While the growing San Diego economy has created dozens of new millionaires and raised the net worth of many, not everyone is sharing in the largess.
Poverty, malnutrition and inadequate education remain facts of life for many residents, which is why organizations like Neighborhood House Association exist.
“Everybody is not doing so well,” said Howard Carey, the president and CEO for the area’s largest multipurpose social service agency. “There are still a lot of people out there hurting.”
And just as the county’s population has grown, so too have the numbers of people served by Neighborhood House.
Last year, the number was about 300,000 people, including some 6,500 children from 1 to 5 years old enrolled in the organization’s largest contract program, Head Start.
In terms of dollars and employees, the child education and development program takes up about 70 percent of the association’s $54 million budget, Carey said.
Among some of the other programs under the Neighborhood House umbrella are the San Diego Food Bank, and programs aimed at senior citizens, youth, and welfare-to-work training programs.
To operate these programs, the agency employs about 1,000 people in all sorts of jobs including teachers, teacher aides, social workers, family resource workers, psychologists, mental health workers, and a variety of support positions. Last year’s payroll was more than $27 million.
The business of helping people and its ultimate successes is harder to measure than a for-profit business, but there are real parallels, Carey said.
“We have the same sense of mission, and sense of accomplishing goals that Sempra Energy or any other for-profit company has. It’s just that our goals aren’t as easily measured,” he said. “It’s not as easy to measure outcomes when human lives are concerned.”
Carey said although the great bulk of the association’s funding is derived from public dollars, the agency continues to seek private contributions to fill funding gaps to key programs.
For instance, public funds make up less than half the budget for its senior citizen programs, he said.
To help raise some of these private donations, Neighborhood House holds an annual gala dinner. This year’s gala, the 85th such event, is scheduled for Oct. 29 at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort.
Carey says after 30 years at Neighborhood House, including 28 as its president, he still has a passion for his job.
“This is my profession, my calling, and I’m very dedicated to what I do,” he said.
‘We have the same sense of mission, and sense of accomplishing goals that Sempra Energy or any other for-profit company has. It’s just that our goals aren’t as easily measured.’