CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Every Monday in our new Working For Our Community series, we shed light on the vital work happening at local non-profits. Undoubtedly, the streets of San Diego would be different without the McAlister Institute.
The CEO who started the recovery center following her addiction just turned 91. She works full-time and has a team who shares her passion.
One of those employees from their outreach program "Work for Hope" took me inside the homeless encampments they visit daily to ensure the people living there know about their services.
"We have a fentanyl crisis. We have a homeless crisis. It's just crazy out here," Joey Rubio said, who is also a counselor at the McAlister Institute.
"We've had people in our detox 15 times because you never know when that miracle will happen," the founder and CEO Jeanne McAlister said.
Lamarquis Sutton currently lives on the street. He said, "We need to be guided in the right direction sometimes."
Ana Carr has also called the streets home for three years. She said, "I feel like everyone could be one step away from where we're at."
Rubio knows this life all too well. He spent decades in prison, struggled with addiction, and slept on the street. "You'd be amazed at how many doors open for you. I love my life today," he said. He now proudly has seven years sober and shares his success story to inspire others.
"For this fiscal year, I've gotten 250 people off the streets," Rubio said.
With San Diego's growing homeless population, the McAlister Institute says the focus must be addiction. They are seeing people younger and younger needing treatment.
"I always wanted to be out of business, but no, it's gotten worse," McAlister said. There are now 26 locations since it opened in 1977. "We think outside the box and go beyond the call of duty," McAlister added.
She is humbly responsible for reuniting families, cleaning up our community, and saving countless lives. She continues to share her cell because she is serious about helping those in need. It's 619-987-6393. She says giving back is part of her 12-step work.
Around 20,000 people go through their recovery programs annually.
The county mostly funds the McAlister Institute, but donations are always appreciated. The 11th annual Walk for Sobriety is on September 30th.
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