There are angels among us. Case in point: Darin Dew, director of Street Angels, a local nonprofit that delivers backpacks filled with food, toiletries, socks and other basic necessities to San Diego teenagers living on the street.
"Somebody does care, even if it doesn't feel like it," says Dew.
Launched in 2005 by Pastor Richard McCullen of Mission Gathering Church in North Park, the Street Angels spread hope, grace and love to kids in need. Today, under Dew's supervision, an altruistic team of six-to-eight volunteers hits the streets of Ocean Beach and Downtown, distributing goods from wagons.
Though the group was born from a Christian church, Dew insists Street Angels has no religious agenda.
"It wouldn't be charity to us if we were trying to get them to come to our church," he says. "We're out there to give."
In keeping with the saying, "No good deed goes unpunished," the Street Angels have faced adversity from those who regard handouts as fostering homelessness versus a change of lifestyle. But Dew disagrees with the detractors.
"(Problems) existed before we got here," he says. "Ignoring them doesn't make them go away."
In 2011, approximately 9,000 people were homeless in San Diego. Of these, 75% were male, 25% were female,
65% were Caucasian, 18% were Hispanic, 15% were African American and 18% were military veterans.
Source: Regional Task Force on the Homeless (rtfhsd.org)
By hitting the streets to conduct a physical count of the city's homeless population, San Diego's Regional Task Force on the Homeless is able provide crucial data to a multitude of government and social service agencies, helping ensure that proper grants and funding can be provided to those in need.
National Homeless Stats:
In 2011, approximately 636,000 Americans were homeless.
Of these, 42% were single males, 14% were single females,
40% were families with children, 5% were unaccompanied minors, 49% were African American, 35% were Caucasian,
13% were Hispanic and 11% were military veterans.
Sources: National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Center on Law & Policy