Dreams for Change was founded in May 2009 by Dr. Teresa Smith with the initial goal of meeting the needs of families and individuals who had been adversely affected by the financial downturn.
Through her work as a social service provider, Teresa came face-to-face with the new homeless – working families who due to an unanticipated life-changing event found themselves living in their cars with no idea of what to do next. To the outside world their lives looked the same. Children went off to school, parents to work, and the dog waited for them to come home at the end of the day – except, their home was now a vehicle.
The idea behind Dreams for Change was to draw upon documented best practices for addressing poverty and to apply those practices to meet the needs of this struggling population. The organization also sought to fill in the gaps of government and social services, to use out-of-the-box collaborative models to serve its clients, to operate with lean efficiencies, and to utilize innovative strategies for accomplishing its work.
When we started Dreams for Change, we had a vision of doing something different to change the way San Diego treats and serves homeless families and individuals in our community. We wanted to deliver programs that were designed using the best practices known for addressing poverty. We wanted to fill gaps in a social service and government system that had many gaping holes. We wanted to be nimble, lean, cost-effective, and innovative. We wanted to work collaboratively. And we wanted to measure our outcomes in order to determine our impact.
Six years later, we are still a “new” organization however, our team is rich in experience in helping families and individuals achieve stability in their lives and in meeting the expectations we established for ourselves at the outset of our work. I am proud of our team – the volunteers, interns and staff – for the abundant skills they bring to us, for their heartfelt dedication, and for their commitment to treating each and every person we serve with the dignity and respect that provides the foundation for the success of our clients.
Just as we teach and coach our clients in the art of financial management, Dreams for Change works to model sound organizational management and operating principles. Through purposeful programming we bring a level of financial responsibility that strives to use every dollar and resource effectively. We utilize and embrace technology as a way to reduce overhead costs while providing quality on-site services. We capitalize on the power of community volunteers and interns who bring added resources and skills to our programming. We also draw on the strength of collaboration and partnership to minimize the duplication of services and to bridge services for clients across agencies and organizations.
We aspire to be an organization that makes a real and lasting difference in the lives of the people we serve. To that end, we welcome conversations, ideas and partnership opportunities for addressing the needs of homeless and low-income San Diegans. I hope you’ll contact me if you have any thoughts about how we can strengthen our work in service to the community.