Volume 6, Issue 2 | May 2020
The Uptown Update
Making a difference in our community in the time of COVID-19
Calling All Volunteers! Important Updates to Our Services During COVID-19
As our San Diego community and neighbors live in the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to provide essential services to our neighbors experiencing homelessness, those who are low-income, and those recently experiencing financial hardship. In the interest of maintaining the safety and health of both our amazing volunteers and clients, we have adjusted services through the following strategic steps:

  • Requiring all volunteers wear masks and observe the CDC-recommended 6-feet of social distancing
  • Adding a hand-washing station to our front sidewalk as of March 2020 in collaboration with Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Councilman Chris Ward
  • Limiting 4 volunteers per shift and implementing a "safety host" in our courtyard to encourage clients to practice social distancing while accessing services

Our hours of operation have also temporarily shifted in response to COVID-19 for emergency food and mail distribution:

Monday-Friday 10:00am-1:00pm

For all who are able to help, please consider signing up to volunteer at the Center during this time!

Current Center Needs. Aligned with our response to COVID-19, we are currently in need of food, face masks (medical and non-medical grade), and any/all in-kind donations.

Click here for donation details .
Serving Up Stimulus Checks
Uptown is now assisting clients sign up to receive their Economic Impact Payment stimulus checks. Specifically, this includes those who are not currently on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on disability, and who have not received earnings or filed taxes in the last 2-3 years. One of our lead volunteers, Candace Claar, has been instrumental in researching how to help our clients apply through the IRS website. In the past few weeks, we have helped over 30 clients apply to receive stimulus checks. 

One of our clients, a California resident since 1964 and a client of Uptown for 5 years, plans to use his stimulus check to get his car fixed. He is so grateful for our help. Other clients plan to use their stimulus money to pay for shelter and to have access to a shower.
For our clients, this stimulus money means relief from being out on the streets as well as an opportunity to improve their quality of life. It is a true honor and privilege to be able to support our clients in accessing needed income during such difficult times.

If you are in need of assistance or know someone who qualifies for our services, please contact us or stop by the Center during our hours of operations.

Hearing Our Clients' Stories
While applying for a stimulus check at Uptown, one of our long-time clients recently shared his story as well as his recent successes. He first became homeless in 2016 when he and his wife separated after 20 years of marriage. After struggling with maintaining bills, he was eventually evicted. He acknowledges that most people don’t realize just how easily they themselves could become homeless.

With assistance, this client's situation has now improved! He has a place to stay and friends that help him stay fed. He has a small and adorable dog named Bullet, who appreciated the dog food our volunteers provided to him. Bullet likes to put his paw in his owner's hand and have him hold it.

After experiencing homelessness for so long, the client shared that it’s been difficult to adjust to sleeping inside and feel comfortable. As a former Army ranger, he had gotten used to sleeping in a tent and "making do". This client expressed gratitude to us for helping him apply for his stimulus check. However, he also wanted to thank us for listening to him. He said that the most challenging part of being out on the streets is that people don’t listen to him anymore, reminding us, "Everyone needs to be heard sometimes". 
Meet Our New Executive Director!
Introducing Alisan Rowland, Executive Director!
For our regulars at Uptown Community Service Center, some may have noticed a new face around our offices. This new face is Alisan Rowland, Uptown’s new Executive Director!

But why an Executive Director? Because our mission is growing more vital and complex year after year. As Uptown continues to provide needed services to the San Diego community, we increasingly find ourselves serving those experiencing chronic homelessness and, as a result, experiencing more complex needs. These individuals need services to match. 
As the population we serve has shifted over the past ten years, our board and stakeholders have been working to strengthen and refine our services through a series of strategic plans focusing on key community partnerships. Over the past few years, these plans have included the addition of new client services, restructuring of the board and its committees, hiring of operations coordinators, recruiting volunteers, and bolstering community supports. Because of the special needs of our clients, we also anticipate expanding our hours. This will take more staff, funding, and leadership as our programming and services continue to develop.

With our most recent Operations Coordinator, Keith Thomas’, recent move to Riverside County and Allie’s openness to community work, Uptown has had the opportunity to fill our long-desired Executive Director position. And wow, are we already impressed!

Allie is an ordained clergy person and former pastor who has always had a heart for serving others, especially those experiencing homelessness and our low-income neighbors. Allie’s experience in homeless services began twenty years ago when she started ministering to neighbors experiencing homelessness as a congregant at Metropolitan Community Church of San Diego. She continued her work in chaplaincy roles throughout the San Diego community at Father Joe’s Villages and Sharp Memorial Hospital as well as hospice chaplaincy through Elizabeth Hospice. In 2013, Alisan was ordained by Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). Shortly thereafter, she became the senior pastor of MCC New Orleans, Louisiana, where she presided for five years, serving low-income urban congregants within the New Orleans community. When considering her next steps in professional ministry, Allie’s internships and residency in chaplaincy as well as her four years of experience as a hospice chaplain afforded her deep insight into the clients we serve. Since returning to San Diego where she and her partner raised their daughter, Allie has felt called again to work with those in need, especially those experiencing homelessness. Allie is excited to take Uptown to the next level in our history. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Riverside and a Masters of Divinity from Claremont School of Theology.

One of Alisan’s first initiatives as Executive Director will be adding new organizational partners to our board as well as recruiting volunteers. We believe that her community connections with leaders who pastor and serve our community as well as her easygoing style reflect the values of Uptown’s mission and vision and will lead the way in this new chapter of our work.

Volunteers who have worked with her report that Allie believes in getting to know people and is a great listener, displaying a contagious heart for our clients through everything she does. She has a passion easily seen by our board and active volunteers after only a few days on the job.

The next time you are by the service center, stop in and meet our new Executive Director. You will be certain to find a kindred spirit in Allie Rowland!

Thank You!! To All Who Contributed to Uptown's Walk-A-Thon 2020
Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to our 2020 Walk-a-Thon. Due to the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in the San Diego community at the start of the event, our in-person representation was slimmer than previous years, but we were still able to raise significant funds!

Thanks to the generosity of Uptown's donors and partners, we were able to raise over $6,900 in funds this year! Thank you!!
Starbucks Shout-Out!
We would like to thank Kevin Ingham (pictured right), Manager of Starbucks, for joining us at our Walk-a-thon. Kevin brought hot coffee for our walkers to go with our delicious donated donuts. Next time you're at Uptown, stop by Starbucks at 32nd & University and say hi to our new sponsor. Thanks, Kevin!!

Check out Starbucks at 32nd &University here .
Get Involved!

Volunteer   for 3-hour shifts on a regular or on-call basis. Get started  here .

Donate Goods   in-person at our center. Travel-sized hygiene supplies, men’s clothing, underwear, socks, backpacks, sleeping bags, and blankets are always in big demand.

Shop at  smile.amazon.com  and choose Uptown Faith Community Service Center as your charity. Shop through smile.amazon.com to ensure Uptown receives all donated funds.

Donate Money   online, in-person, or through Uptown’s fundraising events. Donation details  here .