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Dorothy's Place/Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Health, Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Human Services, Mental Health, Mental Health & Crisis Intervention, Public Health

Mission: With love, respect and compassion, Dorothy's Place and Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra provide essential services and transitional support to people experiencing the injustice of homelessness and extreme poverty.

Results: 1,500 people served and 86 people from encampments to housing in the last 16 months.

Target demographics: people suffering through chronic homelessness find health and a sustainable home

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1,500 people suffering through chronic homelessness get their basic needs met and transition into permanent housing!

Geographic areas served: the Chinatown area of Salinas, known for drug sales and violence,

Programs: Dorothy's Drop-In Center, where 900 people annually get their essential needs met (meals, hygiene, safety, gov't ID cards) and about 60 people annually work with a trauma-informed case manager to achieve permanent housing. House of Peace Transitional Residence provides case management as well, in a safe, peer-supportive home environment for as long as it takes to address medical and mental health needs and learn life skills to become as self-sufficient as possible. Between our Dorothy's Drop-In Center and House of Peace, we assisted 70 people into housing in 2016. The Chinatown Health Services Center, built in 2016, address the unmet health needs of people living in chronic homelessness. It's cadre of medical and mental health services providers is growing, and includes Clinica de Salud de Valle de Salinas, Access Support Network (HIV & Hep C services), Community Human Services (mental health services), and Monterey County Whole Person Care (coordinated medical and mental health care for homeless Medi-Cal users). Dorothy's Kitchen still provides about 400 hot, well-prepared meals through a no charge, no obligation (other than safee behavior) and no discrimination program that serves around 1,500 people annually. We're very blessed with lots of fresh produce and a variety of fish and meats that make our meals appealing and very healthy, for a very health-vulnerable population. Women Alive! Emergency Shelter has, since December of 2005, provided overnight safety for around 200 women annually that would be forced to live on the streets or trade sex for a bed at night. New in 2016: daytime case management for every shelter client! About 10 women have graduated from Women Alive! into House of Peace and achieved their permanent housing! Health and Housing for the Homeless is our path and our destination!

Community Stories

9 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5


With love, respect and compassion, the Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra, Dorothy’s Place, provide essential services and transitional support to people experiencing the injustice of homelessness and extreme poverty.
We do this through our four programs: Dorothy’s Kitchen, the Drop-In Center, Streets to Homes, and House of Peace Transitional Residence. It’s our highest priority to serve the people of our community who are struggling to get on their feet because of issues they may not have been able to control. When those experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty are taken care of, our community and society becomes a better place and more value is added to the economy. We believe our efforts are bringing long-term change.

On behalf of Dorothy's Place and the people we serve, we want to thank One Warm Coat for including us in this year's Burlington Coat Drive. You did, indeed, "Deliver Good" to the families in need in Salinas, California.

Dorothy's Place provides a seasonal pantry for families who work in the local agriculture industry. During the winter the local growers shut down for four to five months and the workers are unemployed unless they migrate to Southern California or Arizona. Many of the workers have young families and they come to our pantry each week, stand in line outside, rain or shine, patiently waiting to receive a box of food. We provide basics such as rice, beans, and fresh produce as available. The pantry serves up to 250 households each week.

In January we gave gifts to the families during the pantry. One Warm Coat and the Burlington Coat Drive allowed us to provide 75 coats to children who came to the pantry with their families. They were surprised, grateful, and very happy!

The 65 adult coats we received were given to our neighbors, many of whom live in tents and in vehicles in the encampment surrounding our Drop-In Center. Though our climate is mild, our area has many cold nights in the 30s and 40s during the winter. The coats were much appreciated by our guests.
We are sending a photo of our grateful recipients (from behind to protect the children) and photos of the gracious and enthusiastic staff at the Burlington store in Gilroy, California who helped with the Coat Drive.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Hi - I'm Jill. I was our Development Director for 8 years, and now I'm the Executive Director.

We've made a lot of progress in the last couple of years and embraced trauma-informed care. We've doubled in size and obligation to our guests and clients. We've fallen, skinned our knees, and stood back up over and over again, because we know the reason we're here will always be to helping people living in homelessness to be happy and healthy. We know now that housing IS healthcare. Everyone deserves a safe home, not a just a tent. Join us!

1 Michael78

Client Served

Rating: 2

In many instances, Dorothy's Place is a boon to the community. I myself was fed and clothed by this organization for difficult years. As I learn more and more about the inner workings, however, I find that this organization has a multitude of self-inflcted problems. The Development director, Jill Allen is top notch, along with the administrative assistant Jessica Mayer. Both work very hard to raise funding and to straighten out problems. I have not been impressed with the rest of the management team, however. The management team tends to bury or ignore problems rather than facing them head-on. The willingness to take responsibility for important programs is lacking. Cronyism and nepotisim definite problems. Persons are protected in their jobs when they should be dismissed for poor performance. The Women Alive! shelter program is a prime example. Having been a client of other shelters, I am aware that there are always problems with substance abuse, theft, and violence. The Women Alive! program could take many pointers from these programs and listen to those they serve, but they choose not to do so. These women cannot get a decent nights sleep, many do not bathe when there are facilities available, theft is rampant, control of the area is sadly lacking with women wandering in and out all night, and drug use is allowed right there in the facility. As with this program and others, constructive criticism falls on deaf ears. What is needed is a much more professional approach in recruiting staff members and much greater accountability. Any sort of such accountability is shunned by the majority of the management team. Many problems are not due to lack of funds -- only lack of imagination.


Rating: 5

My wife and I started volunteering by making sandwiches for the homeless who visited Franciscan Workers. Over the past 25 years we have continued our involvement as volunteers and as members of the board of directors. Our clients are the homeless who have nothing ,and also the economically challenged who run out of money during the month.
We cook about 40 turkeys a year for their thanksgiving meal. We have served dinner to our guests and have dined with them. What is interesting is their comraderie toward each other. Many have recovered from addictions and some are mentally unbalanced. I remember eathing with a blind guest who had at one time been able to see. The other guests served him, arranged the plate and glass so he would not spill and put the fork in his hand and moved it to the plate. All our very polite at meal time and use good manners.

I once lent $500.00 to one of our guests as he needed to purchase a car to find work. I had no expectation of repayment. However, two years later my receptionist called and told me a man and a dog were in my office to see me. It was the man I lent the money and he carefully counted out $500.00 that he owed.

There was a man who was one of our guests and he expressed a desire to go to his daughters graduation from college in a distant town. He had not been a good father what with his addictions but was now sober and wanted this very much. We purchased a suit and shoes along with a bus ticket and he made it. He later showed us pictures of himself with his daughter and family members at the graduation.

We try and give our guests a sense of self worth and a feeling of dignity. So many have been beaten down. We have now opened a woman's shelter so that homeless women will be safe and not victimized on the street. They love the idea of a meal and a chance to sleep safely. We run tutor programs in the labor camps and now the parents become involved in helping their children. I sometimes wonder ...what if there were no Franciscan Workers. We are not affiliated with the catholic church and are supported by many denominations including the Jewish Temple and The Buddhists

Review from Guidestar


Rating: 5

Although I always gave cash, food, clothes and misc donations to this organization, I had never actually volunteered my time. Then in one of their newsletters I saw they were looking for people to "adopt a room" as they were converting the upstairs of Dorothy's Place to a shelter for those that were in a Gold Star Program. My coworker Andrea and myself quickly contacted Jill and she set us up. (Jill is awesome!! Lots of patience in educatng us about the homeless!)

We had so much fun painting, furnishing and decorating the bedrooms. We got to work hand in hand with the people that would soon be occupying these bedrooms. They were such a pleasure to work with. They helped with painting, clean up, moving furniture.... anything that was needed. And that wasn't only for their rooms, but for any room or anybody in the shelter that needed their help.

They were so appreciative of our time and donations. Thanking us over and over and over. Their excitment was such a joy to see. They were like little kids at Christmas! We felt like proud Momma's!

If you have never volunteered at Dorothy's, make a commitment to go at least once. I finally did and now I know I must go back to help. They need us, not just things.

To serve God is to serve others.
Love & Light!!

Review from Guidestar

1 Ravi I.


Rating: 5

I visited as part of a student group and have come back twice since then due to the amazing educational experience provided. It nourishes my soul to be there and reminds me of what is truly important in life.

Review from Guidestar



Rating: 5

My first experience with Dorothy's Place was through an alternative spring break trip sponsored by USC's volunteer center, and within that week I absolutely fell in love with the organization's mission, values, and its people. I found a second home in Salinas. Naturally, I returned to intern with the Franciscan Workers that following summer and after graduating from college I completed a short stint working with Jill Allen in the administration office. I'm thankful for the opportunities the Franciscan Workers have given me, and am looking forward to visiting them in the future.

Review from Guidestar

1 Shawnell T.

Board Member

Rating: 5

My husband and I were just asked to be on the Board for the Franciscans Workers of Junipero Serra just within the last few months. As Board Members we do not have alot of experience yet, but as community members who have always known about the organization that serves our community, the community that we love, we have alot of experience. My first time at Dorthys was when I worked with Severly Handicapped adults many years ago and as one of our job training sites, we came to Dorothy's Kitchen to do things like clean tables, set tables and prepare food. The young adults I worked with loved coming and so did I. I began to see how important Dorthys was to our community. I began to learn about the people who needed this amazing service. People just like me, people who deserved a chance to be treated with respect and I saw that at Dorothy's they got it. It is an amazing place where people have opportunities to rebuild their lives by building their self esteem and learning job skills and other important things. I also feel that it gives people in our community a chance to serve and give and teach their kids the importance of loving all people.


General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I worked for 3 years in the department of social services. It was my pleasure to refer customers to Dorothy's Kitchen as it had a long reputation for service and giving.

Review from Guidestar