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Varinda Missett is chief development officer for Interfaith Community Services. Courtesy photo
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Meet San Marcos Chamber member Varinda Missett, chief development officer for Interfaith Community Services

This week we are highlighting San Marcos Chamber of Commerce member Interfaith Community Services. Their organization empowers people in need to stabilize and improve their lives through comprehensive programs, in partnership with diverse faith communities and people of compassion.

It was 43 years ago that a group of faith leaders came together for their neighbors as the needs of the community grew. This group of individuals was not only from different congregations but from different faiths entirely. Despite their diverse backgrounds, they all believed in a singular idea: if they joined together, the sum of their parts could make something entirely more meaningful. So, with that inspiration in their hearts, their pact became Interfaith.

We talked with Chief Development Officer Varinda Missett to learn more about the resources that Interfaith Community Services provides.

What does your business do?

Interfaith Community Services connects unique people in need with comprehensive programs, support, and resources aimed at directly addressing the variety of challenges that cause and perpetuate poverty, food insecurity, and homelessness. Our committed case managers assist people in need with a level of compassion and dignity that is unique in our field as we seek to “help people help themselves.”

What services and/or specialty products do you provide?

Interfaith Community Services provides access to comprehensive and vital resources to meet the basic needs of community members to empower them towards independence.

We offer Case Management, Food Assistance, Shower/Laundry facilities, Vocational Development, vocational training for veterans, reintegration services, job placements, mental health assessments/counseling, bridge housing and emergency shelter, homeless outreach services, live-in detoxification, sober living support, post-hospitalization recuperative care, rental/mortgage assistance, Low-income affordable housing, and more.

What sets you apart from others in your industry?

Interfaith Community Services is the largest non-profit in North San Diego County and provides care with a level of compassion and dignity that is unmatched in our field.

What question are you asked most frequently by clients / prospective buyers?

Q: “Do you only provide services for the unhoused?”

A: No, we serve our entire community. Interfaith has programs aimed at assisting people experiencing a variety of challenges besides just homelessness.

Q: “Are you a religious organization?”

A: No, Interfaith Community Services is a 501© non-profit that was founded by a collaboration of different Faith organizations but is not operated by Faith Organizations. And while we do often work in partnership with Faith-based organizations, our services are available to all people regardless of faith, race, gender identity, or any other identity marker.

What is your favorite business success story?

Meet David, who will be a beneficiary of this year’s “Adopt-A-Family” Holiday gift-donation program

David is a diligent worker who wants to put his life together so he can be there for his family and experience the joys in life. David grew up in Lake Tahoe where he developed an appreciation for nature. He has a degree in History and was a deep-sea diver for years, which prompted him to get certificates in vocational rehabs. For a time, David owned several vocational rehab centers but after some challenging circumstances at work, he had to start selling off his businesses due to a loss of income. It was incredibly difficult for David and he turned to drug use to cope with the loss. He spiraled for a while and ended up in the hospital for 10 months, which was the beginning of him losing everything. Over the course of that time, David lost his family, his partner of 16 years, and their two adopted children. His life continued to unravel until David ended up homeless for 4 years. Eventually, David found Fraternity House. Fraternity House connected him with Interfaith, and with a lot of hard work, David overcame his addiction. David has been sober for over ten years now and has repaired his relationship with his mother and partner. He continues to develop and learn new skills and is grateful for a second chance at life.

What motivated you to join The San Marcos Chamber?

The San Marcos Chamber and its many members seem to clearly share Interfaith’s commitment to community investment.

In San Marcos, what are you looking forward to accomplishing with the Chamber?

We are excited to explore ways to better partner with our community members to create opportunities for positive change in our area. This could include joint efforts at community development, tailor-made and unique volunteer opportunities, or other methods of community engagement/support.

What’s your best piece of business advice?

Lead with respect and patience in all things. Staying true to your organization’s mission, team, and clients will always bring incredible benefits to everyone involved.

Is there additional work in San Marcos and the surrounding area that you would like to share?

Interfaith partnered with San Marcos TrueCare in Fall 2020. Interfaith and TrueCare saw an increase in need in the San Marcos community. During this time, Interfaith received COVID rental funds from the city of San Marcos. TrueCare was able to offer a workspace for Interfaith’s case manager to be closer to the community. Being closer eliminated some of the barriers our community faces such as transportation. For the past two years, Interfaith has continued to work closely with the city of San Marcos and TrueCare. Interfaith provided $408,801 in rental assistance to prevent homelessness for 80 families consisting of 149 adults and 120 children.

Interfaith received another grant at the beginning of 2022 from the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation to help our older adult population living in San Marcos. These funds are designated to prevent and house older adults residing in SM. The funds are flexible and they can be used for different purposes such as car repairs, medical bills, deposits, and rent assistance. The case manager works closely with the client to reach self-sufficiency. If there is transportation or a physical barrier, the case manager can conduct home visits. The goal of this grant is to serve 100 people to remain or obtain permanent housing. We continue to seek partnerships to support the community as much as possible.

 Interfaith Community Service Website: interfaithservices.org

Interfaith Community Service Instagram: @interfaithcs

Interfaith Community Service Facebook: Interfaith Community Services

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