From Jay Keating: Earlier this year at a SAW Serves event, I got to meet Doug Gilbert. Doug played some songs and helped out at our event and told me about “Doors of Change” a non-profit effort in California that he and his wife, Susan are part of. I asked them to write a story about this as inspiration for our SAW Serves effort. Below is the article and some pics. I hope it inspires a few ideas in SAW. Thanks to Doug and Susan, for the service they do and for thinking of SAW.
“Doors of Change”
By Susan Pace Gilbert
In her book, The Monastery of the Heart Author Joan Chittister states “We must give ourselves to the task of bringing about God’s peaceable kingdom, wherever we are, in whatever we do.” She continues on to say we have a responsibility to see the needs of the world around us, hear the cry of the poor and act to help those who cannot help themselves.
Jeffrey Sitcov, President and Founder the charity “Doors of Change” has been working to assist homeless youth in the Greater San Diego, California area for 17 years. Our family attended the gala dinner and auction held in Carlsbad, California on Cinco de Mayo. It was a festive benefit, with a sunny outdoor patio featuring mariachi musicians during the cocktail hour (see scanned photo for story insert). Indoors, guests placed auction bids in a light-filled corridor. Auction items included 12 musical instruments signed by stars, such as: a Rolling Stone signed Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, an Elton John signed “With Love” Kurzweil KME 61 keyboard and two Steve Martin signed Deering Goodtime banjos. There were also excursions and other items in the auction selection. Jewelry, art and art cards created by homeless youth were available for purchase.
(Photo by Susan Gilbert)
Originally known as Photocharity, “Doors of Change” declares its mission to be “breaking the cycle of youth homelessness through empowerment and self-sufficiency”. Their outreach programs are geared towards homeless and disadvantaged youth aged 12-24. Their award-winning outreach program “Taking Music and Arts to the Streets” has been having a positive impact upon young lives. We witnessed this outreach firsthand on Sunday afternoon, when we walked Ocean Beach areas with Program Director Joanne Newgard, placing colorful program literature at strategic locations like small markets and public restrooms. We spoke with members of the youth homeless gathered for music and art lessons in a cheerful community room, at the Episcopal Church Center in Ocean Beach. The church has donated space for the music and arts program for five years, serving hundreds of homeless youth in the community. The music lessons can be for many different instruments, including: guitar, ukulele, keyboard, drums, violin, mandolin and harmonica. Participants can earn instruments or art supplies after attending six lessons.
There is also a related Thursday outreach program, “Taking Art to the Streets”. This program features expressive arts, yoga and computer training. These creative programs empower homeless youth through their art, music and jewelry projects. The goal is for them to become more self-sufficient, by earning money from their productive output. The overall hope is to lessen the number of homeless youth. There are over 2,000 in San Diego alone and the national figure is estimated to be around two million, according to Jeffrey Sitcov. These figures are staggering and a prosperous nation like America should be doing better to help its own people. The recent benefit raised $161,000 after expenses, thanks to patrons of the “Doors of Change” arts and music programs, as well as good donations from professional musicians.