the exhibit isexpected to open on April 17.

Jan 13 2023

The American Prospect

It’s the mayors who have stepped up as the leading problem solvers struggling with a genuine conundrum: What should an effective response to migrant issues look like for the affected cities and towns? A national coordination plan that designates a federal agency or a federally designated nonprofit with strong communications lines into specific cities and towns to handle arrivals’ needs once they are discharged would alleviate some of the chaos. For solutions to short-term emergencies, immigration advocates point to one San Diego organization as a leader in adapting its frameworks to handle the shifting demands of asylum seekers. Naomi Steinberg, an immigration advocate, has called the San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter Services operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego as “the gold standard” and told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “They have really shown organizations around the country how it can be done and how it should be done.”

Jan 11 2023

Voice of San Diego

The Vista City Council early this week approved a safe parking lot for people living in their vehicles. It’s the first of its kind for the city and the second in North County. The lot will be operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego and is part of their Safe Parking Program. In addition to providing a safe overnight environment, JFS case managers will be on-site to help connect people with stable housing options. “We’re able to intervene and deliver services before folks experience further decline into the spiral of homelessness,” says JFS’ chief of staff Chris Olsen, who is expecting a high demand for the Vista lot. “Based on our experience operating the program in Encinitas, there’s definitely a strong need in North County,” he said.

Dec 30 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Dana Toppel, Chief Operating Officer at Jewish Family Service, serves as a community board advisor for The San Diego Union-Tribune. She has a new year’s resolution for everyone, let’s be intentional about how we communicate with teens about mental health. As suicide rates continue to rise, we all can make a difference by reaching out to the teens we know.

Dec 28 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Border Patrol created mass disruptions at local transportation hubs by leaving hundreds of migrants at San Diego bus stations “without any support to reach their final destinations around the country.”

Normally, migrants stay no more than a few days in the care of local shelters before traveling on to their loved ones across the United States. But with winter weather and holiday travel — along with the collapse of Southwest Airlines’ flight schedule — shelters haven’t been able to move migrants onward as quickly as usual, meaning there is less capacity to receive new arrivals. When the shelters do not have enough space, they triage based on vulnerability, prioritizing families with children, among others.

“At this moment we are grateful to have regained some capacity,” said Kate Clark, JFS’ Senior Director for Immigration Services. “We know the ongoing national travel challenges persist and will be continually assessing capacity to welcome guests into our care post-release from the Department of Homeland Security.”

Dec 25 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Due to flight delays from winter storms, migrant shelters haven’t been able to move guests through as quickly as normal and are now at capacity, meaning many new arrivals have been left on the streets.

Normally, after crossing the border, migrants who are released in the San Diego area go to one of two shelters, one run by the San Diego Rapid Response Network and the other by Catholic Charities. Both shelters provide hotel rooms for migrants to stay in due to pandemic precautions.

“These types of events are an important reminder that additional federal resources and meaningful reform are needed to support appropriate border infrastructure that reflects current needs,” Brian Ferguson of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said.

Dec 25 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

It’s a refrain heard often from people who suddenly fall into homelessness, and it’s being heard more and more these days.

For some, homelessness came about for economic reasons, such as with Robert Prokosh, who began living in his car when his rent went from $700 to $1,400 in one month. He and his wife moved into the Safe Parking lot operated by Jewish Family Service in Mission Valley.

For whatever reasons, more people are becoming homeless, and service providers across the county say they are seeing a surge in people seeking help. Why are so many people falling into homelessness for the first time? There is no one reason.

Dec 20 2022

AP News

JFS’ Kate Clark, senior director for immigration services, was interviewed about current uncertainties surrounding Title 42, and how looming legal changes will affect asylum seekers in the near future. Lack of information has led to rumors, confusion, and doubts about the government’s readiness to respond.

Dec 18 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego recently welcomed its 100,000th guest since it opened four years ago to help asylum seekers. “It was a happiness to be here,” said 31-year-old Yolanda, who is fleeing cartel violence. “I feel safe.” The article illustrates our emphasis on welcoming and providing care for the most vulnerable of asylum seekers with public health as our top priority. “They are the gold standard,” said Naomi Steinberg of HIAS. “They have really shown organizations around the country about how it can be done and how it should be done.”

Dec 10 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Since converting to a 24-hour lot, the Jewish Family Service Safe Parking lot in Mission Valley is serving more RVs, and now is the only lot in San Diego that currently accepts RVs. Chris Olsen, JFS chief of staff, said the majority of their clients are experiencing homelessness for the first time, about a quarter are older than 60, and many have full-time jobs.

Dec 1 2022

Voice Of San Diego

An audit on city towing practices and a viral story about two homeless mothers whose vehicles were towed are fueling debate over the efficacy of impounding vehicles serving as makeshift homes. Chris Olsen, JFS Chief of Staff, explains that JFS Safe Parking Lots do reach capacity. We hope that even when we are at capacity, we hope that anyone who needs a safe place to park can secure one.

Nov 29 2022


Jewish Family Service is featured in this list of ways to give back in San Diego for its volunteer opportunities helping to deliver meals to isolated older adults. From delivering meals to keeping older adults company, to helping refugees feel more at home, volunteers are needed in a number of positions. If you have a couple hours during the week, you too can give back to your community.

Nov 28 2022

Times of San Diego

Jewish Family Service is featured in the list of nonprofits to support on Giving Tuesday. JFS matched gifts up to a total of $250,000 to support programs for children, adults, families, seniors, refugees and immigrants.

Oct 2 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The goal of guaranteed income programs is bolstering poor families by giving them money to use at their discretion, whether on food, rent or medical expenses — or possibly child care that will allow a parent to either begin working full-time or take a higher-paying job. The money can also help cover living expenses while someone completes higher education or professional training, such as a two-year nursing degree or a real estate license. “There’s a lot happening, and it seems like there’s more to come,” said Chris Olsen, chief of staff at Jewish Family Service, which has a hand in all three local programs.

Sep 22 2022

SD Today

Jewish Family Service is featured in this list of volunteer opportunities in San Diego. Volunteer opportunities range from delivering meals, keeping older adults company, helping refugees feel at home, and supporting youth and families. If you have a couple hours during the week, we invite you to find an opportunity that speaks to you.

Sep 19 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Eleven women will serve on the city of San Diego’s newly revived Commission on the Status of Women, a panel focused on helping women overcome inequities and barriers to success. Two panel members have a Jewish Family Service of San Diego connection. U.S. Rep. Susan Davis, a Kensington resident, served in the U.S. Congress from 2003 to 2021 and the state Assembly from 1994 to 2000 and is currently a member of the Jewish Family Service Board of Directors. Dana Toppel is Jewish Family Service’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) and serves on the California Commission on Aging.

Sep 13 2022

ABC 10 News San Diego

The City of San Diego is hoping to ease the burden of homeless individuals living in their cars. The safe parking lot in Mission Valley operated by Jewish Family Service is now open 24 hours.

“It’s a godsend,” says resident Thomas Cummings. “If it wasn’t for this program, I don’t know where we’d be. The city council approved the expansion of the safe parking program. It is expected to run until at least June 2023.

Sep 13 2022


Homelessness continues to be a growing issue in San Diego following the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Gloria’s efforts to combat the problem have included the designation of large parking lots across San Diego for those living in their cars to park overnight. Today, the Jewish Family Service lot in Mission Valley extended their hours to be open 24/7.

Sep 13 2022


Mayor Todd Gloria marked the expansion of one of the city’s “Safe Parking” lots to 24 hours a day Tuesday as part of his continued efforts to address homelessness and break down barriers standing in the way of unsheltered San Diegans accessing services. Jewish Family Service of San Diego operates three “Safe Parking” lots under contract with the City of San Diego.

Sep 10 2022

The New York Times

California has become the epicenter of the movement. The Los Angeles program, funded primarily by the city, benefits 3,200 people who have at least one child, as well as an annual income below the federal poverty level. Several cities have moved ahead with efforts using private money: Oakland pledged to give 600 low-income families $500 for 18 months, and in San Diego, some families with young children will get $500 a month for two years.

Sep 8 2022

Voice of San Diego

Unlike the more widely known universal basic income proposal, the guaranteed income program being tested here offers no-strings-attached cash transfers to families based on trust. Households can spend the money on whatever they want rather than abide by strict and often invasive rules. “Guaranteed income programs are happening now and they’re fast and helping people in need … by filling in gaps with existing social safety net programs,” said Chris Olsen, chief of staff at Jewish Family Service. “The one doesn’t negate the need for the other.”

Sep 1 2022


U.S. Senator Alex Padilla visited the San Diego border region Wednesday to learn how the federal government can support the humanitarian efforts of local advocates. During a meeting with members of the San Diego Rapid Response Network, advocates asked Padilla to help them restore the asylum system, stop the militarization of the border, expand access to Friendship Park and adopt a more welcoming approach to new migrants. “The border is much more than a headline, it’s people’s lives that are impacted every single day on both sides of the border,” said Kate Clark, director of immigrant services at Jewish Family Service.

Aug 31 2022

NBC 7 San Diego

Immigrant rights advocates met with Democratic Senator Alex Padilla at the San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter Services operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego on Wednesday to give him a sense of what’s happening on the ground at the U.S.-Mexico border.
They’re applauding the end of the so-called Remain in Mexico policy, but say migrants are still in danger because they’re not being processed fast enough.

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