SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - The Alpha Project in the East Village is a non-profit organization helping former homeless people by putting them to work in the kitchen.
The Alpha Project's new Alpha Pizzeria is serving up not just great food, but essential skills that can lead to full-time jobs.
For Daniel Hampton, this is the first time in years he has had a steady job. "The stability is good. It's going to help your self-esteem, your self-reliance."
Hampton, who is in his 70's, once lived on the streets but now lives in the East Village's Alpha Square - a 200 residential complex for homeless or low-income men and women.
His commute to work is simply a flight of stairs. "I can jump out the sixth floor and at the front door," he said.
The Alpha Project aims to empower people and families by helping them become self-sufficient. All proceeds made at the recently opened Alpha Pizzeria go towards organizing and hiring residents.
Bob McElroy, Alpha Project President and CEO, said "stereotypes and stigmas are a bunch of diddly squat. I see people as individuals."
Alpha Project residents go through six weeks of curriculum and two-week internship. They also get to keep their $11.50 per-hour paycheck.
Chef and restaurant consultant Alex Carballo, who oversees the pizza shop, said Hampton was one of the residents who got ahead.
"I may be able to teach him a skill, but there is a lot of life he can teach me," said Carballo.
Alpha Pizzeria serves up more than slices of pizza, they serve slices of self-worth, pride, slices of community pie.
"If you improve yourself, you improve your job and make it possible for others to do the same," said Hampton.
The Alpha projects serves 4,000 people a day with programs from San Diego up to the Bay Area.
To help out, the president said to come and buy some pizza or donate online.