Father Joe’s enhances job-seeking, storytelling


FINDING WORK: Gene Burkard Employment and Education Services, a job-skills program of Father Joe’s Villages, has been housed at St. Teresa of Calcutta Villa since Sept. 15. (Credit: Courtesy Father Joe’s Villages)

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SAN DIEGO — A revamped job-skills program and a grant-supported playwriting project are among exciting recent developments at Father Joe’s Villages, San Diego’s largest homeless-services provider.

On Sept. 15, the Father Joe’s Villages Employment & Education Services (EES) program moved to a new location at St. Teresa of Calcutta Villa and was renamed Gene Burkard Employment and Education Services. The program helps San Diego homeless find and keep jobs.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the center’s new location at 1 14th St. in downtown San Diego.

Because loss of income is the primary driver of homelessness in California, Father Joe’s Villages is expanding its resources to help more people find long-term jobs. The move to St. Teresa of Calcutta Villa will complete an expansion that kicked off earlier this year when EES hired three additional staff members to support the program that now has more resources and a larger space to operate.

The new name honors the generosity of the late Gene Burkard, whose multi-million-dollar support helped expand the program and will sustain its services for years to come.

Father Joe’s Villages also has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Humanities For All grant awards for a playwriting project called “Stories of CREED in Action.”

“Stories of CREED in Action” will offer two playwriting residencies to Father Joe’s Villages’ clients in partnership with the San Diego-based nonprofit organization Playwrights Project.

Frank Kensaku Saragosa, a recipient of the PEN Literary Award who has lived experience with homelessness, will be leading the playwriting workshops.

Public performances of the plays will be held at the Morgan Auditorium, in partnership with San Diego Central Library, from June 14 to 16, 2024.

The playwriting workshops will allow people with lived experience to share their stories and the public to get a glimpse of the circumstances they’ve overcome.

The Humanities For All Project Grant is a competitive grant program of California Humanities which supports locally-developed projects that respond to the needs, interests and concerns of Californians, provide accessible learning experiences for the public, and promote understanding among our state’s diverse population.

“It is Father Joe’s Villages’ mission to prevent and end homelessness one life at a time in the spirit of Compassion, Respect, Empathy, Empowerment and Dignity (CREED),” said Father Joe’s Villages Project Director Aleta Barthell. “By sharing these stories with the community in ‘Stories of CREED in Action,’ the hope is to recognize and acknowledge the humanity that is at stake in our current homelessness crisis.”


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