I believe it was about 1990 when a friend first introduced me to South Bay Community Services. It was not long afterward when I was honored and became a board member. SBCS is, without a doubt, a model agency that provides much needed services as well as offering a “hands-up” philosophy rather than a “hands-out” attitude. I believe it (the agency) does so because of its leadership. Kathryn Lembo is the Executive Director and carefully guides her “ship” every inch of its way. Kathy has a great team and together they make an incredible difference to those individuals who require shelter, medical attention, counseling, education, training, affordable housing, clothing, food and/or family services for Domestic Violence just to name a few offerings. SBCS provides individuals a place to turn and works closely with the local police departments and other agencies. It was the first agency to offer a Domestic Violence Intervention Program. It was also the first agency to be approved by HUD's Homeless Housing Disposition Program in 1991. In 1995, Casas Seguras opened and was the only confidential shelter and transitional housing facility for victims (and their children) of family violence in South San Diego County. SBCS was also the only 24/7 response unit in San Diego County in 1997 that began accompanying Chula Vista Police on family violence calls when children were present, which became known as the Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT). Additionally, SBCS opened a “Teen Recovery Center” providing day treatment for youth who have substance abuse issues. The following year, SBCS opened an affordable community to low incomes families with HIV/AIDS. SBCS continues to open affordable housing communities along with transitional housing developments throughout the South County benefiting low-income families, seniors, and youth who have “aged out” of the foster care system. Several years ago, Mi Escuelita was opened for children who have been exposed to family violence. Please know that this is the first therapeutic preschool of its kind in San Diego County. I have personally directed individuals to SBCS who had no where else to turn; and so, I am well aware of its services and provisions. Agencies are only as good as those individuals who lead them and have the vision and insight to keep growing and meeting the needs of the community. I am sincerely honored to have been a continual board member for nearly two decades; I cannot imagine not being a part of SBCS.
I can not say enough great things about South Bay Community Services. Thanks to SBCS staff, counselors, social workers and others, much needed assistance and services are provided to victims of domestic violence, hungry families, pre-schoolers who have witnessed abuse at home, young people who age out of foster care and many others. Shelters for victims of domestic violence provide a safe and attractive environment with on-site support that helps families become self sufficient. Pre-schoolers who have witnessed abuse at home can attend Mi Escuelita, a pre-school program which is the result of a collaboration with the Chula Vista Elementary School District the the funding of caring benefactors. Young people who age out of foster care have often been in and out of foster homes and as a result have not experienced the stability and caring needed to be successful on their own. SBCS provides housing and on-site counseling for this population and many have found jobs, learned how to handle their finances and many have gone on to college. These are but some of the many excellent services that are provided. The key to the success of the agency is the committed, expert staff. The Executive Director has dedicated many years to recruiting and retaining the very best and as a result, the strong team at SBCS is a model and is often called upon to train others in this field. It is with great pride that I continue to advocate for and support the agency.